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Atong Atem: Surat

Atong Atem: Surat
Library Shelf Location 18.ATEM
Publication Date 21 May 2022
Description

Surat is the first photobook by South Sudanese / Australian artist Atong Atem and the second in the PHOTO Editions series, co-published by Photo Australia and Perimeter Editions.

Commissioned by Photo Australia for PHOTO 2022 International Festival of Photography, 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.

But beyond this, Surat is a celebration of the visual language of family photographs and photography as an extension of our oral traditions. ‘We sing songs to tell history and we dress up and sit for photographs to mythologise our histories,’ says Atem. This body of work honours the Dinka tradition of record-keeping and archiving as an intimate cultural practice.

For Atem, the book is also about movement, both geographic and historic. As she explains, ‘It’s about South Sudan, so-called Australia and everywhere else in between that I’ve rested my head to dream about my people – or rather, the depictions of people I don’t know but am connected to through photographs.’

ISBN 9781922545084
Quantity 1
Pages 48
Editors Elias Redstone, Justine Ellis, Dan Rule
Format Hardback
Publishers Photo Australia, Perimeter Editions, Melbourne, Australia
Category Artists' Monographs A-Z
Keywords Family Photographs, South Sudanese, Australian, Dinka tradition, Record-keeping and archiving
Language English

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