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D-Photo’s Picks: Auckland Festival of Photography 2019

Aotearoa’s largest photography festival is set to kick off its 16th year at the end of May. The Auckland Festival of Photography presents some of New Zealand’s top photographers and internationally renowned photographers, plus exhibitions with a more local focus in galleries and public spaces scattered throughout the city. Check out D-Photo’s picks for some unmissable exhibitions.

19 May 2019

Aotearoa’s largest photography festival is set to kick off its 16th year at the end of May. The Auckland Festival of Photography aims to reflect the diversity of the population, and make photography as accessible as possible to both its creators and its consumers. So, alongside some of New Zealand’s top photographers and the internationally renowned photographers the festival brings to our shores, you’ll also find exhibitions with a more local focus in galleries and public spaces scattered throughout the city.

 This year, the festival’s theme is ‘fissure’. Director of the Angkor Photo Festival and guest curator for the Auckland Festival of Photography, Jessica Lim, says of the theme, “The notion of a divide or a chasm, no matter how narrow, has a tendency for negative connotations. In exploring ‘fissure’, I’ve looked at the gaps and spaces that concern us, both within and without, some real but mostly imaginary. I’ve done so with the understanding that light emanates from darkness, and the very same thing that can swallow you can also be the thing that you emerge from.”

 The theme presents itself in variable ways, whether it’s a political fissure, as seen in Living with the Hugo Chávez Legacy by Venezuelan photojournalist Alejandro Cegarra, the fissure between experience and memory, as seen in The Storm in the Morning by Su Jie Hao of China, its nuclear connotations as in Fukushima Dolls by Rob Gilhooly, or the literal, geographical fissures present in Mark Purdom’s Whakaari / White Island.

 The festival runs from 31 May through to 16 June. See the full programme by visiting, or pick up a physical copy from one of the 70 festival venues.

D-Photo’s Festival picks

Yvonne Shaw, from The Residual.jpg

Yvonne Shaw, Annual Commission
Silo 6, Silo Park, 30 May–16 June

Yvonne Shaw, recipient of this year’s Annual Commission, has explored how photography can capture the tiny unconscious gestures that betray one’s inner life. She will exhibit new work created for the festival exploring the psychological fissure that can arise between individuals in close proximity. See our feature on Yvonne’s work in D-Photo issue 90.


Yoko Ishii, Deer Planet
Outside Ellen Melville Centre, 29 May–18 June

In the Japanese city of Nara, deer are protected and revered, but in nearby cities, they are treated as pests. Presented on light boxes outdoors, Deer Planet explores the divide between built areas and wilderness as well as the arbitrary boundaries created by humans that can impact unknowing wildlife. Join photographer Yoko Ishii on Saturday, 1 June as she explains her work at the exhibition site.

Alejandro Cegarra, from Living with Hugo Chávez Legacy.jpg

Alejandro Cegarra, Living Hugo Chávez Legacy
Central City Library, 31 May–2 June

 After the death of long-time leader Hugo Chávez in 2013, Venezuela descended into chaos. Four years on, photojournalist Alejandro Cegarra was in his home country to document the turmoil. As part of the Digital Screens initiative, the work will be shown as a projection at Auckland’s central library. You also have the opportunity to hear from Alejandro himself at his ‘Talking Culture’ event at Auckland Art Gallery, 3pm, 2 June.

Sim Chi Yin, Most People Were Silent
Silo 6, 30 May–16 June

 Presented as a video diptych, Most People Were Silent pairs the Cascade Mountains in the US with Mount Paektu, the volcano that spans North Korea and China. The former was the water source for the world’s first nuclear test, and the latter looks over North Korea, which has conducted six nuclear tests since 2006. Singaporean photographer Sim Chi Yin invites viewers to draw parallels and suspend their sense of place as they watch the series of US and North Korean nuclear landscapes.

Sim Chi Yin, from Most People Were Silent.jpeg

Shahidul Alam, Embracing the Other
Studio One Toi Tū, 1 June–8 June

Shahidul Alam, from Embracing the Other.jpg

 In Embracing the Other, Shahidul Alam aims to remind the viewer that Islam endorses a more inclusive culture than what is often practised. The set of works was first exhibited in Bangladesh at the very mosque the work focuses on. Opening up the mosque for all to visit was one way in which the photographer aimed to combat Islamophobia and extremism, a theme reflected in the exhibition itself.

Roger Grasas, from Inshallah.jpg


Roger Grasas, Inshallah
Ellen Melville Centre, 11–17 June

Spanish photographer Roger Grasas’ latest series Inshallah simultaneously probes the effect of westernization on Persian Gulf countries, and the alienation and exile experienced by human beings in a post-modern digital society. Depicting landscapes and cityscapes often composed in surreal juxtapositions of old and new, the series explores globalization and alienation. The series will be projected at GridAKL in the Lysaght Building 4–7 June.


See our feature on Auckland Festival of Photography Annual Commission recipient Yvonne Shaw in D-Photo issue 90.