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Photo 2021 takes over Melbourne

UPDATE FEBRUARY 19: Melbourne’s inaugural Photo 2021 launched on Thursday, with an event livestreamed from an empty Federation Square, following a sudden five-day Victorian lockdown that eased on Wednesday night. Photo 2021 has flagged some exhibitions are postponed, but only a few events were cancelled due to interstate border travel restrictions.

It’s been tricky timing for Photo 2021, Melbourne’s new international photo festival. It’s fortunate the festival didn’t open at the start of the latest lockdown and have stay-at-home orders cut into the two-and-a-half week schedule. The lockdown has interfered with the installation of several exhibitions, and travel restrictions resulted in some event cancellations.

Here’s Photo 2021’s latest statement from February 17:

The Photo 2021 team will continue to monitor Government advice and work with our program partners to provide updates on any changes to exhibition opening dates and events through our website and social media in the coming days. Some exhibitions may open later than planned due to restrictions with installing artworks, which we will provide further information on in due course.

In all instances we will be following Government advice in regard to restrictions, which may evolve as we progress through the Festival.

We are looking forward to sharing our inaugural festival and are extremely confident that we will be able to deliver a world-class event which continues to support our artists, partners, venues, stakeholders and audiences that have been through so much over this past year.

Please find below a list of current program changes. It is advised that you visit the venue website to find the latest opening hours and booking information.

The statement then goes on to list program changes. As of Thursday, there weren’t many but new ones have been updated. Here’s some of the adjustments:

Here is the current list of postponed exhibitions. It’s likely the list will be updated with more events.

Event cancellations include an artist talk with James Tylor, Shea Kirk, Martin Smith, and the opening of Legenda at Signal.

Photo 2021 had a ‘virtual’ launch event on February 18 at Federation Square in Melbourne. It was live streamed, but barely promoted, and as such only attracted a few viewers.

An ordeal

Inside Imaging has tried to help promote Photo 2021 and before that the postponed Photo 2020. We have sent in literally dozens of questions which have all been totally ignored, as was our request to interview the director, Elias Redstone. Ignored – not declined.

While we started out with every intention of giving Photo 2021 the best possible run, every time our requests for collaboration were ignored we grew a little more alienated.

To be frank it has been a bruising, insulting experience, the like of which has been unique in our professional experience. If this is what media relations has come to in 2021, it is going to make informed journalism near impossible. There is meagre comfort in knowing that we are apparently not the only individuals in the photographic community to be given the ‘talk to the hand’ treatment by Elias and Photo 2021’s PR firm, Zilla & Brook. We just don’t quite understand why they have decided not to, how do you say, ‘Reach Out’ to true enthusiasts for photography via this and other dedicated websites.

Nonetheless we wish Photo 2021 all success. How could we not? There looks to be some great photography on show. The photographers work deserves viewers, and the photographers featured aren’t responsible for what appears – from the receiving end – to be at best meagre levels of professionalism.

The Photo 2021 program consists of around 80 exhibitions at indoor and outdoor venues across Melbourne and regional cities.

Well-credentialled photographers showing works at Photo 2021 include the likes of Trent Parke, Hoda Afshar, George Georgiou, Cherine Fahd, Destiny Deacon, James Tylor, Zanele Muholi, Felicity Hammond, Jacky Redgate, Hayley Millar-Baker, Martin Smith, Christopher Day, Michael Cook, Atong Atem, Kate Golding, Emma Phillips, David Noonan, Justine Varga, Patrick Pound, Maree Clarke, Shea Kirk, Daniel Shea, and many others.


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