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GradFoto 2022 Exhibition

The Ballarat International Foto Biennale proudly presents the GradFoto 2022 exhibition, featuring 22 finalists from 12 universities. This award celebrates the creative excellence of graduating students, open to emerging contemporary artists from Australian institutions whose artistic practice includes photography. Following its inaugural launch in 2020, GradFoto 2022 continues to showcase the graduates’ calibre of photographic work to new audiences across Australia and beyond. GradFoto is an annual award presented each year for graduating artists. For all enquiries, please email info@ballaratfoto.org

Judges

JEFF MOORFOOT OAM

Founding director of the Ballarat International Foto Biennale, founder of the “free radicals” magazine, Editor at “BETA developments in Photography”.

VANESSA GERRANS

CEO, Ballarat International Foto Biennale

PETE VOLICH

Creative Producer, Ballarat International Foto Biennale


The judges were excited by this year’s level of diverse practice across numerous photographic disciplines. The judging was incredibly rigorous and sparked great debate. Ballarat International Foto Biennale recognises how important it is for photo-media graduates to have opportunities as soon as they graduate so along with selecting an overall winner, four additional artists were awarded as “Highly Commended” and have the opportunity of being included in the festival in 2023.

We extend sincere appreciation to Jeff Moorfoot OAM, founding director of the Ballarat International Foto Biennale for his valuable contribution to the judging process for the GradFoto 2022 award. Thank you to Canberra School of Art; Charles Darwin University; Charles Sturt University; Curtin University, Collarts, Deakin University; Edith Cowan University; Federation University Australia; Griffith University; LCI Melbourne; Melbourne Polytechnic, Monash University; Murdoch University; National Art School; North Metropolitan Tafe, Oxygen College; Photography Studies College; Queensland College of Art, RMIT University; Swinburne University of Technology; TAFE New South Wales; University of New South Wales; University of Tasmania; University of Technology Sydney; University of Wollongong; Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne and; Whitehouse Institute of Design for participating in GradFoto 2022.


Award Winner – Samantha Poling

Samantha Poling, Faded, 2022  

The GradFoto 2022 prize of $1000 is awarded to graduate Samantha Poling from Photography Studies College for their series Home Beautiful.

Jeff Moorfoot said, “The judges considered a whole range of criteria in selecting the winner of GradFoto 2022, based not only on aesthetic and technical aspects of the work but also on the selection of images and sequencing of their presentation. Prizes such as GradFoto are a great opportunity for developing photo-media artists to gauge where they sit at this early stage of their careers and can be a great boost to their future development. Samantha Poling’s submission ticked all of these boxes and presented a folio that included aspects of both photography and design in a considered and engaging manner.  It can be challenging for a student photographer to break out from a cloistered education environment to put their work out for critical assessment by an informed and respected panel, so I congratulate all the participants for having the courage to enter GradFoto 2022 and wish you all well on your respective photographic journeys.”

Highly commended – Samara Sutton Baker

Samara Sutton Baker, Stairs, Photographs of Altered Landscapes series, 2022  

The judges said, “A beautifully considered and intuitive response to the 1975 exhibition ‘New Topographics: Photographs’ of man-altered landscapes. A turning point in the history of photography, a radical shift away from traditional depictions of landscape. Sutton-Baker’s expertly crafted photographic imagined spaces shift the viewer’s perspective, questioning their surroundings and their position within it.”

Highly commended – Victoria Talaina

Victoria Talaina, Reboot, 2022  

The judges said, “The photographic series ‘Reboot’ was highly resolved, and a refreshing take on an editorial assignment. There is a bold and playful sense of colour, and her sense of humour is palpable!”

Highly commended – Rob Johnston

Rob Johnston, Coalescence, 2022  

The judges said, “The work ‘Coalescence’ was highly resolved and a polished body of work. It had a fresh and interesting take on the discussion around ‘Post Photography’ within the digital age. It used highly experimental parameters in the process of developing the work that raised the question of what a photograph is and could be.”

Highly commended – Kyle Archie Knight

Kyle Archie Knight, Cruising for a Bruising, 2022  

The judges said, “Cruising for a Bruising’ employs camp strategies to document Naarm’s (Melbourne) suburbs. It has a fresh and inquisitive approach that comments on a rich and layered history of Australian suburbia within contemporary art practice, in particular, photography.”



Vote for the People’s Choice Award winner

Vote for your favourite series from the selected finalists. The People’s Choice Award winner will receive a $500 prize. The People’s Choice Award is open until 6 February 2023. Be sure to place your vote.

GradFoto 2022 Finalists


Samantha Poling [Photography Studies College VIC] – WINNER


Home Beautiful

I have always been fascinated with objects and other people’s stuff, particularly with how things become the external representation of our personal and collective consciousness and a symbol of our place in society. In creating a home, we often surround ourselves with a selection of possessions, imbuing them with memories and tethering those objects to our notions of family and home. We see beautiful homes in all forms of today’s media. Even the language used to describe these idealised creations alludes to their constructed and unrealistic nature – homes are “staged”, they have “good bones”, and walls are “whitewashed”. But behind the facades are messy homes – physically, psychologically, and emotionally. In this series, I am questioning what is real and what is a facade as it pertains to the concepts of house and home and exploring photography’s complicity in maintaining the facade.



Samara Sutton Baker [Griffith University, QLD] – HIGHLY COMMENDED

Photographs of Altered Landscapes

Do we possess profound relationships with the places we inhabit? Based on a personal narrative of displacement, this series objectively documents places that do not exist. Mundane sites of serial sequence, order and structure unravel and disband calling into question the automatization of our immediate environments. Responding to the 1975 exhibition, New Topographics: Photographs of man-altered landscapes, the project asks the audience to consider how they identify with their surroundings.



Victoria Talaina [Whitehouse Institute of Design VIC] – HIGHLY COMMENDED

Reboot

Reboot is a fashion editorial paying homage to Victoria’s colourful aesthetic and love for humour. Inspired by sitcoms and focusing on breakfast, the editorial offers a playful narrative of colour and pattern. Reboot features a bold and fun colour palette, with egg-citing textural elements weaved throughout. Filled with eggs on toast, slowly waking up, the rush of getting ready, and everything in between a good morning. Reboot aims to make the viewer laugh and indulge in this eggcellent fashion editorial. This has been achieved through photography, videography, graphics, and illustrations.



Rob Johnston [Photography Studies College VIC] – HIGHLY COMMENDED

Coalescence

Coalescence is the project I developed and completed as part of the Master of Arts Photography program at the Photography Studies College in 2022. I created it to explore the intimate relationship between the camera and the photographer, specifically, from within a relationship where the photographer is visually impaired. The dichotomy of the perfectly engineered camera with its lens and the imperfect human eye – and how they interact. Particularly the frailty and vulnerability that is borne from that.

I have approached the making of this work through the philosophy of post-photography by which I am using the medium of photography beyond its traditional definitions or methodologies in a digital age – developing new techniques or forms of experimentation that raise the question of what a photograph is. In conjunction with this experimentation within my photographic practice, I set these research questions as the foundation for my intentions when making the work, as well as the research undertaken during this period: How can abstract photographic self-portraits be used to provide an alternative representation of a lived experience to an audience? and; How can this methodology inform the viewer about impaired vision and perception?

The work was presented as a series of large-scale prints.



Kyle Archie Knight [RMIT University VIC] – HIGHLY COMMENDED

Cruising for a Bruising

While suburbia is difficult to define, most people in Australia come from suburban humdrum backgrounds. Naarm’s (Melbourne’s) suburbs are often overlooked for their banality. They are inconsequential and paid no attention to due to their monotony. Cruising for a Bruising is focused on how through employing camp strategies, humdrum suburbia can be transformed into something camp and interesting. Camp is an acquisitive worldview, an aesthetic, it’s political. Camp is the appreciation of bad taste, finding pleasure in the daggy than the opulent, the love of the failure that despite itself, tries to be so serious. Influenced by queer historical and social understandings, such as cruising, camp, and growing up queer in suburbia, the series actively works to question our own visual and theoretical understandings and assumptions, and biases of what suburbia can be and look like. Historically the suburbs have been a place to flee from for queer people, they have not been welcoming due to homophobic attitudes. However, due to counter-urbanisation the suburbs, like society in general, have become more queer-friendly. Suburbia by nature is not camp, but through the methodology and methods, they are cast as camp. ‘Cruising for a Bruising’ serves as a love letter to the vanishing humdrum suburbia of Naarm, and finding beauty and humour through a queer, camp lens.




Hugo Webster [RMIT University VIC]

The “moment of immersive connection” describes a phenomenon of experience akin to the Zen moment (sometimes referred to as satori), a moment of inward understanding and comprehension. Investigating this, the work explores theories of transparency and symmetry in our perception of art, finding ephemerality in moments of subjective rapport. Unpacking the revelatory capacity in the landscape, the work frames its experience through Minor White’s inner landscape, contextualising the work as a method of seeing a world beyond surfaces.

Originally portrayed in the form of a multichannel projection through constructed panels, the work proposes that the “moment of immersive connection” is found as we experience the internal landscape, phenomenologically, in the context of the multi-disciplinary installation.

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Kaede James Takamoto [Photography Studies College VIC]

Milk Flower

My life is formed by the ongoing exploration of my identity as a Japanese Australian, and the impacts of family, history, and generational trauma from immigration. This exploration has recently led me to read letters written to me by my father. These letters often omit certain memories or reveal how my interpretation and experience of those memories differ from his.

Milk Flower, named after the common flora Snowdrop, explores the endless oscillation and visual unravelling between the stories we’re given, and how we understand them. In my childhood home located in Gembrook, Victoria, the Snowdrop is often the first flower to emerge in sporadic outbursts like the memoried fragments of our past. The Milk Flowers themselves mirror the experience of reclaiming my memory: they have a medicinal quality of treating Alzheimer’s symptoms.

Beginning with anecdotes, I reprocessed and interacted with archival images, as well as capturing photographs around the home and natural surroundings in which I grew up, reconstructing scenes from my family album. I presented this work as suspended and layered silk fabric which has been printed on pivotal photographs from the series. The choice of fabric was an intentional nod to the nature of memory, shifting as people move past it, and visible from any angle. The interaction was highly encouraged as memory is often sparked by our senses.

I examine how moments in our past often interact with each other and create an incomplete, imperfect yet complex construction of who we are; the alluring fractures of memory.

Kaede James Takamoto
Milk Flowers, 2022
Kaede James Takamoto
Milk Flowers, 2022
Kaede James Takamoto
Milk Flowers, 2022
Kaede James Takamoto
Milk Flowers, 2022
Kaede James Takamoto
Milk Flowers, 2022
Kaede James Takamoto
Milk Flowers, 2022
Kaede James Takamoto
Milk Flowers, 2022
Kaede James Takamoto
Milk Flowers, 2022
Kaede James Takamoto
Milk Flowers, 2022
Kaede James Takamoto
Milk Flowers, 2022
Kaede James Takamoto
Milk Flowers, 2022



Ashleigh Speechley [LCI Melbourne VIC]

My muse for a year or two

In My muse for a year or two my family members take on characters illustrating relationships once hopeful now decayed. Utilising a few mediums, such as black and white 35mm film, Polaroid, and Tintype. My mum, dad and little cousin embody my vulnerabilities as I paint this considerably dire, melancholic narrative. It chronicles the intricate accounts of a soured relationship as I attempt to speak to the things, we hide about ourselves. Using what is traditionally considered bad framing, I frame my characters emotively, albeit rather uncomfortably as to add to the sense of unease and impending heartbreak. Ultimately this series speaks to deep longing and quiet desperation, the comfort and discomfort of familiarity. How we grow, fail to grow, and grow apart in relationships.




Adrian Song [RMIT University VIC]

Whispering a secret into a sealed bag

When you’re raised in a house where no one speaks you start to listen to what isn’t said. The possibilities are endless, so you understand very quickly that not all whispers are meant for you. Whispering a Secret into a Sealed Bag presents itself as an indecipherable mystery. A labyrinth of clues centred around a family unit leads readers down an indiscernible path. By interacting with the various twists and turns throughout the book, participants are invited into a state of ‘not knowing. In which there is a premise of a family secret, but no real sense of certainty or closure amidst the speculation. Drawing on family archives and my photographs, the project offers a simulation of my childhood experiences, an environment shrouded in secrecy and whispers, centred around the feeling that everyone knows something, except for you.




Manca Slapernik [North Metropolitan TAFE WA]

Nudus

A series of tea-toned Cyanotype images are part of my Fine art book project called Nudus. My love for Fine Art Nude and the alternative printing process led me to create the book in which I attempted to convey the essence of the female form. The whole idea behind this project was to regard a female body with respect and an awareness that the image is a portrayal of an entire being captured in an instance, not segments of a female body, objectified and sexualised.




Judd Sell [North Metropolitan TAFE WA]

This body of work was inspired by a stressful year that was shrouded in implications from the deaths of two people very close to me. I wanted to explore ideas surrounding the afterlife, beauty, and art. I wanted to create imagery that reflects my feelings about loved ones entering the ether. Through a lens of the heavenly and the wicked, I have captured fallen angels who have been rejected from heaven and hell, trapped in an unknown world beautifully expressing dismay. Taking inspiration from ideas surrounding fallen angels and art that explore these ideas such as Michelangelo and the Renaissance art movement. By referencing recent life experiences and art while combining my interpretations of beauty, I have been able to explore ideas based on colour, movement and death.




Emma Sanders [Photography Studies College VIC]

For this series, I was interested in showing how the interplay of light, shadows, materials, and patterns contribute to the visual understanding of interior space. By removing contextual information and instead focusing on small details, such as how light falls onto an object or the shape and lines of a structure, the images show a sense of temporality and the transformation of space due to the evolution of light. The subtle variations in light speak to the interconnectedness between the interior and exterior, with the outside light informing and altering internal reflections. The series therefore also explores space as something that encompasses mental and emotional experiences.




Jesse Pretorius [Edith Cowan University WA]

Suburban Expeditions

Suburban Expeditions is a journey through the urban sprawl of Perth from the point-of-view of a sojourner: “a stranger in a strange land.” What is this flâneur to make of a suburban-industrial complex? — a “treeless plain” of non-places, where the banal meets the beach, and the sublime is to be found somewhere north of the river. What are these artifacts? — a combination shopping trolley/barbecue in a Mirrabooka car park; a Christmas tree of surveillance cameras in December; a traffic cone on top of a light pole in downtown Morley — placed there by aliens? Stranger in a strange land, indeed.

Suburban Expeditions comprises a blend of contemporary urban landscapes, street photography, and street portraiture. It aims to explore the visual poetry of daily life in suburban and urban contexts through photographic anecdotes and encounters; Capturing the often overlooked and sometimes transient moments in the many non-places that make up life in suburbia. The works highlight this banal absurdism, but more broadly address themes of gentrification, globalisation, consumerism, surveillance, and waste culture.

Jess Pretorius
Suburban Expeditions, 2022
Jess Pretorius
Suburban Expeditions, 2022
Jess Pretorius
Suburban Expeditions, 2022
Jess Pretorius
Suburban Expeditions, 2022
Jess Pretorius
Suburban Expeditions, 2022
Jess Pretorius
Suburban Expeditions, 2022
Jess Pretorius
Suburban Expeditions, 2022
Jess Pretorius
Suburban Expeditions, 2022
Jess Pretorius
Suburban Expeditions, 2022
Jess Pretorius
Suburban Expeditions, 2022
Jess Pretorious
Suburban Expeditions, 2022
Jess Pretorius
Suburban Expeditions, 2022
Jess Pretorius
Suburban Expeditions, 2022



See Yean Pong [ Curtin University WA]

Balance of ideal and reality

Originally from Malaysia, See Yean Pong has been studying in Australia since 2017. Her series Balance of ideal and reality was created during the COVID lockdowns and driven by the felt need to escape. The series focuses on surrealism and fantasy and was inspired by a photographer named Kang Hee Kim. Originally driven by a desire to return to pre-lockdown and quarantine requirements, the series continued due to the prohibitive cost and logistics of returning to her home in Malaysia. By acknowledging it’s not possible to change everything back to normal immediately she was able to create the world for herself in the photographs.




Kayla May Petty-Kook [ RMIT University VIC]

Jordyn Smith

Showcasing the fashion work of Ballarat designer Jordyn Smith. Playing with exaggerated facial and body expressions as well as dramatic lighting to accentuate the quirky and extraterrestrial elements of garments.




Spenser Paul [RMIT University VIC]

Road Noise

Road Noise is a body of documentary work that explores the identity of the motorcyclist and its relationship with place through the narrative of a cross-country road trip from Los Angeles to New York City. Employing visual ethnographic techniques from the perspective of participant observer, Road Noise is an in-depth examination of the culture of the motorcyclist in the United States and the spaces in which the culture is performed. The original intention of Road Noise was to create a critical framework that critiqued what had been perceived as a male-dominated culture that had been commoditised by capitalism. What was found instead, was a robust culture of mostly men, that for the most part had rejected attempts to commodify it and had pivoted to an accepting community of individuals that by riding together, sharing stories, and exploring the space that they inhabit, create an identity that is focused on lifting one another up. As the road trip progressed, the motorcyclist’s relation to place became a serious focus of this body of work. As the motorcyclist experiences the landscape around them, they become a feature rather than a visitor. They perform within the landscape without the insulation of a car, a willing yet mandatory participant.




Johanna Ng [National Art School NSW]

Eastwood

Eastwood is a series of film photographs taken during routine walks in Eastwood, a Sydney suburb on Wallumedegal land with 48.8% of its population identifying as Chinese-Australian and a place where I grew up. Its train station famously divides Eastwood’s shopping district into two distinct hubs, known colloquially amongst locals as the “Chinese side” and the “Korean side.” The series avoids a direct portrait of this lively centre but uses the suburb as a site for contemplation on the liminality of the diasporic experience. There is no defined subject as architecture, people, land and sky slide over one another, fragmented through transparent and reflective surfaces. Eastwood was also an exercise to think through the transformative power of the camera operator’s subjectivity. Instead of conforming to the traditional formula of subject, foreground, and background, I aim the camera elsewhere to create compositions where seemingly dissonant things collide upon one surface. This process allowed me a chance to feel through my own experience of diaspora—a hybrid of histories, communities, and cultures that blend in one space, simultaneously suspending and producing a holistic perspective.





Holly Jennings [Whitehouse Institute of Design VIC]

Allure

Allure is a food and fashion editorial, exploring the world of seafood and the fish market. In a series of unique images, Allure investigates the ugly and the beautiful of seafood. Capturing the crossroads of high fashion and seafood, pairing them together in a way that just makes sense. Unpacking the textures, shapes and colours involved in it, equally celebrates fish and fashion, highlighting knits, slivers, and plastics.



Adam Epps [Whitehouse Institute of Design VIC]

The Woman in the Red Dress


The Woman in the Red Dress is a monochromatic editorial celebration of a local up-and-coming designer, Marvi Barillo. Her garment is so simple yet complex. I wanted to make its regality the focus through the bold tones, textures and poses.



Rhy Dyball [RMIT University VIC]

As far as the mind can see

As far as the mind can see responds to the commonly shared pervasive sense of dread that characterise life in our era. Evoking anxiety that permeates the contemporary consciousness. Taking inspiration from globalisation’s effects creates anxiety and dread due to politics, global affairs, and economic crisis. Causing people to disconnect from traditional societal values like family, nation, and work. Because of this, people have become more individualistic and are taking their paths, disorientating people on which path to take in life. Creating a sense of dread for who we are and who we want to become. These attributes of society create a broadly shared sense of pervasive tension. These emotions of anxiety and looming dread are what I express in my imagery, referencing psychology and psychoanalysis to better understand how our subconscious reacts when shown certain cinematic techniques. Each image is a composite of roughly seven to fifteen images allowing acute attention to detail when crafting each image. Making each scene have a non-specific narrative that establishes a pregnant moment. Acting as a trigger that generates a sense of tension and uncertainty rather than a prescribed narrative.



Bridget Baskerville [Australian National University ACT]

Undercurrent

Undercurrent uses photography to explore waterways that have been impacted by human intervention around my hometown of Kandos, NSW, on Dabee Wiradjuri Country. These water systems have been dammed and diverted by industry, agriculture, and colonisation. By submerging mild steel plates in coal mine dams, the agency of water is highlighted through the texture and marks of corrosion formed on the plate surface. This method is a way to record bodies of water within a landscape that has many legal restrictions around how it is recorded. These works speak to the politicisation, economisation and ownership of water and how these factors reflect our social values of water.



Wilson Jedd Adams [Whitehouse Institute of Design VIC]


This series showcases the extreme sides of nightlife fashion. I intended for it to show the gritty, grimy elements in the nightlife with blurry imagery. As well as show the anecdote of going to a 7/11 after a late night out or calling someone up to get home. This series is showing a journey from the extreme beauty of prints that refers Leigh Bowery. Among my works is a strong reference to Club Kids and nightlife fashions. I intended for this photo series to serve as an Alice in Wonderland version of a night out.