The Fineman New Photography Award 2021 Exhibition

Following the inaugural run in 2019, the Ballarat International Foto Biennale presents the second iteration of The Fineman New Photography Award. This award places the focus on photographic artists working throughout the Asia-Pacific region, seeking to showcase work that is beginning to receive critical attention. This award allows photographers and photo media artists to submit a series of works responding to the Biennale premise Past. Tense. Now.

Six finalists were chosen by an international jury of leading curators and gallery directors, provided with a unique exhibition opportunity. Exhibiting finalists are Pierfrancesco Celada [HKG], Michelle Chan [HKG] Aakriti Chandervanshi [IND], Liss Fenwick [AUS], JinQian Luo [CHN] and Moe Suzuki [JPN].
This award is proudly supported by Alane Fineman.


Fayen Ke-Xiao d’Evie, Artist, Writer, Lecturer RMIT University
Pippa Dickson, Director Asialink Arts
Gwen Lee, Director Singapore International Photography Festival
Eriko Noguchi, Independent Curator
Miho Odaka, Independent Curator of Photography
Jim Ramer, Director MFA Photography Parsons School of Design
Shubigi Rao, Artist and Writer
Bala Starr, Director La Trobe Art Institute
Alexander Supartono, Curator and Lecturer Edinburgh Napier University
Fiona Sweet, Director, Ballarat International Foto Biennale

Award Winners

Judges awarded The Fineman New Photography Award 2021 first prize of $10,000 to Liss Fenwick for her series Back Out. Of the winning series, judges said, “Her work expands, with great vividness, the value-judgements of terrain, land use and function. Fenwick’s series Back Out rewrites the conventions of natural beauty and barrenness, with a framing that is empathetic as it is uncompromising… Strongly charged emotive images that look at the immediate surroundings beyond cliché images. A starkly beautiful, ineffable series which presents new readings on Australia rural area which is hardly known by the wider audience outside of the country… Fenwick’s images carry an uncanny sense that arises out of the stress points of the past and are manifest in beauty found in a hostile and bleak landscape.”

Honourable mention was given to JinQian Luo, The Prosperity of the Sixdomestic Animals, 2020

The People’s Choice award winner is Aakriti Chandervanshi, After Eden, 2020

Liss Fenwick [Australia] – WINNER

Back Out
Subverting the nationalistic and colonial roles that depictions of landscape and rural people held in the past, Back Out presents a series of photographs in Northern Territory. This project explores the community that I was born in and belong to, and the increasing sense of nihilism, boredom, and decay I feel there. It draws on the growing outsider status of rural people to mainstream Australia, and the political implications of what Andrés Rodríguez-Pose describes as the revenge of the “places that don’t matter”, such as the rise of regional populism. The images respond to this growing alienation from mainstream Australia, from the land, among the cosmic vastness of the Australian continent. My practice involves efforts to try and befriend, value, and make meaning around landscape elements, such as meat ants, termites and trees, as a possibly futile yet tender counterbalance to bleak rural places.
I acknowledge the Larrakia people as the sovereign custodians of the lands and waters of Humpty Doo and surrounds, and pay respect to their Elders, culture and connection to Country. I also acknowledge the Kulin Nations as the sovereign custodians of Naarm/Melbourne where I also live and work. First Nations sovereignty was never ceded.

Aakriti Chandervanshi [India] – PEOPLE’S CHOICE

After Eden
Amidst the Garden of Eden lies empty elysian fields, still spaces, and the silence that echoes in them. Located in the southern outskirt of the Kathmandu Valley are Khokana and Bungamati, twin villages encompassing an archeological site, Ku Dey. Once the fog rises, one begins to see that the inherent beauty of these sacred lands is tempered with modern signs of intrusion and degradation.
Locals believe that their land was blessed by goddess Shikali Devi to begin a new settlement. Decades later, the land has been proposed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, waiting for restoration and preservation. Lately it serves as a ground for a socio-political battle, with the land under threat by the State initiated Kathmandu-Tarai Expressway, a 78-kilometre “fast track” road conceived to bring tourists from an un-built airport in Tarai to the capital in just 90 minutes. This is a velocity whose casualty would mean the displacement of the settlements that remain dotted across the sacred land. The indigenous inhabitants unite to save the last vestiges of their motherland against ecological destruction and displacement.
After Eden is a body of work which attempts to mediate between the evocative past and the elusive present. Tainted terrains are a constant reminder of how the notion of progress trumps people, continually erasing and overwriting the land and memory. Looking at the way physical traces rupture the organic terrain, questions are raised about the need for this emerging fast track as it slices through these vast landscapes.

Pierfrancesco Celada [Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China]

When I feel down I take a train to the Happy Valley, Hong Kong 2014-2020
Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated cities in the world; a multicultural environment with a mixed collective memory, an intersection of experiences and a complex sense of belonging. I moved to Hong Kong in October 2014, at the beginning of the Umbrella revolution. The movement, while demanding a truly universal suffrage, contributed to further divided public opinion and augmented anti-mainland sentiments, especially among the younger generations.
These sentiments have exploded again in 2019 further deepening Hong Kong’s current identity crisis. Hong Kong is currently living through one of the most delicate moments of its history, facing new, growing uncertainties before the “one country, two systems” arrangement will cease to exist in 2046.

Pierfrancesco Celada
When I feel down I take a train to the Happy Valley, Hong Kong, 2014-2020

Michelle Chan [Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China]

My mother always says, “Never leave a grain of rice in your bowl or else you’ll marry a pimple face.” It is a virtue in our Chinese culture to treasure food. As of 2018, the amount of food waste accounts for 31% of the municipal solid waste in Hong Kong. According to the statistics published by the Environmental Protection Department, Hong Kong generates approximately 3,565 tonnes of food waste each day. Two-thirds comes from households accounting for 0.32kg per person per day, equivalent to around 4 apples, 6 eggs or one and a half pieces of steak disposed per person per day.
Under the influence of COVID-19 with lockdown and social distancing, households are either getting more takeaway, which generates more plastic, or cooking more at home. This series DayDayCook / ???? was birthed out of these realities and has become a small project which looks at food waste from typical Chinese dishes we cook at home. Each image is constructed with kitchen scraps to make up a classic homemade Chinese dish.

JinQian Luo [China]

The Prosperity of the Sixdomestic Animals
I was born in a peasant family in rural China. Since primary school, my father taught me photography. From this, I developed a strong interest in the medium. In 2017, I found that, in the process of urbanization within China, there were various problems in rural areas. The traditional Chinese family ethics were gradually disappearing, and the spiritual home was facing a huge test. I asked my father to make a “fake animal” device and place it in the real scene of my hometown for shooting. Combining the fabricated and real of the device and earth art, I used the fake items to restore the once beautiful yet now disappeared rural life.
With the advent of the mechanized farming age, farmers raise six domestic animals for their meat instead of as labour. I thought of using “fake” farming animals to take the place of the “missing” real farming animals. By placing fabricated animals in the real scene of a hometown, the various confusions the countryside is encountering are expressed.

Moe Suzuki [Japan]

When I confront my father, who is gradually losing his sight due to glaucoma, SOKOHI in Japanese, I find I am the one that still clings to the past when he could see. My father, whose field of vision drifts in a hazy outline, wakes up to a darker and more narrow morning every day.
Although it is impossible to fully understand what he sees, this project is an attempt to construct the imaginary world which may lay in front of my father’s gaze that now never meets mine. He kept journals since he was small and took photographs while traveling. Although those visual archives lie there without being looked back at by their owner, they instead became a platform to imagine the gradual narrowing of his vision that is now disintegrated into blind spots. It was as if our shared visual memories from the past are fading away as his glaucoma progresses, although being unable to see does not necessarily mean forgetting. He appears to accept his fate calmly, slowly walking towards the new world through those blind spots. But I find myself still being trapped in his past, sighted figure, while trying to understand the world in haze that he faces at this moment.