The City of Melbourne’s Lord Mayor Sally Capp today annouced details of PHOTO, a major new photohgraphy festival for Melbourne and Regional Victoria, which will take place every two years from 2020. Comprising free exhibitions and outdoor displays, PHOTO will present commissions by global photographic talent, as well as talks, film screenings, masterclasses, and awards.

Melbourne – which the festival’s artistic director Elias Redstone describes as ‘Australia’s photography capital’ – has yet to see a photo festival of this scope or creative intensity, despite its reputation as a city of artistic invention (often touted as Sydney’s ‘cooler’ cousin). Joining the likes of France’s Rencontres d’Arles, Unseen Amsterdam, and Photo London, PHOTO 2020 has all the ingredients to become world-leading.

Led by Redstone (alongside fellow board members Naomi Milgrom AO, Bill Bowness and chair Mark Henry), PHOTO 2020 will be delivered in collaboration with 25 renowned cultural organisations, including Monash Gallery of Art and the National Gallery of Victoria. A diversity of satellite locations, from streets and laneways to the city’s Royal Botanic Gardens, aim to stretch engagement beyond the sometimes stiff walls of the art world and into the creative community more broadly. This aligns with the long term ambitions of the festival, ‘to bring photography to the streets of the city and invite audiences to consider the role photography plays in our lives and its power to change the way we see the world’.

Narrowing this far-reaching objective, each biennial will revolve loosely around a chosen theme, with the inaugural iteration centred on truth in the post-internet age. ‘As new phenomena such as artificial intelligence, social media and fake news are shifting our sense of reality, PHOTO 2020 will present a timely investigation into this critical relationship,’ Redstone explains. §