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BIFB unveils full 2023 program!

The 10th Ballarat International Foto Biennale (BIFB) has announced the full program, with 100 exhibitions, a five-day William Yang Masterclass, Oculi portfolio reviews, and much more on offer.

Some of the photographers featuring in the tenth Ballarat International Foto Biennale.

The festival is running for two months, from August 26 – October 22, and boasts a jam-packed program primed to bring a major audience to the regional Victorian city.

Under the stewardship of the new CEO Vanessa Gerrans, BIFB’s program is curated to the theme ‘the real thing’, which ‘challenges us to ask what is real in a world that is bombarded with images’.

‘Images have become the vernacular of modern life as we are bombarded with snaps, portraits, social document, NFTs, (non-fungible tokens), images generated by Artificial Intelligence and more. It has become our task to sift through this cacophony and determine what has real meaning and what is just visual hyperbole.

Vanessa told Inside Imaging earlier this year that for her debut festival, the 10th edition, she will to pay homage to the festival’s history, while bringing it into a new era.

The BIFB CEO appointed new team members, notably with strong connections to photography, to help execute her vision for BIFB. This includes BIFB event producer, Meg Hewitt, and creative producer, Peter Volich.

Meg, for instance, is an accomplished photographer, an Oculi member and the agent for acclaimed Sydney photographer, William Yang. Both are hosting major events at BIFB.

The BIFB exhibitions are broken into two categories, the Core Program and Open Program.

The 17 Core Program exhibitions are curated by BIFB, and will show in Ballarat’s various public spaces and heritage-listed venues, as well as outdoor areas. BIFB has already announced its ‘headline act’, People Power – Platon, a world-premiere retrospective by the leading celebrity photographer.

The Open Program, formerly known as the Fringe Program, is made up of 82 exhibitions scattered across Ballarat venues. This integral component of the festival provides emerging and established photographers a platform to showcase work. There is always some cracking photography waiting to be discovered in the Open Program. Click here to check it out.

Here is a selection of Core Program exhibitions:

Instant Warhol

Photo: Andy Warhol.

Instant Warhol takes us straight to Andy Warhol’s point of view, famous, fleeting, commercialised, constructed, in a series of his Polaroid photographs of people in the spotlight in the ‘70s and ‘80s. This amazing collection from the Brant Foundation in New York shows us Warhol’s understanding of the superficial nature of celebrity in American society, his obsession with the people behind the personas, and the fleeting nature of fame.
Art Gallery of Ballarat

The Stephanie Collection

Photo: Yvonne Todd.

Yvonne Todd’s photographs can make you look twice. There is something not quite right – a discomfort, an awkward experience. This New Zealand based photographer is known for her unique and unconventional approach to portraiture. Her work challenges photographic clichés by manipulating traditional photographic styles to create unexpected and provocative relationships. Her unsettling images feature objects or characters in striking costumes and unnatural poses. Their unfathomable glossy complexions can appear doll-like or with a hint of ghoulishness: wigs, fake teeth, and prosthetics are highly styled and manipulated.
Art Gallery of Ballarat

The Real Thing

Photo: Michael Rayner.

Jeff Moorfoot OAM, founding father of the Ballarat International Foto Biennale (2005-2015), returns to curate The Real Thing – a milestone exhibition for the Biennale’s 10th edition. Fifteen regional Victorian photographers respond to the festival theme The Real Thing and Russell Morris’s 1969 song of the same name, which presented an incongruity to the complex production values and song length of more than double the length of most singles of the day. Featuring highly credentialed artists working in a range of genres including fine art, photojournalism, commercial, documentary, and alternate process, The Real Thing celebrates the expertise and thriving communities of practising photographers in regional Victoria.
41 Lydiard Street North


Photo: Jo Duck.

Jo Duck draws inspiration from cinema, music, or as Jo says, anywhere from “UFOs to Dolly Parton”. For her new series Disguises, Duck is inspired by real people who are trying, but failing to fool the world. Can I use felt pen on my face to hide my identity? If a wear a suit of bricks, can I hide in plain sight?
RACV Goldfields Resort


Photo: Aldona Kmieć .

Aldona Kmieć invites us to explore the boundaries of our own imaginations and to embrace the power of creativity in her new series, Winterbloom. These fluid and bright photographs were made in the depths of winter during COVID-19 as an act of creative rebellion. She used a freedom of colour and movement to create this series of visually captivating self-portraits.
RACV Goldfields Resort


Photo: Michael Jalaru Torres.

As a Djugun and Yawuru Man with tribal connections to the Jabirr Jabirr and Gooniyandi people, Michael Jalaru Torres draws inspiration from the unique landscapes and people of the Kimberley region. His photography poems seek to illuminate Australia’s dark history and modern day issues that shape communities, both remote and urban.
Level 1, 41 Lydiard Street North

Fucked Up Fotos

Photo: Stephen Dupont.

Stephen Dupont’s photographic mishaps celebrate chance and imperfection in Fucked Up Fotos. The series spans thirty years, five continents and more than a dozen countries, including Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea, China, and Romania. It is a catalogue of everything that can go wrong in photography, featuring double-exposures, light leaks, X-ray clouding, and corrupted computer files.
Post Office Gallery

How to Fly

Photo: Erik Johansson.

Experience the surreal landscapes of Swedish artist Erik Johansson, in this Australian exclusive exhibition across two locations, the Ballarat Mining Exchange and RACV Goldfields Resort at Creswick. How To Fly is a journey through the imaginary words he creates that seem almost real but are a composite of many images.
Johansson combines photographic elements to create images that seem real, but the logical inconsistencies make us question what we see. Influenced by his childhood memories of the Swedish countryside, Johansson’s work incorporates Nordic nature, wide open landscapes, and small red houses.
Ballarat Mining Exchange and RACV Goldfields Resort


Photo: Ian Kemp.

For Ballarat-based photographer Ian Kemp, images of the natural world are a metaphor for the transience of human life – its permanence and impermanence. The works in this exhibition capture a changing world where beauty is ephemeral and temporary. He uses the tonal and textural properties of etching and other traditional printing processes to imbue these works with an otherworldliness. He highlights the beauty of line, form, and composition within the images to convey the impending change that will come with the seasons, a metaphor for the transitions within ourselves as we progress through our lives.
Art Gallery of Ballarat

Cruising For A Bruising

Photo: Kyle Knight.

Kyle Archie Knight’s Cruising for a Bruising is a camp love letter to the Australian Suburbs. Growing up queer in outer-metropolitan Naarm (Melbourne), Knight found themselves drawn to explore the streets of their family neighbourhood. Their search for moments that capture the essence of suburbia result in a celebration of the surreal and the mundane, the humorous and the humdrum. The exhibition and Knight’s debut photobook delve into family archives, alongside memories of suburbia and growing pains he experienced over the years. As a flâneur, Knight reconnects with past memories of estrangement, finding humour in what was once cold while expressing a lighter side of suburban Australia.

Workshops and events

Speed Dating with Oculi
An exclusive opportunity to meet with Oculi Collective photographers including Conor Ashleigh, Judith Nangala Crispin, Jesse Marlow, Dean Sewell, Abigail Varney, Tamara Voininski and Andrew Quilty. Get feedback on your current project, share a photobook or pitch an idea with 10-minutes of advice from each professional.
The George Hotel

Three-Day Masterclass: Street Photography and Serendipity with Vineet Vohra
Don’t miss this exclusive opportunity to work with celebrated Indian photographer Vineet Vohra and take your street photography to the next level. This is an intensive workshop, tailor-made to suit your skill level, whether you’ve been shooting for years or you’re just stepping out to discover street photography.
In this masterclass, participants are encouraged to develop a series of photographs taken during their time in Ballarat, guided by Vineet and his serendipitous approach to photography. Before the masterclass finishes, students will be invited to present their work to each other in a feedback session.

Five-Day Masterclass: The Story Only I Can Tell with William Yang
William Yang leads a five-day masterclass about performative storytelling with pictures. Yang has combined photography and monologue in significant works such as Sadness, Bloodlinks, My Generation and Friends of Dorothy which have toured extensively in Australia and internationally. In this masterclass, participants will have first-hand experience of his process, using their own stories and photographs to develop a short storytelling performance. There are only four spots which are available by application in this workshop. The workshop will culminate in a public performance on Saturday 2 October at Ballaarat Mechanics’ Institute.

Workshop: On the Streets of Ballarat with Jesse Marlow
Don’t miss your chance to work with award-winning street photographer Jesse Marlow. In this workshop, you’ll walk around Ballarat guided by Marlow, as he opens your eyes to the world around you. Marlow will offer practical exercises and tips and tricks to help you see—and photograph—your surroundings in new ways.

Workshop: Product Photography for E-Commerce with Travis Trewin
Creating great product images is one of the most important steps to selling online. This hands-on workshop will assist small e-commerce business owners in selecting the right equipment and the best techniques for shooting their products. Catering for all equipment budgets, this workshop will demonstrate shooting on a range of cameras, from professional DSLR and mirrorless to smartphones. Both artificial and daylight lighting is explored, including simple DIY options to get you started.

Workshop: Photographing People with Meg Hewitt
Take your portraits to the next level with Oculi Collective photographer and BIFB Event Producer Meg Hewitt. In this workshop, you’ll learn to stop fearing the word ‘no’, and tips and techniques for photographing people in public with their permission. Meg will show you how to stick with your subject until you know you’ve got the shot.


BIFB runs from August 26 – October 22. Entry into BIFB Core venues is ticketed, with day passes costing $25.

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