In Focus Curator Forum

Image: Here Is Your Horizon (2019) at Cement Fondu, curated by Talia Smith. Image courtesy of Four Minutes to Midnight and Cement Fondu

  • Applications are open for the 2021 In Focus Curator Forum, presented by the Ballarat International Foto Biennale and generously supported by The Ian Potter Foundation.

    The In Focus Curator Forum is designed as an intensive and rewarding free program to develop the practice of curation. This professional development program is an exclusive opportunity for Australian emerging and mid-career curators. APPLY BELOW

    Held from 30 August – 2 September 2021, the In Focus Curator Forum will take place under the backdrop of the 2021 Ballarat International Foto Biennale (BIFB) and will include event invitations, networking opportunities and insights into the production of the Biennale.

    A group of 10 curators will be selected from an open callout to be mentored by, and gain unique insight into, the careers of selected accomplished curators. Over four days, both the expert and budding curators will present curatorial case studies and participate in innovative group activities including workshops, explorations and exchanges – all designed to interrogate curatorial practice, sustainability and envision the future.

    We are very pleased to have an incredible panel of expert curators from diverse backgrounds and practice, who will act as experienced guides in navigating the curatorial terrain. In addition to the curator presentations, you will have access to their knowledge and perspective through participation in lively discussions that encourage innovation around the most pressing curatorial concerns, and you will be provided with unparalleled networking opportunities.

    Meet our curators:


    Nici Cumpston is a proud Barkandji artist, curator, writer and educator. Having studied fine arts, specialising in Photography at the University of South Australia, she has worked as a photographic lecturer and wrote and delivered the inaugural course Indigenous Art, Culture and Design at the University of South Australia.

    Cumpston is the Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art at the Art Gallery of South Australia and since 2014 has also been the Artistic Director of Tarnanthi a biennial citywide festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art with an annual Art Fair and major exhibition at the Art Gallery of South Australia.

    She has been exhibiting her works of art since 1998 and in that time has been invited to participate in many prestigious awards and group exhibitions. Her work is held in major institutions and private collections nationally and internationally. Cumpston combines her time curating, collaborating and creating her own photographic works that share stories of Aboriginal occupation and ongoing survival on the land.

    Image by Saul Steed.


    Dr. Alasdair Foster is a writer, researcher and award-winning curator who works worldwide, especially in Asia and Latin America. He is Ambassador to the Asia-Pacific PhotoForum and publisher of the Talking Pictures – interviews with photographers around the world. He has twenty years’ experience heading national arts institutions in Europe and Australia, and over thirty-five years of working in the public cultural sector.

    He was previously director of the Australia Centre for Photography (1998–2011) and founding director of Fotofeis, the award-winning international festival of photo-based art in Scotland (1991–1997), the largest photographic event in Europe in the 1990s. He has served as managing editor of Photofile magazine (1998–2009), president of the Contemporary Arts Organisations of Australia and Chairman of the Conference for European Photographers.

    Alasdair has curated several hundred exhibitions in Europe and Oceania and, further afield, in countries as diverse as Bangladesh, China, Colombia, Dubai, Guatemala, Russia and Singapore. He has written extensively on photography for books, journals and periodicals in many parts of the world, and sat on the selection panel for many photographic awards nationally and internationally.

    Alasdair Foster is currently Professor of Culture in Community Wellbeing in the School of Public Health at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, and Adjunct Professor in the School of Art of RMIT University, Melbourne.

    Image by Murray Fredericks.


    Since 2010, Sunyoung Kim has been working for The Museum of Photography, Seoul (MoPS) as Curator in charge of exhibitions and international relations. Kim graduated with a Bachelor of Creative Arts at The University of Melbourne, and received her M.A. in Art Theory from Korea National University of Arts.

    Kim served as a juror for Sony World Photography Award 2021, Portrait of Humanity 2021/The British Journal of Photography&1854 Media, PHOTOFAIRS 2020 Exposure Award and Onbit Documentary Final Portfolio Awards 2020, and as a portfolio reviewer in various platforms. She acted as co-curator for Brassaï, Koudelka, Giacomelli: Romantic Melancholy and Greetings from South Korea, presented in Jimei x Arles International Photo Festival 2019, 2018 respectively. Recently organized a show, titled The Centennial of Korean art photography 1920-2020, currently being shown at The State Russian Museum and Exhibition Centre (ROSPHOTO) and scheduled to present in The Lithuanian National Museum of Art in 2022.

    Kim has been responsible for the series of Korean Emerging Artist shows based upon the MoPS’s Portfolio Open Call since 2015. She co-published the book Performance, Politics of Body: Criticism and Meta Criticism.


    Vikki McInnes is a writer, curator and director of Sarah Scout Presents, a private gallery she established with Kate Barber in 2009 to represent and develop opportunities for Australian artists with critically-engaged, conceptually-driven art practices. She is also co-founder of the contemporary art fair Spring1883, which was established in 2014 to consider alternative industry paradigms.

    Alongside these private contexts, McInnes is coordinator of the Master of Fine Arts Program at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne and managing editor of Art + Australia, which has been published at the VCA since 2016. She has worked in Victoria’s contemporary arts sector for 25 years including from 1996–2003 at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA), where she was program manager. From 2003–4 she was curator at the TarraWarra Museum of Art and from 2005–15 director of the Margaret Lawrence Gallery. She is also currently undertaking a PhD at the University of Melbourne considering contemporary feminist art practice and the archive in Australia.

    McInnes has written for art publications including Art + Australia, Art Monthly, Photofile, un Magazine and Australian Art Collector, and has edited four collections of writings on contemporary art: Red (2001, with Stuart Koop), Bureau (2009, with Kate Daw), Fabrication: artists writing on art in Melbourne (2012) and Bureau 2 (2014).

    In addition to local curatorial programs, McInnes has extensive experience developing and managing significant international projects. These have included Neverwhere (Istanbul, 2015), Sleep on the Left Side (Delhi, 2012) and Silenzi (Venice, 2006) as well as participation in the India Art Fair (2012 and 2013) and the Auckland Art Fair (2016 and 2018). She has been invited to participate in DFAT programs in India and Turkey and has established collaborative partnerships with Asialink, Creative Victoria, the Australia India Institute and the Australia Council for the Arts to deliver these projects.


    Talia Smith is an artist and curator from Aotearoa, New Zealand and based in Warrang, Sydney. She is of Cook Island, Samoan and New Zealand European heritage. Her artistic and curatorial practice explores time, memory and familial histories with a focus on time based practices. Smith is currently researching and creating an archive of Moana heritage video and moving image artists which saw its first exhibition and publication presented at Artspace Sydney in 2019.

    She has curated exhibitions at various institutions in Australia and New Zealand such as the churchie emerging art prize at IMA Brisbane, In a World of Wounds at Artbank Sydney, Here is your Horizon at Cement Fondu, More than all the Ocean between us at Artspace Sydney and The Shape of Memory at The Lock-up Newcastle among others. She was the emerging curator at Firstdraft in 2017, Artbank’s emerging curator in 2018 and participated in 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art’s curatorial intensive in 2016 and was named one of Art Collector’s ‘tastemakers’ for their 2018 ’50 things you should know’ issue.

    Smith’s writing has appeared in various publications and catalogue essays such as VAULT Magazine, Art Almanac and Running Dog. In 2020 she completed a two month curatorial residency at Basis in Frankfurt, Germany and has recently completed her Masters of Fine Arts (Research) at UNSW, Sydney. She currently works as the curator at Granville Centre Art Gallery in Sydney.


    Jake Treacy is a curator, arts writer and poet working on the unceded sovereign lands of the Wurundjeri woi-wurrung and Boon Wurrung Peoples of the Kulin Nation. They are a queer, non-binary person who is interested in radical gestures of love, transformation and healing through community collaboration. Their practice employs numinous acts through exhibition-making, performativity, and the spoken and written word.

    They are a University of Melbourne graduate with a Master of Art Curatorship (2017) and Postgraduate Art History (2013) who has previously co-directed an artist-run initiative, sat on grant advisory panels, and written published copy on numerous contemporary arts practices. They currently curate at Incinerator Gallery and sit on the BLINDSIDE board of Artistic Directors, having previously curated across national art galleries as well as non-conventional public spaces, participated in a creative symposia, and performed poetic dissertations. Their current practice and research is informed by dreams, sex, queer mysticism, and doom metal.

    Image courtesy of Georgia Kartas.

    Your involvement:

    Participating curators are expected to present one 45 minute session to the group across the four days. Your application will require you to pitch a session plan for this. We ask that you tailor your presentation to your areas of specialty and relevance, with a focus on the photographic art form where appropriate. This session, for example, may include a discussion of your most notable show, your most challenging, the complexities (social, cultural) of working within your designated community or the artists who you work with. The format is open and may be a lecture, workshop, Q&A etc, and we encourage interactive sessions.

    You will be required to be fully involved in the duration of the program, contributing to the discussions and explorations posed in addition to your curatorial presentation. On occasion there will be social activities that take place outside of the four full days that you will be invited to attend, such as dinners and drinks. Attendance to these is optional but encouraged for you to establish networks and to make the most out of the program.

    One day of the program will be reserved for portfolio reviews where selected photographic artists will present their work to both the established and emerging curators, gaining feedback and creating industry networks. You will be required to review and provide critical feedback for up to 7 photographic artists.

    Selected curators will each receive:

    1. Return travel to Ballarat
    2. Five nights accommodation 29 August – 2 September 2021
    3. AUD $50 per day per diem allowance
    4. Invitations to the VIP and Vernissage, 27 – 29 August 2021
    5. An unparalleled networking and professional development experience
    6. Note: The Biennale opening weekend is from 27 – 29 August 2021, and we welcome you to join us earlier for the opening festivities.

  • Applications open: Now
    Applications close: 21 March 2021
    Selected curators contacted: 2 April 2021

    The In Focus Curators Forum is generously funded by The Ian Potter Foundation.

    Who can apply for the In Focus Curator Forum? Curators from any discipline with a keen interest or expertise in photographic media can apply. You will be required to commit to travel to Ballarat and stay for 5 nights.

    Note: It is a requirement of all applicants that they possess fluency in written and spoken English language. If you have any specific access needs or are an applicant who is d/Deaf, hard of hearing or person with disability, please get in contact with us to discuss any accessibility requirements. We welcome and encourage applicants from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, and First Nations curators.

    COVID-19 Restriction Plan: In the case of travel or other related restrictions, the In Focus Curator Forum may take place online. The structure and nature of activities may vary, as may the hours of participation. In this instance the accommodation, travel and per diem costs will not be applicable.

    How to enter: To complete the application process, you will need:

    1. Cover letter detailing why you are applying and what you hope to gain from this program
    2. Biography and CV
    3. Two letters of support
    4. Examples of previous work – submitted in the form of JPEGS or PDF
    5. A brief summary of a proposed presentation or workshop

    APPLY NOW for the 2021 In Focus Curator Forum

    Enquiries: info@ballaratfoto.org

    Entry Terms and Conditions