PHOTO 2020 Symposium TRUTH, POWER, IMAGE: Photography in the Post-Internet Age

Today, the relationship between what we see and what we believe is more complex than ever. The PHOTO 2020 Symposium on Friday 24 April, 10:00am – 5.30pm at The Capitol RMIT University is co-presented by PHOTO 2020 and RMIT School of Art and brings together artists, curators and theorists to critically discuss the relationship between photography and truth in the post-internet age.

In this ‘post-truth’ time of social media, fake news, artificial intelligence and augmented reality, this international symposium explores how photography is both implicated in, and critical of, shifting notions of truth. We have entered a new stage in world history where collective sentiments guide and misguide politics.

“In a time where the art of discourse and the ability to scrutinise, investigate and question issues is continually being eroded and manipulated, it is essential we continue to come together to discuss ‘what is the truth and how can it be found?’” said PHOTO 2020 Artistic Director Elias Redstone.

“In partnership with RMIT School of Art we have managed to curate a full day of the most relevant and interesting minds and practitioners from the international photography community to investigate and debate the role that photography should, could and does play in the world that we are currently experiencing and what that will look like in the future.”

RMIT convenors Shane Hulbert and Daniel Palmersaid:“Under what circumstances today can photographs be said to tell the truth? As an educational institution teaching photography since 1887, we at RMIT are deeply committed to an ongoing investigation into the role that truth plays in photography. This symposium will offer a remarkable opportunity to debate the current and future ‘truth effects’ of photography.”

Responding to PHOTO 2020’s central theme ‘The Truth’, the full day event will feature some of the photography industry’s most exciting artists and academics across three different panels titled Identity, Witness and Simulation.

Speakers will include American photographer Sam Contis – currently exhibiting in exhibitions at MoMA in New York and the Barbican Art Gallery in London; Iranian, Melbourne-based artist Hoda Afshar – recipient of the William and Winifred Bowness Photography Prize for her portrait of Behrouz Boochani (part of a collaborative project between Afshar and the men held on Manus Island by the Australian government); and award-winning Belgian artist Max Pinckers (work pictured above), who treats documentary as a hybrid practice involving not just images, but objects, performance, texts, found footage and sculptural interventions that investigate the complex nature of perception. Also part of the panels will be Paolo Balla, a Wemba-Wemba and Gunditjmara woman of Italian and Chinese heritage whose work examines the very definitions of what it is to be Aboriginal in an urban setting.

Spanish artist Cristina de Middel, visiting Melbourne as part of Magnum Live Lab, will present a session responding to the festival’s theme of truth though her blend of documentary and conceptual photographic practices. Barbican Art Gallery Curator Alona Pardo will also present a session which investigates TRUTH, POWER, IMAGE through the lens of masculinity, with particular reference to the critically acclaimed Masculinities: Liberation through Photography currently on display at the Barbican, London.

The Symposium runs 10am-5.30pm at The Capitol. General admission is $20 and students can book for free. A limited number of VIP lunch tickets are available for those that wish to attend an exclusive networking lunch with Symposium guests.

PHOTO 2020 International Festival of Photography is a new major photographic event coming to Melbourne and 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 workshops, education programs and awards. The inaugural festival, PHOTO 2020, runs from Thursday 23 April to Sunday 10 May 2020 and is being delivered in collaboration with over 40 cultural institutions, museums, galleries and universities.

To find out more see

Image: Max Pinckers, Margins of Excess

PHOTO 2020 Symposium
Friday 24 April, Doors at 9.30am, Symposium 10.00am – 5.30pm 
The Capitol 
113 Swanston St, Melbourne 
Tickets: $20+BF (general admission), free for students (student card required). VIP Lunch*: $30+BF 
*Please note a general admission or student ticket must be booked in addition to a lunch ticket if you wish to attend the VIP Lunch. 
Bookings essential:

RMIT University is ranked number 1 in Australia and 12 in the world for Art and Design (2018 QS Rankings) placing the School of Art in the top echelon of the world’s art and photographic educational institutions. The School of Art is known for its diverse and internationally-renowned creative programs led by accomplished artists and photographers delivering excellence in pedagogy, research and innovation.