Recipient of the Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence, Bachelor of Arts (Photography)(Honours) sponsored by Kayell Australia.



Historical critique of power relationships in photography has focused on broad, categorical, systemic relationships, such as those of, and existing between, race, gender, or class—rather than the more humanised interpersonal relationships. My practice seeks to re-negotiate the distribution of power in photography on an interpersonal level by premising looking as an extractive act, with a focus on the making and viewing of images. In making images, a photographer looks at a subject; in viewing images an audience member may look at a work. Respectively, a photographer and an audience member may be considered privileged, and my work re-negotiates some of this privilege (or power).

In contrast to a study of a specific systemic gaze—such as one based on race, gender, sexuality, etc.—I argue that a broader, holistic, but systemically agnostic view of a circular framework of power within photography is relevant, such as by showcasing how relationships within photography aren’t strictly linear. For example, as a photographer, I look at a subject—but doesn’t mean that the subject may not have given me permission to be seen. With digital photography, technology exists to allow the subject to at once view, critique, and help direct their own image even if they themselves are not photographers. When considered this way, looking is circular or perhaps part of a larger ecosystem of looking.

With respect to looking, I have created two works: one is a socially engaged work where I set up a studio space to photograph a subject, but then consensually negotiated the space for the subject to perform as they wished, in doing so, shifting the definition of subject and photographer and challenging what it means to hold privilege within a photographic making space. To date, the work consists of forty videos with twenty different subjects. However, this work is about the making of the work so isn’t necessarily audience-facing. In saying that, this practice has also yielded videos that are meant to be shown as an installation that intends to obfuscate viewership; audience members are tasked to labour if they wish to view the work.

Breaking Bread is a critique of image culture: how photography is made and consumed. I am less concerned with what is photographed or the content of the image, but rather how the interpersonal relationships within photography are negotiated. The work is not about the creative output or practice of photography; instead, it is a critique of the ways of photographic making and viewing—the economies of which each of us should have a right to negotiate. When considered this way, this work is less about what is imaged and more about the reinterpretation of performing looking and performing being looked at within photography. By considering the work in this way, the content of the work does not matter—instead what is important is what the form of the work is as an ideological function of looking.


Potential site-specific installation for Breaking Bread. Breaking Bread isn’t a singular work, but rather the work is the labour required to ‘do looking’ on images by a viewer. Installation View 1 shows video screens arranged around a central structure. Viewers may look at one screen at a time; should they wish to view other screens viewers have to labour and move to the other screens. As the videos on each screen are asynchronous and on a loop, each ‘looking’ at the work is different depending on what day or time a viewer participates in the work.


Installation View 2 shows portraits projected onto a wall in a darkened room. The projector is arranged such that viewers are tasked with negotiating and labouring within the viewing space so as to not obfuscate the projection by standing in front of it.


I am a photographer and artist based in Melbourne, Australia.
More of my work can be viewed on my website or Instagram.
My e-mail address is
Please feel free to e-mail me for opportunities to exhibit, sale of work, commissions, or just to say hello!

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Ali Choudhry