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Photography Gallery

Finding your place
in the world Asian photomedia


Dates + times

25 February – 10 August 2014
Open 10.00 am – 5.00 pm every day


Photospace (Level 1)




  • General information +61 2 6240 6411
  • Visitors requiring mobility assistance
    +61 2 6240 6411
  • email contact

Previous displays


The current display in the photography gallery is a selection of work by artists from South and Southeast Asia: Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Tibet and India. The department's focus in recent years has been to build up the holdings in this area. Ten years ago there were less than two hundred photographs in the collection from anywhere in Asia, with only about a dozen Asian-born photographers.

The artists included in this display all play a prominent role in the cultural life of their communities – not only as artists but also as gallery owners, curators and mentors – as well as representing those communities on the world stage. They use their art practices to comment on the effect of change in their countries, which have undergone fundamental transformations in the last century. In many cases the transition has been from colonial outpost to postcolonial democracy, while all have been confronted with an ever increasing global homogenisation of culture. 

The past, though complex, is a good place to look when trying to understand and explore where one stands in the present. Using the relatively new mediums of photography and video, these artists turn to their country's traditions as a source and inspiration.

While these artists naturally have individual perspectives and personal concerns that distinguish their work, they also share common preoccupations that reflect their place in the world today. In the majority of the works, examinations of broader societal issues and histories intersect with private concerns around defining identity.

The artists included in the display are FX Harsono, Melati Suryodarmo and Mella Jaarsma (Indonesia), Yee I-Lann (Malaysia), Manit Sriwanichpoom (Thailand) Gonkar Gyatso (Tibet), Dayanita Singh and Pushpamal N. (India).


It is through the lens of imagination and metaphor that these artists approach their practice – making works no less powerful or demanding for their poetic sensibility. Loss, both individual and cultural, is at the core of many of the works. At the same time they are moving testaments to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of change.

(image) Pushpamala N. Sunhere Sapne [Golden Dreams]: A photoromance #2 1998, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, purchased 2006 © Pushpamala N.