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Ballarat International Foto Biennale

  • Art, Photography
  • Recommended
  1. A shot taken of The Beatles while creating the Abbey Road album cover. John and George are looking at things off camera, while Ringo and Paul post to the camera
    Photograph: Linda McCartney
  2. Three instant noodle cakes with their flavouring on top of them. They are placed on top of a newspaper
    Photograph: Chow and LinChow and Lin, 'The Poverty Line - Ethiopia'

Time Out Says

Ballarat's biennial celebration of photography returns to deck out the entire town in art and exhibitions

One of Victoria's biggest goldfields towns becomes a hub of art this spring as the Ballarat International Foto Biennale returns. 

We can't stress how big of a deal this is: the biennale features 260 artists who will take over 100 venues during town-wide exhibition. There will also be 25 Australian exclusive exhibitions running as part of the biennale, as well as a world premiere.

The biennale will reopen to Melburnians from October 30, having been open to most regional areas since September 15. The good news is that the festival has been extended until January (it was originally due to end in October) so there should hopefully be plenty of chances for everyone to visit.

The event has a habit of turning Ballarat itself into a canvas and 2021 is no different. In addition to exhibitions at venues, BIFB also features public art, projections across the city, talk, foto walks and food and drink experiences that run alongside the program. 

And what a program it is. Highlights for this year include:

Linda McCartney: Retrospective
Curated by Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney, Linda McCartney: Retrospective features more than 200 photographs and gives a glimpse into the 1960s music industry alongside intimate photographs of the McCartney family and the photographer's time in Australia.

Steven Arnold: Notes from a Queer Mystic
Artist, queer revolutionary and Salvador Dali protégée Steven Arnold took photographs that merged camp, glamour and celebrity culture. Striking, magical and yet somewhat delightfully foreboding, Arnold's images remain as evocative today as they did in his prime.

Chow and Lin: The Poverty Line
Everybody eats, but not everybody eats equally. Artists Stefen Chow and Huiyi Lin take food and use it to explore the daily choices made by people living on the poverty line in this eye-catching exhibition. The photographers visited 36 countries across six continents to create the series, which asks "What does poverty mean in different countries?"

Biennale After Dark: Projections
Ballarat Town Hall will be lit with projections every Friday, Saturday and Sunday during BIFB, with artists such as Jackson Gallagher, Kris Graves and Heidi Victoria taking part.

Foto Walks: Cemetery Foto Walk
Across four Saturdays, local photographer Angela Hayward will teach you the art of photography at Ballarat General Cemetery. All ages and skill levels are invited to take part in the dusk event.

Number One| Gudinski
In honour of the late pioneer of Australian music, Michael Gudinski, the biennale presents an exhibition of music photography featuring artists underneath Gudinski's companies, Mushroom Group and Frontier Touring.

Feminism in Indonesia gets put in the spotlight in this exhibition curated by Kat Campbell and Sarina Meuleman. Meaning "behind" in Indonesian, Dibalik looks at the voices and stories of Indonesian women that cannot always be expressed directly.

Raining Embers
Raining Embers takes a look at the ongoing and worsening climate crisis, using the 2020 Black Summer bushfires that raged across Australia as a focal point.

This year you can book either a single day or three-day pass, with tickets on sale now. Head to the website for the full line-up of events and exhibitions.

Nicola Dowse
Written by
Nicola Dowse


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