Melbourne’s beloved Royal Botanic Gardens are transforming into an exhibition space for the inaugural PHOTO 2021 International Festival of Photography. As both the subject matter and the setting for the work, there’s no denying the (horti)cultural significance of the gardens.
The exhibition has been curated by Isobel Parker Philip, the Senior Curator of Contemporary Australian Art at the Art Gallery of New South Wales—we won’t dwell on the fact that a NSW art curator has hopped over to the south side of the border (lowkey flex). Rivalries aside, the exhibition will focus on the festival’s 2021 theme of ‘Truth’ and will take the form of an outdoor trail of photographic installations.
The six artists featured in the exhibition—James Nguyen, Luke Parker, Steven Rhall, Yvonne Todd, Grace Wood and Emmaline Zanelli—have created work that challenges the neutrality of the gardens and the purpose of the gardens in a political landscape. The artworks cover all kinds of topics from colonisation of space, and refugee and asylum seeker incarceration, to broader themes of artifice, power and control.
Whether you want to take a deep dive into the meaning of the artworks or not, it’s an opportunity to get to know the gardens in a new way, with artworks that amplify and question their surroundings. Or, you know, you could just take a stroll and enjoy the serenity. We won’t judge.
The exhibition will be on show from Thursday 18 February to Sunday 7 March 2021 and as always, entry is completely free.
Once you’ve done your lap of the gardens, cool off at this pop-up bar along The Tan.
Image credit: supplied