16th – 20th November


Who: Atong Atem

What: Aotearoa Art Fair

Where: The Cloud, Auckland Waterfront, 89 Quay Street, Auckland

When: 16th – 20th November 2022 
Artist Talk: Thursday 17th November, 3.30pm at the MARS stand C10



MARS Gallery is pleased to debut at the 2022 Aotearoa Art Fair in Aotearoa/New Zealand with a solo presentation by emerging artist Atong Atem. The annual Aotearoa Art Fair is the nations premier showcase for contemporary art, with galleries from around the country and overseas showing works from an eclectic mix of visual artists, including photographers and videographers.


Consisting of self-portraits from Atong Atem’s most recent body of work Surat in addition to photographs from across key bodies of work from the artist’s oeuvre, the artworks reflect her ongoing exploration into identity, migrant narratives and post-colonial practices in the African diaspora.


MARS Gallery Director, Andy Dinan, who will be travelling to New Zealand in November with Atem describes it as an “exciting opportunity to showcase one of Australia’s most compelling emerging artists who encapsulates the diversity of the Australian voice” and describes the fair as a “great platform for artists, galleries, and collectors to foster networks amongst the community and form future connections”.


Atong Atem is an Ethiopian born, South Sudanese artist and writer living in Naarm/Melbourne. In March 2022, Atem was announced the inaugural recipient of the La Prairie Art Award 2022, an acquisitive award presented by the Art Gallery of NSW and La Prairie. More recently, Atem attended Art Basel for an international artist residency provided by the Award and exhibited at Photo Basel 2022, making Atong Atem the first Australian artist to show at the fair. 


Atem has exhibited her works across Australia, including MUMA Monash, Gertrude Contemporary, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art and is represented in the collections of the National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Artbank, Bendigo Gallery, Benalla Gallery, Shepparton Art Museum, State Library Victoria and the Murdoch Institute. Her works are held in private collections both nationally and internationally.


About Surat:


Commissioned by Photo Australia for PHOTO 2022 International Festival of Photography, Surat is the first photobook by South Sudanese / Australian artist Atong Atem.

Surat (which translates from Sudanese Arabic as ‘snapshots’) is a homage to family photos and the characters within them. Working on the series throughout 2021, Atem revisited her family photo albums, which span decades and continents, restaging and reimagining the scenes and players they depict. The resulting book is a series of performances as self portraits, documenting the act of photographing and being photographed, framing and being framed. It is a performative depiction of photography, utilising the repetition of dressing, sitting, posing, changing, testing, adjusting and capturing that is so often implicit in the medium.

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