Unveiling Instant Warhol: A regional journey into the genius mind of the legendary Andy Warhol

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Unveiling Instant Warhol: A regional journey into the genius mind of the legendary Andy Warhol

1. Andy Warhol, Sylvester Stallone, 1980, polacolor type 108. © Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. Artists Rights Society [ARS]/Copyright Agency, 2023 2. Andy Warhol Self-portrait in Drag, 1980 © Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. Artists Rights Society [ARS]/Copyright Agency, 2023.
Words by Staff Writer 

Whether you're immersed in the memories of the '70s and '80s or simply intrigued by the allure of a bygone era, Instant Warhol promises to leave a lasting impression.

Promising an unforgettable journey into the fascinating world of pop culture through the lens of the legendary Andy Warhol, the Ballarat International Foto Biennale (BIFB) proudly presents Instant Warhol. From August 26 to October 22, Australia’s own Ballarat will play host to this extraordinary exhibition that promises to transcend time and captivate audiences of all ages.

Taking centre stage at the Art Gallery of Ballarat for its Australian premiere, Instant Warhol is a collection of 59 original Polaroid portraits. These snapshots provide a unique window into Warhol’s obsession with capturing the essence of people, their allure, and the fleeting nature of fame. Prepare to be transported into the pop culture icon’s visual universe, where each photograph unveils stories waiting to be discovered.

Stay up to date with what’s happening within the region’s art scene here

But why Andy Warhol? Vanessa Gerrans, the visionary CEO behind the Ballarat International Foto Biennale, says the exhibition ties in nicely with the overall festival theme, The Real Thing.

“With the festival theme being ‘The Real Thing’, the Polaroids really resonated. They’re such an instant format that captures raw moments that emerge from the gloomy chemical process, resulting in timeless artifacts that transport us to a specific time and place.

“And it’s something that people will recognise and be excited to see.” 


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Andy Warhol, a true devotee of the Polaroid, embarked on a photographic odyssey between 1958 and 1987. These candid moments he captured served as both social documentation and artistry. What’s even more intriguing is that many of these photographs eventually metamorphosed into Warhol’s renowned silkscreen prints, solidifying their place in the annals of art history.

Capturing people, parties and pop culture of the 1970s and ‘80s, the curated collection of Polaroids – arriving thanks to a partnership with The Brant Foundation – provides a unique glimpse into the media-accelerated age of celebrity that Warhol was so famously a part of. Gerrans explains, “It’s the Brant Foundation’s entire Polaroid collection… celebrating that kind of media-accelerated age of celebrity.” 

As an organization steeped in admiration and support for Warhol’s legacy, the foundation’s founder, Peter M. Brant, shared a deep personal connection with Warhol, both as a patron and collaborator. Their camaraderie culminated in works that continue to resonate with the world, underscoring the exhibition’s significance.

In an era where Polaroids are making a resurgence, Instant Warhol holds the power to evoke nostalgia and curiosity. Gerrans believes that viewers will be drawn not only to the familiar faces captured by Warhol’s lens but also to the stories that accompany each photograph. One particularly enchanting story revolves around a candid encounter between Liza Minnelli and John Lennon, adding a layer of depth to the images.

This exhibition transcends generations, making it an ideal family-friendly experience. Gerrans affirms, “There’s definitely something for everyone. You’ll see portrait prints of celebrities like Mick Jagger, Sylvester Stallone and Dolly Parton, and many of the photographs are accompanied by stories that bring to life those moments.

“There are quite a few self-portraits of Warhol pulling faces or in wigs and makeup, in drag, which are also reminders of that performative aspect of his work.”

The Art Gallery of Ballarat will serve as the enchanted space where Instant Warhol takes its rightful place, allowing visitors to indulge in this visual spectacle. As an integral part of the broader Ballarat International Foto Biennale, the exhibition is set to be a tantalising piece of the grand mosaic that comprises over 2000 photographic works. From indoor cultural spaces to outdoor laneways, the festival will immerse attendees in the awe-inspiring world of photography.


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Beyond Instant Warhol, the festival promises an array of wonders, including a world premiere exhibition by acclaimed documentary photographer Platon, who has photographed the likes of Prince, Adele, Putin, Weinstein, Pussy Riot, Cate Blanchett and more. PEOPLE POWER – PLATON will feature 120 larger-than-life portraits, each encapsulating a unique narrative. Additionally, visitors can anticipate walking tours, outdoor installations, workshops with renowned photographers, and captivating performances that promise to leave an indelible mark.

“It’s been an adventure,” Gerrans says of curating the festival. “It’s been an adventure and a journey, and it’s been a joy to discover new artists and new work.

“We’ve got many international artists visiting too, so I’m hoping that people will take the opportunity to connect with them because it’s a rare opportunity to do that. We have Erik Johansson from Sweden, Vineet Vohra from India and Yvonne Todd from New Zealand, and it’s a great coming together and a great celebration of photography, which Ballarat has become known as the heartland for.”

As the countdown to August 26 commences, Ballarat is poised to ignite with a photography extravaganza that caters to diverse tastes. From iconic Polaroids to breathtaking outdoor installations, the Ballarat International Foto Biennale is primed to make its mark as a must-visit cultural destination.

Prepare to be captivated, inspired, and immersed in the realm of photography like never before.

Instant Warhol will be on display at the Art Gallery of Ballarat, 40 Lydiard Street North. Get tickets here

Ballarat International Foto Biennale is on from 25 August to 22 October 2023. The full program of events, exhibitions and talks plus tickets available in July at ballaratfoto.org

This article was made in partnership with Ballarat International Foto Biennale