This is the second time we’ve been to the Biennale. It’s a really great event held annually in Ballarat for a four week period; this year from 19 August to 17 September. We got to see it on the last week-end. There’s a great atmosphere in the city with people wandering around the different venues checking out the photos. They are housed in all sorts of different places; the Town Hall, the Mining Exchange, the Art Gallery as well as other private galleries and in cafes and restaurants. According to the Mayor, over 70 venues participate; including the Trades Hall, which gives me an excuse to post this picture. As you can see we had a lovely day for our artistic wandering.

This year there was an Outdoor Public Program with lots of photos pasted up on outside walls. Shades of the French artist JR! It was great seeing them along the walkways between buildings and in the laneways. Here’s a tiny sample of what was on offer.
The image immediately above and the two below are by the female Iranian photographer Gohar Dashti from a series: Stateless, 2014-15. Focussing on people displaced by war, massacres, oppression, disease and death ….where would they be welcomed with open arms? … Sky becomes the ceiling and mountains the walls of their new home; because Nature is the only promising place that shelters these people, an eternal and everlasting refuge. Quite haunting images. And appropriate they are ephemeral; to be removed at the conclusion of the Biennale.

I really liked these photographs by Karoline Hjorth and Riitta Ikonen of Norway and Finland who are searching for modern human’s affinity to nature. They describe their photos as part installation and part photography. The series had a very strange name: Eyes As Big As Plates. They are quite weird, and the outside location suited them.

Inside the Mining Exchange was devoted to photographs depicting the experience of Australia’s Indigenous population. I didn’t photograph them very well, but there were some great photos there. Here are a couple from a series of drawings on photographic prints between non-Indigenous Australian artist Laura Will and Indigenous Australian photographer James Tylor. These are from The Forgotten Wars 1-6, 2-17. The photographs of Australian rural landscapes are overlaid with drawings influenced by colonial war, survey, town and mining maps from British Parliamentary papers and Commissioners reports on the colonisation of Australia.

And there were some powerful portraits by Ricky Maynard of Wik elders including this one of Gladys from a Returning to Places that Name Us series, 2000.

We saw pictures of Antarctica by Kagetsu Buic at Catfish Thai restaurant, photographs of ice at On Ice by Alastair Firkin and Helen Myall at Le Petit Patissier, portraits at the Town Hall and haunting images of people in nature in a gallery in Lydiard Street that I can’t remember the name of – either the exhibition or the photographer. There was another exhibition in the gallery behind the Art Gallery made up of polaroid photos of a person’s feet in places all around the world, that when told about I thought would be silly, but it was quite affecting.

We also say the exhibition of photographs by David La Chapelle which were being exhibited in Australia for the first time, at the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery. I had never heard of him but I liked his work a lot, and that exhibition will be the subject of a separate post.


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