Queer PHOTO: ground-breaking LGBTQIA+ showcase taking over Melbourne’s West 

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27 January 2024 – 24 March 2024

Presented by Midsumma and PHOTO 2024, in partnership with Creative Victoria’s Go West program, Queer PHOTO is a first-of-its-kind collaboration – comprising artist commissions of large-scale outdoor artworks, gallery exhibitions and an interactive public performance program by local and international artists taking place in Footscray, Newport and Werribee from 27 January – 24 March 2024, across both Midsumma Festival and PHOTO 2024 International Festival of Photography.

Featuring 17 artists, 14 exhibitions, 30 interactive events and 7 locations, Queer PHOTO is a program transforming iconic venues and the streets of the West into a gallery of accessible and highly visible visual artworks from LGBTQIA+ artists.

Midsumma CEO Karen Bryant said: “We at Midsumma are very excited to have initiated this exciting new project, our first ever Queer PHOTO Festival program, taking over Melbourne’s West with bold public art. We are thrilled to be partnering with PHOTO 2024 and Trocadero Projects to bring this to life with an exciting programming line-up that represents the very best in queer photography, whilst ensuring an accessible program with something for everyone”.

PHOTO Australia Founder / Artistic Director Elias Redstone said: “PHOTO Australia is proud to partner with Midsumma Festival to present Melbourne’s first festival of queer photography, celebrating some of the most important established and emerging queer voices from Australia and around the world. Queer PHOTO is part of the broader PHOTO 2024 festival that features 100 exhibitions across Melbourne and Victoria that respond to the theme The Future Is Shaped by Those Who Can See It, inviting artists to respond to what is happening in the world and suggest the possible and parallel futures that lie ahead.”

PHOTO 2024 Curator Brendan McCleary said: “Taking place across galleries, parks, and an historic mansion in Melbourne’s west, Queer PHOTO celebrates 17 LGBTQIA+ artists, each in their own way using queer thinking to consider potential scenarios that lie ahead, and how current actions and activisms are creating future realities – from advances in technology, through to responding to climate crisis, and connecting with Indigenous ways of thinking. There is a beautiful community found within these works, highlighting the incredible ways in which queer voices are shaping a better tomorrow.”

Queer PHOTO exhibitions include:

Black & Blur (World premiere) by Lilah Benetti (Australia) is a new commission, featuring portraits of migrant and Indigenous Black people. Lilah Benetti’s work recognises that Blackness is a mosaic of cultural, ethnic, and global Indigenous backgrounds, shaped and coloured by the unique contexts from which we emerge. Benetti is a recipient of the Wyndham Art Prize.

The Zizi Show (Australian premiere) by Jake Elwes (United Kingdom) explores the intersection of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and drag performance. Drag challenges gender and explores otherness, while AI is often mystified as a concept and tool and is complicit in reproducing social bias. The project explores what AI can teach us about drag, and what drag can teach us about AI. Currently showing at V&A in London, Elwes will be visiting for the festival.

Like A River (Australian premiere) by Daniel Jack Lyons (United States) explores how deep Indigenous traditions and modern identity politics meet in a celebratory, safe space, deep in is a series of portrait photographs that visualise and empower the trans and queer communities living in the Amazon. Made in collaboration with Casa do Rio, a community-based organisation supporting the cultural lives of teenagers and young people living in the Amazon Rainforest.

Clifford Prince King (United States) is an African American photographer who documents intimate relationships in everyday settings, celebrating queer black joy. Orange Grove (Australian premiere) presents the soft power of the everyday in the works presenting a hope for a future fulfilled with compassion and care. Prince King’s documentary, Kiss of Life, will also be screening. The film is about two black men living with HIV and reflect throughout on their experiences living with the virus. Prince King has exhibited extensively, his work has been presented at the 2019 Whitney Biennial, Friese LA, LACMA, MASS MOCA, and been profiled in the New Yorker, the Guardian and Artforum.

Marungka Tjalatjunu/Dipped in Black (World premiere) is a collaborative film and photographic project made by filmmaker Matthew Thorne (Australia) and Yankunytjatjara artist/dancer, Derik Lynch (Australia). Lynch escapes the oppressive white city life of Adelaide, taking a road trip back to Country (Aptula), his remote Anangu community where he seeks spiritual healing and performs on sacred Inma ground. The film has won multiple awards, including Silver Bear Jury Prize at Berlinale, Germany (2023), and Best Short Documentary, MIFF (2023).

Exquisite Corpse (World premiere) by artist Salote Tawale (Australia/Fiji) features a series of outdoor humanesque sculptures climbing out of the Maribyrnong River. Reflecting on her experiences as a person from two different colonies, the exhibition takes its name from the collaborative drawing game popularised by surrealist artists, who in turn, appropriated Oceanic objects and ideas.

Leilani Fuimaono (Samoa/Australia) is an emerging multidisciplinary artist based in Naarm working in photography, film and sculpture. So’otaga (Connection) (World premiere) is made in collaboration with Pasifika community based in the West. Fuimaono’s work asks, “What does it mean to be both Indigenous and a settler? How are we processing the grief of the loss of much of ancestral homes? How do we preserve our cultures and memories of home and country?”

SURFACING (World premiere) is a group exhibition at artist run space Trocadero Projects, featuring Estelle Yoon,  Luce Nguyễn Hunt, Rômy Pacquing McCoy and Dorcas Tang 邓佳颖, with a strong focus on Asian diaspora voices.

In TBWWWTB (To Be What We Want To Be) (World premiere), artist Vic Bakin (Kyiv, Ukraine) uses photography to celebrate the queer community around him. After years and years of soviet forbiddance and suppression, and against the current conflict they fight against, the Ukrainian queer scene has sprouted from the underground, persevering in the face of true adversity. Bakin celebrates the unique voice of this community, who he sees as strong and beautiful, a new generation changing his country for the better. TBWWWTB (To Be What We Want To Be) is the world premiere at The Substation Billboards, overlooking the train line.

Alteration (Australian premiere) is the culmination of ten years of archival practice, and two years of co-design, co-curation, research and production created by FAFSWAG arts collective, an Aotearoa based Queer Polynesian arts collective. Founded in 2013, FAFSWAG is a Queer Indigenous arts collective committed to social change through arts and innovation and have recently shown at Documenta fifteen and been exhibited extensively in NZ, and globally at Centre Pompidou, Paris, and in Australia at the 22nd Biennale of Sydney.

Queer Wiradjuri woman Karla Dickens (Australia) brings a black humour to her interrogation of subjects such as race, gender and injustice, revealing her often raw pain along the way. To See or Not to See, presented in partnership with Wyndham Culture, is a series of studio self-portraits wearing hoods with varying designs act as a reminder of the masking and oppression of recent Aboriginal experience.

Asafe Ghalib’s (Brazil) Queer Immigrants (Australian premiere) is an act of both confrontation and pride. Coming from a religious family and background, Ghalib’s work embraces rebellion to reclaim their identity and history. Ghalib’s focus is to photograph LGBTQIA+ individuals, in a glamorous celebration allowing both photographer and subjects personality to emerge in full bloom. Ghalib was one of the winners of 2021 “Ones to Watch” during Photo London Fair in Somerset House and the Story cover for British Journal of Photography.

The New Pre-Raphaelites (Australian premiere) by Sunil Gupta (India/Canada) is a series of 10 works that portrays individuals and families affected by Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalised homosexuality. This law, instituted by the British in 1861 and not overturned until 2018, led to the arbitrary arrest and exploitation of LGBTQ+ Indians.

Affirm (World premiere) by Peter Waples-Crowe (Australia) is largely based on personal experiences as influenced by his adoption and reconnection with his Ngarigo heritage and over 25 years’ experience as a community health worker within Aboriginal and LGBTQIA2+ health. Working across mediums, Waples-Crowe’s work is a deep commentary on the world as a contested site for his multiple identities.

Events Program:
Queer PHOTO features over 30 events, from artist talks, film screenings, workshops and tours to be held across every weekend between 27 January and 24 March at multiple venues within the west, featuring a diverse range of queer photographers to bring the community together, learn new skills and experience queer art. On Sunday 4 February the Rainbow Book Bus hosted by 2Joocee will take passengers to every venue at Queer PHOTO.

Footscray Community Arts

  • Black & Blur by Lilah Benetti
  • The Zizi Show by Jake Elwes
  • Like A River by Daniel Jack Lyons
  • Orange Grove by Clifford Prince King
  • Marungka Tjalatjunu (Dipped in Black) by Matthew Thorne and Derik Lynch
  • Exquisite Corpse by Salote Tawale

The Outside Gallery, Footscray

  • So’otaga (Connection) by Leilani Fuimaono

Trocadero Art Space, Footscray


Substation, Newport

  • TBWWWTB (To Be What We Want To Be) by Vic Bakin
  • Alteration by FAFSWAG

Wyndham Art Gallery, Werribee

  • The New Pre-Raphaelites by Sunil Gupta

Werribee Train Station

Werribee Park Mansion

  • To See or Not to See by Karla Dickens
  • Queer Immigrants by Asafe Ghalib

Working Group:
Karen Bryant and Brendan Cooney (Midsumma Festival), Andrée Ruggeri (Trocadero), Elias Redstone and Brendan McCleary (PHOTO Australia).
Curator (outdoor art): Brendan McCleary, PHOTO Australia
Public Program Producer: delsi Moleta, Midsumma


Photo Credit: Derik Lynch & Matthew Thorne. Courtesy of the artists.
For images, please go to the Queer Photo Media Centre

Midsumma Festival is Victoria’s premier queer cultural festival, for and by communities who live with shared experiences around diverse gender and sexuality (DGS or LGBTQIA+). Midsumma is a champion of queer cultures, conversations and events. Although the primary festival is held in summer each year, Midsumma works nationally year-round to provide artists, social changers and culture-makers with support and tools to create, present and promote their work.

PHOTO Australia was founded in 2018 to launch a major new photography biennale in Melbourne and sites across regional Victoria. Taking place every two years, the festival addresses the major issues of our time in a program of free exhibitions, outdoor displays and artist commissions across the city, as well as awards, talks, workshops, tours and experiences. Presenting ideas critical to contemporary photographic discourse, PHOTO encourages the public to engage with and think about photography and visual culture in new and inspiring ways.

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