ATONG ATEM for New Annual 2023

Image: Atong ATEM I Have Two of Everything 1 2022 Ilford smooth pearl print 100.0 x 150.0cm, edition of 3 + 2 AP Courtesy of MARS Gallery and the artist
Friday 22 September to Sunday 1 October
12:00pm - 8:00pm

ATONG ATEM is on display at 134 King Street until 01 October.

Internationally renowned photographer Atong Atem presents striking video and photographic portraiture in her first exhibition in Newcastle. Titled ATONG ATEM, the exhibition brings together two recent series of work to present migrant stories and obscured layers of history on a cinematic scale.

Presented within an unconventional venue, the exhibition features a beguiling video work Banksia propelled by an arresting score from composer Jerry Agbinya. This work highlights the experience of African men and women who arrived on the First Fleet in 1788— a colonial history that started long before Atem's own South Sudanese family arrived from Ethiopia to the Central Coast in 1997. Atem's large-scale photographic prints and vibrant portraits will be exhibited alongside this screening.

Atem's work reflects on the important and shifting role that photographic images hold in the migratory experience; "We have few things that travel continents with us as familial practises. We have recipes and textiles, crocheted doilies and Majok beads, and we have photo albums. Some faces in our photographs are drawn over with a marker, some cut out entirely. Some photos are much, much older than me, others were printed from an iPhone. Photos are gestures, examples of culture in flux".

This exhibition is a vivid offering that traces the cultural experience of belonging to two places, and how this history is remembered through images and objects.

ATONG ATEM is presented by Newcastle Art Gallery for New Annual 2023 and represents the first major exhibition of Atong Atem's work in the Hunter Region. Atong Atem is represented by MARS Gallery, Melbourne.

Exhibition times:

Friday 22 September - Saturday 30 September: 12:00pm - 8:00pm
Sunday 01 October: 12:00pm - 6:00pm



ATONG ATEM will be activated by a dynamic series of events presenting fashion, music, discussion, and storytelling from exciting creators celebrating African culture. 

Register your interest to receive exclusive event information straight to your inbox. Register here.


Friday 22 September, 9:00pm – 12:00am

Bold and unapologetic. CLUB SURAT will redefine City Hall's Banquet Room into a dance hall of hip-hop and Afro-jazz. Celebrate the opening of ATONG ATEM with a night cap on the dancefloor with powerful performers GLO and POOKIE, who draw on their roots as East African women and are taking the music industry by storm in the process. CLUB SURAT is a dynamic late night after party not to be missed.

This event is hosted at City Hall. Laneway entry via Christie Street.

Ticketed event. For bookings visit:

Friday Night Sounds

Friday 22 September, 5:00pm – 8:00pm

Friday 29 September, 5:00pm – 8:00pm

Kick off the weekend with us at Friday Night Sounds! A dynamic addition to the exhibition ATONG ATEM, we'll be serving you an evening of sonic refreshment and art. Register your interest to find out more about our incredible line up of artists!

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Freedom to Belong Panel Discussion

Sunday 24 September, 2:00pm – 4:00pm

Join Dr Elsa Licumba for a panel discussion exploring the local migrant experience. Dr Elsa Licumba is an author and cultural consultant passionate about understanding how migrants engage in cultural transition to reinvent their identity and sense of belonging.

The panel discussion will be followed by an afternoon of music and conversation.

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Sensory Hour

Wednesday 27 September, 3:00pm – 4:00pm

Our Sensory Hour aims to provide a low-sensory experience for a range of different visitors, aiming to reduce sensory stimulation, and acknowledging the power of a quiet and contemplative visit.

We'll be turning the sound down and lights on to welcome everyone for an inclusive experience.

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Auslan in the Park Meet Up

Saturday 30 September, 1:30pm – 3:00pm

In celebration of City of Newcastle's Count Us In festival, we are partnering with Auslan in the Park, a locally run community based social group within the Deaf community, to host a social meet up in the exhibition ATONG ATEM.

Auslan in the Park strives to create a safe space for Deaf/Hard of Hearing/Deafblind and Auslan users to spend time outside and socialise at the Newcastle Foreshore, surrounding parks and public spaces.

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ATONG ATEM Closing Party

Sunday 1 October, 2:00pm – 3:30pm

Don't miss our Closing Party! Join us for an afternoon celebrating local African women and creatives in our community, bridging diverse African cultures and generations. Featuring a fashion show with bespoke label ÆGLE Couture, a book launch with local mother-daughter duo Jackie and Nuru Gunter, and Sydney-based DJ GNGR behind the decks.

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Guided Tours

Saturday 23 September, 1:00pm – 1:30pm

Sunday 24  September, 1:00pm – 1:30pm

Saturday 30 September, 1:00pm – 1:30pm (Auslan Interpreted)

Sunday 1 October, 1:00pm – 1:30pm

Delve deeper into the exhibition ATONG ATEM with our knowledgeable Gallery Guides.

In celebration of City of Newcastle's Count Us In festival, we are offering an Auslan interpreted Guided Tour for Deaf/Hard of Hearing/Deafblind community members on Saturday 30 September.

Tours commence on time at the entrance to the exhibition. Average duration: 30 minutes.

Please note: Guided tours have a limited spots available.

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All ticket/item prices include GST, if applicable, and are quoted in AU$.


ATONG ATEM Exhibition
134 King Street
Cnr of Perkins and King Street