Atong Atem | Portals
7 – 29 February 2020
Atong Atem, Ego 1, 2019, Ilford smooth pearl print, Image courtesy of the artist and MARS Gallery
Unique edition: 100 x 150 cm
Editioned multiples: 60 x 90 cm
Atong Atem is an Ethiopian born, South Sudanese artist and writer living in Narrm/ Melbourne.
This new body of work explores the inherent intimacy of portraiture and photography as well as the role photographers take as story tellers. Atem interrogates photography as a framework for looking at the world and positioning people in it. She takes framing into a fantastical direction with the small portals over the subjects’ faces, inviting the viewer to look at them through a surreal and constructed lens.
Atem references the works of photographers Malick Sidibe, Philip Kwame Apagya and Seydou Keita to create a visual representation of a relationship to culture. She works primarily with photography and video to explore migrant narratives and postcolonial practices in the African diaspora, the relationship between public and private spaces and the exploration of home and identity through portraiture.
Atem has exhibited her work across Australia, including MUMA Monash, Gertrude Contemporary, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art and Internationally at Red Hook Labs in New York, Vogue Fashion Fair in Milan and Unseen Amsterdam art fair.
Atem was the recipient of the inaugural National Gallery of Victoria and MECCA M-Power scholarship in 2017 as well as the Brisbane Powerhouse Melt Portrait Prize in 2016. Atem will be exhibitng a major body of work at the Immigration Museum, Melbourne as part of the inaugural Photo 2020.