Disquietude: landscape and the Australian imagination

Saturday July 15 – Dress Circle, Main Corner Complex
Gold Coin entry

Many Australians have an edgy relationship to the land, with two-thirds of the population living in the seven largest cities, all situated by the sea. The continental centre is vast and harsh. It is perhaps because of this disquietude that, while Australia has some of the most dramatic scenery on the planet, landscape is rarely the subject of art photography. At least not directly…

This presentation begins by looking at the few successful contemporary Australian art photographers of the natural landscape before moving into the bustling cities to experience an urban splendour and suburban domesticity that prove nonetheless to be tinged with unease.

Against this background of a troubling reality, the presentation will go on to explore a growing interest among art photographers in annexing landscape to the realm of fantasy and creating whole new worlds of the imagination. The presentation will close by considering ‘the most popular landscape photograph in Australia’ … with revealing results.


Dr Alasdair Foster is a writer, researcher and award-winning curator initiating intercultural photography and visual art projects around the world, especially in Asia and the Pacific Rim. He is Adjunct Professor in the School of Art of RMIT University, Melbourne and an associate member of the university’s Centre for Art, Society and Transformation. Dr Foster has 20 years’ experience heading national arts institutions and over 35 years of working in the public cultural sector. He was the founding director of Fotofeis festival, Europe’s largest photo event of the nineties (1991–1997) and director of the Australian Centre for Photography (1998–2011).


“It was hugely refreshing to find in Alasdair Foster a person who could cut through the fog of rhetoric, jargon and posturing that is so abundant in the art world. His clarity is uplifting.”
Shahidul Alam, Founder, Pathshala South Asian Media Academy; Director of Chobi Mela, festival of photography, Bangladesh

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