• Image: Clifford Prince King, Untitled, (m _ q), 2017. Courtesy the artist, Gordon Robichaux, NY and STARS, LA
    Image: Clifford Prince King, Untitled, (m _ q), 2017. Courtesy the artist, Gordon Robichaux, NY and STARS, LA

Queer PHOTO will officially open on Saturday 27 January. Presented by Midsumma and PHOTO 2024, in partnership with Creative Victoria’s Go West program, the first-of-its-kind festival will be proudly showcasing large-scale outdoor artworks, gallery exhibitions and a public program by local and international artists across Melbourne’s West.

To celebrate emerging queer voices from Australia and internationally, Queer PHOTO opens with a fabulous free Opening Night Launch at The Substation in Newport on Saturday 27 January. On this special night, three exhibitions will open – Alteration by FAFSWAG, TBWWWTB (To Be What We Want To Be) by Vic Bakin and So’otaga (Connection) by Leilani Fuimaono. Kick up your heels and celebrate the opening of Queer PHOTO with food, drinks, live music, performances, photo-booths and art.

Image: Salote Tawale, YOU, ME, ME, YOU (still), 2022. Courtesy of the artist.
Image: Salote Tawale, YOU, ME, ME, YOU (still), 2022. Courtesy of the artist.

In addition to the Opening Night Launch, three more launches will happen between January and March. The launch of Surfacing at artist run space Trocadero Projects in Footscray will happen on Wednesday 31 January. This group exhibition will be featured by Estelle Yoon, Luce Nguyễn Hunt, Rômy Pacquing McCoy and Dorcas Tang 邓佳 颖, with a strong focus on Asian diaspora voices.

Held on Saturday 3 February, Footscray Community Arts will launch six Queer PHOTO exhibitions showcasing photographic works such as Black & Blur by Lilah Benetti, The Zizi Show by Jake Elwes, Like A River by Daniel Jack Lyons, Orange Grove by Clifford Prince King, Marungka Tjalatjunu/Dipped in Black by Matthew Thorne and Derik Lynch, and Exquisite Corpse by Salote Tawale.

On Friday 1 March the Wyndham Art Gallery in Werribee will launch four Queer PHOTO exhibitions, including The New Pre-Raphaelites by Sunil Gupta, Queer Immigrants by Asafe Ghalib, Affirm by Peter Waples-Crowe and To See or Not to See by Karla Dickens.

The jam-packed full Queer PHOTO 2024 program is available at: https://www.midsumma.org.au/info/queer-photo/

Image: Asafe Ghalib, from the series Queer Immigrants
Image: Asafe Ghalib, from the series Queer Immigrants
Queer PHOTO exhibitions include:

Black & Blur (World premiere) by Lilah Benetti (Australia) at Footscray Community Arts is a new commission, featuring portraits of migrant and Indigenous Black people. Benetti's work recognises that Blackness is a mosaic of cultural, ethnic, and global Indigenous backgrounds, shaped and coloured by the unique contexts from which we emerge.

The Zizi Show (Australian premiere) by Jake Elwes (United Kingdom) at Footscray Community Arts explores the intersection of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and drag performance. Drag challenges gender and explores otherness, while AI is often mystified as a concept and tool and is complicit in reproducing social bias. The project explores what AI can teach us about drag, and what drag can teach us about AI.

Like A River (Australian premiere) by Daniel Jack Lyons (United States) at Footscray Community Arts explores how deep Indigenous traditions and modern identity politics meet in a celebratory, safe space. A series of portrait photographs that visualise and empower the trans and queer communities living in the Amazon. Made in collaboration with Casa do Rio, a community-based organisation supporting the cultural lives of teenagers and young people living in the Amazon Rainforest.

Clifford Prince King (United States) is an African American photographer who documents intimate relationships in everyday settings, celebrating queer black joy. Orange Grove (Australian premiere) at Footscray Community Arts presents the soft power of the everyday in the works presenting a hope for a future fulfilled with compassion and care. Prince King’s documentary, Kiss of Life, will also be screening. The film is about two black men living with HIV and reflect throughout on their experiences living with the virus.

Marungka Tjalatjunu/Dipped in Black (World premiere) at Footscray Community Arts is a collaborative film and photographic project made by filmmaker Matthew Thorne (Australia) and Yankunytjatjara artist/dancer, Derik Lynch (Australia). Lynch escapes the oppressive white city life of Adelaide, taking a road trip back to Country (Aptula), his remote Anangu community where he seeks spiritual healing and performs on sacred Inma ground.

Exquisite Corpse (World premiere) by artist Salote Tawale (Australia/Fiji) at Footscray Community Arts features a series of outdoor humanesque sculptures climbing out of the Maribyrnong River. Reflecting on her experiences as a person from two different colonies, the exhibition takes its name from the collaborative drawing game popularised by surrealist artists, who in turn, appropriated Oceanic objects and ideas.

In TBWWWTB (To Be What We Want To Be) (World premiere) at The Substation, artist Vic Bakin (Ukraine) uses photography to celebrate the queer community around him. After years and years of soviet forbiddance and suppression, and against the current conflict they fight against, the Ukrainian queer scene has sprouted from the underground, persevering in the face of true adversity. Bakin celebrates the unique voice of this community, who he sees as strong and beautiful, a new generation changing his country for the better.

Alteration (Australian premiere) at The Substation is the culmination of ten years of archival practice, and two years of co-design, co-curation, research and production created by FAFSWAG arts collective, an Aotearoa based Queer Polynesian arts collective. Founded in 2013, FAFSWAG is a Queer Indigenous arts collective committed to social change through arts and innovation.

Leilani Fuimaono (Samoa/Australia) is an emerging multidisciplinary artist based in Naarm working in photography, film and sculpture. So’otaga (Connection) (World premiere) at The Outside Gallery is made in collaboration with Pasifika community based in the West. Fuimaono’s work asks, “What does it mean to be both Indigenous and a settler? How are we processing the grief of the loss of much of ancestral homes? How do we preserve our cultures and memories of home and country?”

Queer Wiradjuri woman Karla Dickens (Australia) brings a black humour to her interrogation of subjects such as race, gender and injustice, revealing her often raw pain along the way. To See or Not to See, at Werribee Park Mansion, is a series of studio self-portraits wearing hoods with varying designs act as a reminder of the masking and oppression of recent Aboriginal experience.

Asafe Ghalib’s (Brazil) Queer Immigrants (Australian premiere) at Werribee Park Mansion is an act of both confrontation and pride. Coming from a religious family and background, Ghalib’s work embraces rebellion to reclaim their identity and history. Ghalib’s focus is to photograph LGBTQIA+ individuals, in a glamorous celebration allowing both photographer and subjects personality to emerge in full bloom.

The New Pre-Raphaelites (Australian premiere) by Sunil Gupta (India/Canada) at the Wyndham Art Gallery is a series of 10 works that portrays individuals and families affected by Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalised homosexuality. This law, instituted by the British in 1861 and not overturned until 2018, led to the arbitrary arrest and exploitation of LGBTQ+ Indians.

Affirm (World premiere) by Peter Waples-Crowe (Australia) at Werribee Train Station is largely based on personal experiences as influenced by his adoption and reconnection with his Ngarigo heritage and over 25 years’ experience as a community health worker within Aboriginal and LGBTQIA2+ health.

SURFACING (World premiere) is a group exhibition at artist run space Trocadero Projects, featuring Estelle Yoon,  Luce Nguyễn Hunt, Rômy Pacquing McCoy and Dorcas Tang 邓佳颖, with a strong focus on Asian diaspora voices.

Image: Daniel Jack Lyons, from the series Like A River, 2019. Courtesy of the artist.
Image: Daniel Jack Lyons, from the series Like A River, 2019. Courtesy of the artist.

Events Program:

Queer PHOTO features over 30 events, from artist talks, film screenings, workshops and tours to be held across every weekend between 27 January and 24 March at multiple venues within the west, featuring a diverse range of queer photographers to bring the community together, learn new skills and experience queer art. On Sunday 4 February An Artsy Queer Bus Ride hosted by 2Joocee will take passengers to every venue at Queer PHOTO.