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Creative Paddington: Stephen Dupont

By Lola Pinder



Internationally acclaimed documentary photographer, Stephen Dupont has covered stories across the world including Afghanistan, Kashmir, Iraq, Rwanda, Indonesia, East Timor and Papua New Guinea.

He has won acclaimed prizes such as, the Robert Capa Citation, a Bayeux War Correspondent’s Prize, the World Press Photo Award, the W. Eugene Smith Grant, as well as the Robert Gardener Fellowship from Harvard. 

Dupont has had a relationship with the ACP for over a decade including exhibitions, artist’s talks and professional development workshops. He first exhibited with the ACP in 2002 as part of Witness: An Exhibition of Australian Photojournalism. The exhibition showed the tenacity and intimacy of great photojournalism and the potent political and aesthetic strengths of the photographer’s work. The exhibition also included Paul Blackmore, David Dare Parker, Michael Amendolia, Dean Sewell, Trent Parke, Narelle Autio, Glen Hunt, Ashley Gilbertson and Jack Picone. 

In 2005 Dupont exhibited as part of the group show PNG-Papua New Guinea. He showed his well-known series Raskols, life sized portraits of the ‘Kips Kaboni’ or ‘Red Devils’, PNG’s oldest raskol gang. The portraits show a precarious blurring of intimacy, respect and violence. The large format Dupont uses allows these works to become a meditation for the viewer, upon the individual, as well as the nature of photojournalism. Dupont reflects the role today of the documentarian in photography is to create a narrative, to slip backstage and express an intimacy or an essence of human behaviour in each context.

Dupont is among those who continue to champion the importance of photojournalism and documentary series in photography despite national and international news outlets letting off their photographic staff in droves. Dupont is now director of the Reportage Photojournalism Festival, the creation of documentary photographers Michael Amendolia, Jack Picone, David Dare Parker and Dupont in a living room at Bondi Beach back in 1999. This idea was borne out of the frustrations they were experiencing at the time at not being able to exhibit their work to a wider public and for it to be aesthetically appreciated.  From the festivals beginnings, in a show with two slide projectors and slides of the four photojournalists' works in the Valhalla Cinema in Glebe. In 2013 the festival saw documentary projects projected large scale on the Sydney foreshore, between the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. 

Dupont also joined with fellow Australian conflict photographers in the cooperative °SOUTH, along with Ben Bohane, Michael Coyne, David Dare Parker, Ashley Gilbertson, Tim Page and Jack Picone. ACP’s 2009 exhibition °SOUTH – War showed a collection of works from these men, who chose to collaborate and share their work as independent works of art, instead of competing as conflict photographers for hire. As such, this collaboration intended to create greater social change through their photography and draw awareness to the impact of war.

In 2010 Dupont had an expansive solo show at the ACP, Afghanistan: the Perils of Freedom 1993-2009. Bringing together 15 years of work Dupont had covered in Afghanistan, the exhibition became an installation of photojournalistic practice. The mural-like hanging, as well as the sequential chronicling of people and conflicts, celebrated Dupont’s stories from the region. 

Stephen Dupont will be exhibiting at the ACP in June this year with his show The Outside Land. He takes his audience back to PNG, this time exploring the cultural erosion and western influences in the urban regions of the country. He is also published in this year's volume of international arts magazine Matador Q In Praise of Photography. This edition is edited by Robert Pledge and also includes social documentarian heavies Sebastião Salgado and David Burnett.

This post is part of the Art Month event Creative Paddington taking place on March 7th in conjunction with Metro Screen and UNSW Art & Design.


Images courtesy ACP.

Image 2: opening of °SOUTH – War from left to right; Tim Page, David Dare Parker, Stephen Dupont, Jack Picone, Ben Bohane, Jack Thompson & Michael Coyne