Presenting four Australian artists in Russia


Four Australian photomedia artists will present their work at the celebrated Russian festival, PhotoVisa. This year the festival’s theme is ‘Climate Change’ and the organisers have encouraged a broad reading of the concept. Curated by Alasdair Foster, the Australian exhibition explores ideas that range across the personal, social, cultural and environmental.

The artists, Hoda Afshar, Ray Cook, Simon Harsent and Owen Leong, each approach the theme through visual allegory to create fables that address variously hybridity, metamorphosis, dissolution and adaptation.

PV13-Afshar & Cook 01 (640)

Hoda Afshar questions the notion of being ‘Australian’ and the way in which immigrant cultures are expected to ‘fit in’; creating a hybrid identity that is not always comfortable or consistent. She does this by drawing on the imagery of ancient Persian painting to depict the classic tropes of the ‘Aussie’ way of life.

Ray Cook has, throughout his oeuvre, explored the changing lot of a minority at odds with the norms of the majority. It is a story of resistance and survival through adaptation. When ridiculed become a clown; when shunned from the light, wear shadows with style; turn kitsch into beauty and secrecy into the bond of brotherhood.

PV13-Harsent & Leong 01 (640)

Simon Harsent, in his series ‘Melt’, presents portraits of icebergs as they travel Greenland’s Ilulissat Icefjord. The ecological story is, of course, that more sections are breaking away from the arctic ice cap and melting faster due to global warming. But the chronicle of the iceberg is, for the artist, also a metaphorical reflection upon his own mortality.

Owen Leong explores attitudes to East-Asian people in Australia through the visual metaphor of the Bogong moth, which, on occasion, migrates south to Australia in large swarms. While the overt narrative critiques notions of immigration as infestation, the lyrical metamorphosis he effects sets the prejudice and the reality of human difference in subtle contradistinction.

‘FABLES OF CHANGE’ will be presented at the Krasnodar Institute of Contemporary Art (KISI) in October and November 2013.


PhotoVisa13 - header

As part of the lead up to PhotoVisa in Krasnodar this October, the organisers are introducing various key participants. Recently it was my turn. The interview can be seen here.


More information on PhotoVisa here…
More information on Hoda Afshar here…
More information on Ray Cook here…
More information on Owen Leong here…
An interview between Alasdair Foster and Simon Harsent featured in the August issue of PhotoWorld, China.


upper left: © Hoda Afshar ‘Australian as a meat pie’ 2010 (detail)
upper right: © Ray Cook ‘Ben’
lower let: © Simon Harsent ‘Melt #29’ 2008 (detail)
lower right: © Owen Leong ‘Michele’ 2010


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  • The majority of the texts on this site are by Alasdair Foster and represent his opinions. However, in order to facilitate a useful diversity of views, some texts have been invited from artists and colleagues around the world, while others appear as independent comments. These opinions and comments are not necessarily those of Alasdair Foster or Cultural Development Consulting (CDC). All data and information on this site is provided on an as-is basis. While every effort is made to be as thorough as possible, neither Alasdair Foster nor CDC make representations as to accuracy, completeness, currency, suitability or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions or delays in this information or any losses, injuries or damages arising from its display or use.
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