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Developing Influences: Photography and Power


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Helmut Newton is one of the most influential fashion photographers of all time, but the sexual objectification of his subjects has long been criticised. Join a panel of contemporary photographers as they contemplate the divisive eye behind the lens, and discuss how they engage with inspiring – and challenging – influences from the past.

In association with the Jewish Museum of Australia’s landmark new retrospective Helmut Newton: In Focus, photographers Atong Atem, Shannon May Powell and James J. Robinson explore the history of photography as both an art form and a trade, the balance between capturing aesthetic beauty and objectification, and discuss how photography can be used as a tool for empowerment.

In conversation with host Tai Snaith, they share their varied professional and artistic experiences and offer a contemporary lens on the power and politics of photography.

Presented in partnership with Jewish Museum of Australia and PHOTO 2022


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Atong Atem

Atong Atem is an Ethiopian born, South Sudanese artist and writer living in Narrm/ Melbourne. Atem works primarily with photography and video to explore migrant narratives, postcolonial practices in the African diaspora and the exploration of identity through portraiture. Atem explores concepts of h... Read more

Shannon May Powell

Shannon May Powell is a poet and artist whose work poses gestures of longing towards new possibilities of gender, sexuality and trans-corporeal feminism. Their practice is grounded in the body and relationally activated by the people and places they collaborate with. Their work has featured at the E... Read more

James J. Robinson

James J. Robinson is an Australian/Filipino artist based in Los Angeles. James’s work is regularly published by the likes of The New York Times and Vogue Australia, working with names like Kylie Jenner, Rihanna and Virgil Abloh, while creative directing and shooting campaigns for Instagram and Mai... Read more

Tai Snaith

Tai Snaith is an artist, author and broadcaster living and working on unceded Wurundjeri land. Her multi-disciplinary work celebrates the intersection of stories, collections, people and place. She is interested in how objects like books, vessels and other utilitarian items can be powerful tools to ... Read more


The Wheeler Centre

176 Little Lonsdale Street Melbourne Victoria 3000

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The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Centre stands. We acknowledge and pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their Elders, past and present, as the custodians of the world’s oldest continuous living culture.