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Everything we know about Photo 2020

Upon discovering the existence of Photo 2020, Melbourne’s new biennial photographic festival scheduled for next year, we were left with more questions than answers.

Elias Redstone. Source: Phaidon.

So Inside Imaging touched base with the Photo 2020 director, Elias Redstone, to glean details beyond what was already highlighted in the (non-circulated) press release.

There was hope for insight into how this machine was assembled; the sharing of material worthy of shaping into new insights. But the somewhat verbose, somewhat opaque response lacked the kind of detail to make this possible. (So sorry about the click bait-ish headline!)

With Photo2020 just over a year away and the website only going live in February, perhaps it’s too early to give much away. Or perhaps it’s being run on a ‘need-to-know’ basis. Who knows!?

Anyway, for what it’s worth, here’s the Q&A:

How long has this festival been in the works? When did it go from an idea to actually being formed?
The idea for an international festival of photography in Melbourne was inspired by the incredible photographic and visual arts community here, and the cultural resources, collections, academic expertise, and artistic and curatorial talent that come together in this city. The scope and direction of Photo 2020 was developed in dialogue with cultural institutions, curators, photographers, artists and academics over the past couple of years. It gradually took shape and we just went public with our website and social media a few weeks ago.

Why do you speculate Melbourne hasn’t produced a photography festival of this scale, despite the thriving arts community? Has it been a complex process to get all the venues and institutions under one umbrella for the event?
Every cultural institution I approached has been both incredibly supportive of the idea for the festival and keen to participate. It is great to see the whole sector come together with such enthusiasm for Photo 2020. I cannot speak to why this has not happened before.

Can you provide a rough idea of the strategy to build and develop the festival from now until launch?
Photo 2020’s program partners are each curating exhibitions in response to the central theme that will explore the relationship between photography and truth. We are also ensuring there are a range of opportunities for photographers and artists to participate directly in the festival, to present their work to the public in new ways, and expand their practice. Applications for the Photography Fellowship, in partnership with State Library Victoria, are currently open to support innovative research in response to the Library’s photography collection. We will also be announcing details of an open call for Australian and international photographers in April to present work in the festival, along with the Photo 2020 x Perimeter International Photobook Prize and the National Photography Prize later this year.

These are just some of the programs in development. There is a lot being planned, and we look forward to sharing more information about the festival in due course.

Any idea of the budget, or where various pools of funding will come from?
We are not currently in a position to discuss the budget.

We noticed Ballarat Art Gallery is not included, nor is the BIFB’s new National Centre of Photography. Is there a reason for this exclusion?
We are keen to make sure that our festival complements the biennial (sic) in Ballarat. We will be taking place on alternate years, and the biennial in Ballarat will be a time for these institutions to shine.


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