2021 The Fineman New Photography Award

Since 2005 the Ballarat International Foto Biennale has been a force in the promotion of Australian and international photography. A two month-long festival event that immerses the historic town of Ballarat in photographic art, the Ballarat International Foto Biennale presents exhibitions of important contemporary photographers selected by leading curators in a rich artistic program.

For the second time, the Ballarat International Foto Biennale will launch The Fineman New Photography Award in 2021. This award places the focus on photographic artists working throughout the Asia Pacific region; seeking to find those whose work is beginning to receive critical attention and deserves to be seen by international audiences. A selection of up to 6 artists will receive an exhibition within the 2021 Biennale Core Program alongside other finalists, and receive support from BIFB curators in the realisation of their exhibition.

All applicants will have their submissions reviewed by an international jury of leading curators and gallery directors. Judges will award one cash prize of AUD $10,000 to an overall winner, with an extra AUD $1,000 being awarded the People’s Choice Award, as voted by the public.

Proudly supported by Alane Fineman.

2019 Winner
Yichen Zhou, Daily Talk 8, 2018  

Key Dates

Applications Open: Now
Applications Close: 23 April 2021, 11.59PM AEST
Finalists Contacted: 1 June 2021


The Ballarat International Foto Biennale The Fineman New Photography Award is open to all photographers aged 18 and over, and living in the Asia-Pacific. The submitted series must:

  1. Be accompanied by an artistic rationale responding to the 2021 premise of Past. Tense. Now.
  2. Be comprised of 4-20 images
  3. Be a finished project
  4. Have been executed and/or resolved within the year leading up to the deadline for submissions, that is after 1 January 2020
  5. Have not previously been exhibited anywhere in Australia

Past. Tense. Now.

The premise for the 2021 Ballarat International Foto Biennale is ‘Past. Tense. Now.’ Click here to read the full premise.


Fayen Ke-Xiao D’Evie

Fayen d’Evie is an artist and writer, born in Malaysia, raised in Aotearoa/New Zealand, and now living in the bushlands of unceded Dja Dja Wurrung country, Australia. Her projects are often collaborative, and resist spectatorship by inviting audiences into sensorial readings of artworks.

Fayen advocates blindness as a critical position that radically agitates ocular normative biases, offering methods for navigating intersensory conversations, the tangible and intangible, hallucination, uncertainty, the precarious, the invisible, and the concealed. Fayen is the founder of 3-ply, which approaches artist-led publishing as an experimental, critical, and poetic site for the creation, mutation, dispersal, and archiving of texts. With artist Katie West, Fayen co-founded the Museum Incognita, which activates collective readings of neglected and obscured histories.

Selected exhibitions include: The National, Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney, 2019; Eavesdropping, Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne, 2018; ee//hm, KADIST, San Francisco, 2016; Beyond Exhausted, Physics Room, Christchurch, 2016; […] {…} […], Gertrude Glasshouse, Melbourne 2016; Human Commonalities, V.A.C. and the State Museum of Vadim Sidur, Moscow, 2016; Endless Circulation, TarraWarra Biennial, Healesville, 2016; Habits and customs of _______ are so different from ours…, Kadist, Paris, 2016; Foot-notes, 3rd Ural Industrial Biennial, Yekaterinburg 2015; Just as Money is the Paper, the Gallery is the Room, Osage Art Foundation, Shanghai, 2015; and Sunny and Hilly, Minerva, Sydney, 2014.

In 2019, Fayen joined the Board of Directors of the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA). Fayen is a lecturer in Communications Design at RMIT University. She is a candidate for a PhD in Curatorial Practice at Monash University. She holds a PhD in Resource Management and Environmental Studies from the Australian National University, a BFA in Painting from the Victorian College of Arts, University of Melbourne, and a BSc (First Class Hons) in Physics from the University of Canterbury, Aotearoa/NZ.

Pippa Dickson

As the Director of Asialink Arts at Asialink, Dr Pippa Dickson is committed to facilitating true partnership and cooperation between Australia and Asia in the arts and creative industry sectors.

Pippa has extensive arts leadership experience both nationally and internationally. In addition to former positions as a Director of the National Association for Visual Artists (NAVA) and Co-Chair of the National Craft Initiative, Pippa founded Design Island for Arts Tasmania and was the founding CEO of the Glenorchy Art & Sculpture Park (GASP). Pippa has raised over $10 million for national and international art commissions and architectural projects, and worked as a project manager and consultant in the private and public sectors for more than 15 years.

Outside Australia, her achievements include International Advisor to the Cheongju Craft Biennale (South Korea) 2017 and 2019, and mentorship at the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (Hong Kong) with former CEO Michael Lynch, AO OBE in 2015. Pippa has led delegations to Korea and India and participated in a number of events throughout Asia including in Japan, China and Singapore.

Pippa holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Western Australia, a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Hons) and a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Tasmania.

Gwen Lee

Gwen Lee is an arts initiator, curator, DECK and SIPF Director based in Singapore. In 2008, Lee established 2902 Gallery, followed by the Singapore International Photography Festival (SIPF) and an independent container art space ‘DECK’, with an all year-round program and residency for photographers.

Her curatorial projects include We Defining Stories at National Museum of Singapore, After Becker at DECK (2014), Flux Reality: Contemporary Photography from China at Art Science Museum Singapore (2014), Daido Moriyama: Prints and Books 1960s-1980s, and Steidl 101 Photobook exhibition with Steidl publishing (2016).

Lee has lectured on professional development for photographers, and is a frequent participant as a competition judge, and portfolio reviewer, in Asia and Europe. She has curated exhibitions for Dali International Photography Exhibition, Lianzhou Fotofestival and most recently Auckland Festival of Photography 2018.

Eriko Noguchi

Eriko Noguchi is an independent curator and the Assistant Curator at Aichi Triennalle (2010) and has conducted research surveys at Chishima Foundation for Creative Osaka on regional revitalisation through the cultural arts, and is involved in the organisation and management of a diverse range of experimental projects (2011-2015).

Eriko has been selected as a member of an observational team of specialists engaged in culture and the arts from around 20 countries, invited by the Institut Français, Paris, for Marseilles/ Provence 2013, the European Capital of Culture; Nuit Blanche Kyoto (2015, 2016); KYOTOGRAPHIE (2016) project management; co-program director of KG+ (2016-2018), reviewer of portfolios for Voices Off, Arles and Guest Curator for Japanese photo book show for Dali International Photography Exhibition.

Selected as an overseas researcher by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan, and with Arles as the research-base, Eriko has undertaken research surveys on the cultural, educational and economic effects that international art festivals can have on the region and its local residents. Eriko organised the screening of art documentary films concerning climate change and workshops collaborating with an international environmental organisation. She recently studied and researched for hospital art.

Miho Odaka

Miho Odaka is an independent curator of photography. Miho moved to the U.K. after graduating from Sophia University’s Department of English Literature. She earned her Master’s degree from Falmouth College of Arts, Institute of Photography. She gained her independence after working as photo editor and working at a commercial gallery in Tokyo. She is currently involved in a variety of projects that connect Japan and the world in the field of photography, including curation, coordinating exhibitions, artist management, editorial projects for photo books and writing.

The highlights of her work include coordinating the Mario Giacomelli Exhibition The Black is Waiting for White (Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, 2013), Photography Now! (IMA Gallery, 2014), Prix Pictet Tokyo Exhibition (2015-), Curator for Tokyo International Photography Festival (Tokyo, 2015), Co-Curator for T3 Photo Festival (Ueno Park,Tokyo, 2017), Prix Pictet Japan Award exhibition (Hillside Gallery, Tokyo, 2018) Family Tree by Yuki Harada and Yuki Tawada (Omotesando Gallery, Tokyo, 2019).

Editorial work includes; Sohei Nishino Water Line-a story of the Po river (DAMIANI, 2019) and Naoki Ishikawa Everest/ K2 (CCC Media House, 2019). She is currently a part time lecturer at NIHON University of Fine Art department, Photography course.

Jim Ramer

Jim Ramer is an artist, curator and educator. His work spans photography, video, sculpture, and installation. His work has been in recent exhibitions at Main Window, NYC; Inchon International Photography Festival, Inchon, South Korea; The Pelham Art Center, NY; Filter Space, Chicago; Pingyao International Photography Festival; Denver Month of Photography, CO; Chiang Mai Museum of Art, Thailand; among others.

Ramer has lectured internationally on photography, most recently at the Net Photography Festival Daegu, South Korea; The Auckland Photo, NZ; and the Singapore International Photo Festival. He has recently curated exhibitions in China, Korea, New Zealand, Australia, India as well as New York City. In 2017 he was named curator of the Lishui Biennial International Photography Festival, Lishui, CN.

He currently serves as the Director of the MFA in Photography program at Parsons School of Design in New York City.

Shubigi Rao

Artist and writer Shubigi Rao works with archaeology, neuroscience, libraries, archival systems, histories and lies, literature and violence, ecologies, and natural history in her films, texts, and artworks. She looks at multiple historical and contemporary crises to plot cascading effects, flashpoints and perspectival shifts.

Her current decade-long project, Pulp: A Short Biography of the Banished Book, is about the history of book destruction. The second volume won the Singapore Literature Prize (creative non-fiction) in 2020, while the first was shortlisted (2018). The first portion of the project, Written in the Margins, won the APB Signature Prize 2018 Juror’s Choice Award.

Rao has also been featured at international biennials and festivals such as the March Meets 2019 as part of the 14th Sharjah Biennial, 4th Kochi Biennale, India (2018); 10th Taipei Biennial, Taipei, Taiwan (2016); 3rd Pune Biennale, Pune, India (2017); Singapour Mon Amour, Paris, France (2015); Digital Arts Festival, Copenhagen, Denmark (2013); and the 2nd Singapore Biennale, Singapore (2008). She is currently the Curator for the upcoming Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2020.

Image Credit: Kathrin Leisch

Bala Starr

Bala Starr is Director of the La Trobe Art Institute at La Trobe University. For six years until late 2019, she was director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore (ICA), steering contemporary art programs that promoted inquiry, experimentation and interrelations between Asian and international art practices. ICA Singapore exhibitions engaged risk, championed diversity and invited different modes of audience participation.

Starr previously served as Senior Curator at the University of Melbourne’s Ian Potter Museum of Art, and held executive positions at the Melbourne International Biennial and two Australian contemporary art spaces.

Throughout her career, she has advocated for independent artists and curators, intergenerational exchange and overlooked objects and practices. She has organised major solo projects with artists such as Jason Lim, Jesse Jones, Boedi Widjaja, Marco Fusinato, Ana Prvački, Philip Brophy, Gigi Scaria and Vivienne Shark LeWitt. Starr was one of seven curators of the 7th Kuandu Biennale (Taipei) in 2018, presenting performance and video work by Singaporean artist Zou Zhao. She regularly develops curatorial workshops and forums and contributes to public programs, symposiums and advisory panels.

Alexander Supartono

Alexander Supartono is a curator and photo historian specializing in photography practice in colonial Southeast Asia. He lectures on photographic theories and histories at the Edinburgh Napier University, UK and is an associate curator at the Noorderlicht Photography in the Netherlands. His curatorial projects often explore the interface of photography and colonial history: From Singapore with Nature (2018), The Postcolonial Photostudio (2012-present); Afterimage: Contemporary Photography in Southeast Asia (2014); History of Boys: MES56 and Beyond (2017). He will convene Jakarta Biennale conference in 2021.

He is a member of Scholarly Advisory Group for a pilot project of PHAROS: The International Consortium of Photo Archives. His publications include “Other Pictures: Vernacular (Hi)stories from the Photo Albums of Dutch Industrialists in Colonial Java (Noorderlicht, 2013); “Afterimage: Is There Such a Thing as Southeast Asian Photography” (Singapore Art Museum, 2014); Dolorosa Sinaga: Body Form Matter: Analysis, Artistic Genealogy and Archive (Jakarta Art Institute, 2020); and “The Post-Colonial Archive: Re-imag(in)ing Southeast Asia” (Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 2020).

His research combines interdisciplinary academic inquiry and curatorial practice with an emphasis on (post)colonial/(post)imperial cultural practices and representations. Presently he works on the topic of “Photographic Modernism in 19th Century South and Southeast Asia” and “Visual Literacy, Networked Images and Religious (In)tolerance”.

Fiona Sweet

A prominent and highly respected arts director and curator, Fiona Sweet is renowned for inspiring and intelligent delivery of uniquely curated festivals and exhibitions. Currently, Fiona is the Creative Director of the Ballarat International Foto Biennale, Australia’s leading contemporary photographic event.

Held every two years, the Biennale is a 60-day festival delivering a dynamic program of two major photographic exhibition streams: a curated Core Program showcasing acclaimed domestic and international artists and Open Program that fosters the development of new artists. Fiona is also the Director at the National Centre For Photography, Australia’s newest and only regional gallery dedicated exclusively to photography.

In 2017, her inaugural year as Creative Director, the Biennale drew an audience of over 26,800, contributing an economic impact of $3.89 million to the local economy with the celebrated American artist David LaChappelle as the headline artist.

Fiona’s directorship of the 2019 Biennale was responsible for more than 37,000 visitors with an injection of $7.8 million into the city’s economy. Her fourth year working with incredible artists and curators, the festival prompted audiences to question, explore and be changed by art. She successfully invited Chinese artist Liu Bolin as the headline artist, exhibiting his Camouflage series – highlighting critical works from the past 15 years of Bolin’s creative output.

As a curator, her interest lies in the interdisciplinary and experimental approaches to the photographic medium. Fiona’s practise often investigates the intersections between the human body and the human psyche and its response to shifting societal perspectives, power dynamics and challenges.

Fiona is an influential and in-demand public speaker, industry judge, photographic portfolio reviewer and assessor in Australia and internationally. The recipient of many prestigious design awards, Fiona was the Director and Founder of Sweet Creative and former Board Director of the Australian Graphic Design Association. Fiona was the recipient of an Ian Potter Foundation Travel Grant in 2018 for her research on international art festival best practice.

Entries for The Fineman New Photography Award are now closed. For all enquiries, please email info@ballaratfoto.org