Auckland Festival of Photography, 28th May to 14th June

2 years ago by

The 2020 Auckland Festival of Photography (now in its 17th year) is underway in Tāmaki Makaurau. This city-wide contemporary art and cultural event takes place within Auckland’s major galleries, project spaces, non-gallery venues and public sites during June each year. The programme includes a mix of emerging and established artists and comprises existing works and the creation of new work. The annual Festival is produced by the Auckland Festival of Photography Trust.

Full details about what’s on offer can be found at:

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Feature image: Raymond Sagapolutele; Tapu

Design Assembly’s highlights for this year’s festival are:

Unseen – Werner Bischof

Auckland Festival of Photography is excited to present an exclusive outdoor waterfront exhibition of work by Werner Bischof, Switzerland.

Werner started his career in his studio in Zurich, Switzerland, where he perfected his artistic photography in “painting with light and shadow”. In 1945 he creates maybe the most significant photographic documentation of Europe in the aftermath of WWII. 1949 he joins Magnum Photos and travels two years in Asia: India, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Indochina he continues his humanistic photography, combining form and content.

His untimely death in a car accident in Peru at age 38 was the catalyst to maintain his photography in an archive for future generations.

USA is a series of work that brings early 1950s America vividly to life, yet Bischof’s tragic death at 38 meant the photographs were never printed during his lifetime. This is the first time they are being shown to the public in New Zealand.

Bischof was the first non-founding member to be welcomed into the then-fledgling Magnum collective, in 1949 joining Robert Capa, David  Seymour, Henri Cartier-Bresson and George Rodger. He had already become recognised for his pioneering use of colour photography, and was one of the first documentary photographers to take the format seriously. At the time of joining Magnum, most of Bischof’s contemporaries still predominantly worked in monochrome, a trend that continued well into the 1960s.

The photographs serve as a fleeting snapshot of a unique point in history: Bischof arrived in post-war United States from Switzerland in 1953, and stayed there for just one year, chronicling a booming and optimistic America through the eyes of an outsider. The 25 photographs that make up the series comprise few suggestions of interaction, they are instead stolen moments through shop windows and cars that blur past, evoking anonymity, and a contemplative look at everyday life in America during a period of immense change. (some text courtesy of the British Journal of Photography).

Thanks to Pro Helvetia – Swiss Arts Council, Panuku Development, Lion Foundation and Werner Bischof Estate.

Queens Wharf Fence outdoor exhibition 24 hrs/7 days – 89 Quay St, City

Unseen – Below the Surface

Two Auckland Fine Art photographers Judy Stokes and Gail Stent explore the concept of what lies hidden beneath the fibres of life.

The range of work presented will include Multiple In-Camera exposure work, Collaborative works by this creative duo as well as recent works by both artists.


Dramatic and extraordinary landscapes from around the world by three-times Auckland Photographer of the Year, Ilan Wittenberg. In this series of wide-format prints, Wittenberg explores the timeless nature of unique locations using sepia tone, which emulates analogue lithographic techniques.

Wittenberg’s distinct and compelling monochromatic style creates strong images which inspire the imagination and provoke conscious consideration. Through this portfolio of striking photographs, Wittenberg presents his unique perspective of the world using a clear narrative style. These images of beautiful scenery are designed to evoke a desire to visit foreign places and experience their unique atmosphere.

Annual Commission 2020 Artists Qiane Matata-Sipu, Saynab Muse and Raymond Sagapolutele

Each year, an Auckland-based artist is commissioned to create a new body of work for exhibition during the Festival. The anniversary edition of the Annual Commission in 2020 features three Auckland-based artists.

Qiane Matata-Sipu (Te Wai-o-hua, Waikato-Tainui) is a South Auckland-based journalist, photographer and social activist. She has been documenting her papakāinga, Ihumātao for the past twelve years. She was part of the ‘Cultural Memory’ symposium at the 2014 Festival, was shortlisted in 2015 for that year’s Annual Commission and was also exhibited by the Festival at Pingyao Photo Festival, China. Her six image social documentary series about the campaign to protect land next to the Ōtuataua Stonefields Historic Reserve in Māngere from development as a Special Housing Area won her a 2018 NZ Geographic Photographer of the Year Photo Story award.

As part of the Annual Commission 10th year anniversary Saynab Muse provides a unique perspective to the cultural landscape of photography, with her Muslim heritage, love of photography and talent at it as a means to express in a hearing world. Saynab graduated with a Bachelor of Creative Enterprise at Unitec.

“My project is about being a feminist and the Muslim religion, detailing my identity that turned into a project to share with others. I want to showcase my perspective of what it’s about, so others can understand about how my religion informs ideas such as diversity and feminism. I grew up wearing a Hijab (head scarf), and that shows the part of me as a Deaf Muslim women”.

Raymond Sagapolutele is an Aotearoa-born Sāmoan artist with family ties to the villages of Fatuvalu in Savai’i and Saluafata in Upolu, Samoa. Sagapolutele picked up the camera in 2003 and began a self-taught photography journey that would see him work with editorial publications Back to Basics and Rip It Up as a staff photographer as well as submissions to the NZ Herald and Metro Magazine.

Sagapolutele completed his Masters in Visual Arts passing with first-class honours and received the Deans Award for Excellence in Postgraduate study from AUT. Sagapolutele was also showcased in the 2019 Wallace Arts Award and a finalist in the 2019 Glaister Ennor Graduate Art Awards.


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