Returning to Sydney on May to celebrate its 10th anniversary, Head On Photo Festival, Australia's largest photography event, is presenting numerous curated exhibitions featuring contemporary fine art photography, portraiture and photojournalism. In the headline of this year’s edition, there are ten international award-winning photographers setting it to be their most exciting and promising program so far.
Head On Photo Festival is a bridge between Australian and international photographic markets. Artists coming from Japan, Israel, Canada, Switzerland, Poland, Germany, the United States, South Korea and Australia shape the brilliant exhibitions that Head On is presenting, which feature contemporary fine art photography, photojournalism and portraiture. On the occasion of their anniversary celebration, the festival also includes workshops, conversations, artist and curators talks, and photowalks apart from the over one hundred exhibitions all around Sydney.

“Head On prides itself in being a platform that presents world-class exhibitions that place the work of internationally recognised artists alongside those of emerging and established Australian talent. 2019 is set to be our most exciting year yet as we celebrate our 10th anniversary with a robust program that brings some the world’s leading photographic artists to audiences across Sydney”, Head On Festival Director Moshe Rosenzveig OAM stated.

Head On Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the work of photographers at all stages of their career, encouraging excellence and innovation, and raising awareness of important issues through photography. They conduct the Head On Festival but also de Head On Awards, judged by internationally renowned photographers, picture editors and curators. The Awards represent a global selection of the best work from emerging and established photographers across four categories including portrait, landscape and mobile, which are open internationally to professional and amateur photographers from classical and contemporary styles.

Find below our unmissable top ten exhibitions that will be on view from Saturday, May 4, to Sunday, May 19, across Festival Hub at Paddington Town Hall, Delmar Gallery, Ashfield, Lyons Gallery, Paddington and Watt Space Gallery, Newcastle.

American Boys by Soraya Zaman
The Australian fashion photographer, currently living in New York City, introduces us to a bold and intuitive representation of the United States’ trans-masculine communities. The photographs shine a light on what it means to be trans in America today through a series of sincere and intimate portraits of trans men at distinct stages of their transition. American Boys demonstrates a raw and honest body of work providing viewers with a glimpse into each person’s life.
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Sapeurs Portraits Series by Tariq Zaidi

Considered ‘Photographer of the Year’ in 2018, Tariq Zaidi documents the La Sape fashion subculture in cities of Kinshasa, DRC and Brazzaville in Republic of the Congo, where everyday citizens transform themselves into debonair dandies and sashay through the streets where they are treated like rock stars as they bring exuberant joy to their communities and defy their circumstances. Over the decades, it has functioned as a form of colonial resistance, social activism and peaceful protest. It is growing followers across central Africa through its exuberance and freedom of expression.

Kärlek by Jörgen Axelvall

The Tokyo-based Swedish photographer Axelvall presents a photo series entitled Kärlek, an old Swedish word meaning ‘love’. Jörgen states that his projects are connected by a common approach; “something fascinates me to the point where it becomes an obsession. Kärlek is no different, yet another obsession, but these images are done through play, a joyful quest to learn to love more.” The camera allows him to capture the beauty he sees in a face, body or movement, to have a conversation without words. “I photograph flowers the same way I shoot all living things; by being with them, never arranging, just looking and capturing whatever is projected at that very moment. Kärlek is about photographing what I love; the essence of my photography”, says Jörgen Axelvall. A seductive collection of images that will be on view at the Festival Hub, Paddington Town Hall.
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Exodus: Rohingya Refugee Crisis Bangladesh by David Dare Parker

Walkley Award-winning photojournalist and Nikon Ambassador David Dare Parker explores in this photo series the stories of refugees crossing the Myanmar border in 2017. “I went to Cox's Bazaar District, Bangladesh, in November-December 2017 as a freelance photojournalist. (…) Most of the survivors we met had told their stories before, to other media, and it was difficult to ask them to relive their horror again” recalls the photographer.
“It was hard to imagine how such hatred could be directed towards the people sitting in front of us. These were simple villagers, not insurgents. Mothers, fathers, grandparents, husbands, wives and children: all of the survivors of the unimaginable. The women had been through the worst of it. Their testimony of having their children killed in front of them. Gang rape. Throats cut, hacked with machetes – all to be left for dead. But every person we met that had a story to tell, wanted to tell it. Their stories were consistent. They want the world to know what they have been through” he continues. Parker will be also part of two artist talks during the festival, both on Saturday 4th.
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Rock ’n’ Roll Heroes by Masayoshi Sukita

In the portrait category, we find an iconic mini-retrospective of the work of Japanese photographer Masayoshi Sukita. In 1972, David Bowie met the Japanese master who loved rock ‘n’ roll and Marlon Brando. They would later work together for forty years including the iconic cover of Bowie’s Heroes album or the Watch That Man photo series wearing the emblematic costume by Kansai Yamamoto. The exhibition features portraits of rock ’n’ roll heroes like David Bowie, Iggy Pop and more. On view at the Festival Hub, Paddington Town Hall.
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Für Mich / A Way Of Reconciliation by Sina Niemeyer

Under the category of portrait and fine-art photography, there is this deeply moving autobiographic story of childhood sexual abuse by the German photojournalist Sina Niemeyer. Serving as a self-reflection and highlighting sexual abuse as an all-encompassing cultural issue, this series evokes the multitude of ways in which sexual abuse can negatively impact a person's well-being. “Through my creative practice, it is my ambition to provide support for other survivors of sexual abuse and encourage a space of self-reflection and solace”, says the artist.
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Min Turab by Roger Grasas

Barcelona-born photographer Roger Grasas presents Min Turab, which is an Arabic expression that translates to ‘from under the earth’. With his series, he meticulously documented the variety of transformations that are underway in the Gulf region, where many landscapes have been negatively impacted by revenue streams generated by the natural resources and mass tourism. “My photographs describe the shift from a traditional and austere civilization to a postmodern culture that is heavily influenced by capitalism and consumerism”, states the photographer. On view at the Paddington Reservoir Gardens.
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Älskling: A Self-portrait Through The Eyes Of My Lovers by Jenny Rova

Swedish photographer Jenny Rova presents a series of portraits that shape a self-portrait made by her previous romantic partners. The display contains fifty-five photographs created by nine different authors and are presented in chronological order. “I asked my ex-boyfriends and lovers to provide me with every photograph they took of me during our relationship. The pictures I received were created over twenty-five years. The first photo was created when I was nineteen, the last one was made this year after turning forty-five”, explains Rova. Älskling’s ambition is to underline the unique ways in which people perceive one another when they are in love.
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Juno Gemes - The Quiet Activist: Survey Exhibition 1979-2019

Curated by Rhonda Davis, this survey exhibition is drawn from Juno Gemes’ extensive archive of photography, film, national and international publications and artists books. Juno Gemes is one of Australia's most celebrated contemporary photographers. In words and images, she has spent forty years documenting the changing social landscape of Australia. This exhibition presents a rare opportunity to view her early experimental works in film and master prints contained within the celebrated publication The Language of Oysters, 1997, on view for the first time, offering a broader view of Gemes’ social justice commitments. Juno will be also part of the In Conversation Panel in the Survey exhibition on Thursday 23rd. The display is located at the Macquarie University Art Gallery. 

Not Beautiful But Beautiful by Giljung Yoon

The South Korean photographer engaged with individuals within the disabled community for fifteen years and began documenting their daily lives. “Through this experience, I realised that what they desired was not unilateral assistance, but to communicate with individuals outside of the disabled community” he states. As a way to empower and highlight disabled people’s desires for physical intimacy and affection like everyone else, he started to create nude portraits capturing their facial expressions and gestures. On view at the Festival Hub, Paddington Town Hall.
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