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Pam Max


Max Pam, (born Melbourne, 1949) is a contemporary Australian photographer.

As a teenager Pam found post-war suburban Melbourne grim, oppressive and culturally isolated. He found refuge in the counter-culture of surfing and the imagery of National Geographic and Surfer Magazine and became determined to travel overseas.

Pam left Australia at 20, after accepting a job as a photographer assisting an astrophysicist. Together, the pair drove a Volkswagen from Calcutta to London. This adventure proved inspirational, and travel has remained a crucial and continuous link to his creative and personal development. As Gary Dufour noted in his essay on Pam’s work for Pam's book Indian Ocean Journals (Steidl, 2000): “Each photograph is shaped by incidents experienced as a traveller. His photographs extend upon the tradition of the gazetteer; each photograph a record of an experience, a personal account of an encounter somewhere in the world. Each glimpse is part of an unfolding story rather than simply a record of a place observed. While travel underscores his production Pam’s photographs are not the accidental evidence of a tourist.”

Pam’s work takes the viewer on compelling journeys around the globe. His extensive work in Asian counties is well represented in this exhibition as are his travels in Europe and Australia and into the rich and diverse Indian Ocean Rim cultures including India, Pakistan, Myanmar, Yemen, The Republic of Tanzania, Mauritius, Madagascar, the Cocos and Christmas Islands.

These images leave the viewer, as Tim Winton said in Pam’s award winning book Going East (Marval 1992), “grateful for having been taken so mysteriously by surprise and so far and sweetly abroad.”

Pam’s first survey show was held at the Art Gallery of Western Australia in 1986, and was followed by a mid-career retrospective at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1991. He was also the subject of a major exhibition at the Comptoir de la Photographie, Paris in 1990, which covered the work of three decades. He has published several highly acclaimed photographic monographs and 'carnets de voyage', including Going East: Twenty Years of Asian Photography (1992), Max Pam (1999), Ethiopia (1999) and Indian Ocean Journals (2000).

Going East won Europe’s major photo book award the Grand Prix du Livre Photographique in 1992. In the same year he held his largest solo show to date at the Sogo Nara Museum of Art, Nara. He has published work in the leading international journals and is represented in major public and private collections in Australia, Great Britain, France and Japan.

Max Pam is the subject of episode five of the television series Visual Instincts (Artemis International, 1989).

Pam currently teaches photomedia at Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia. Forthcoming books include Atlas Monographs - 1971/2005 (T&G, Sydney) and Contingency in Madagascar (with the writer Stephen Muecke) (Mácula de Plata, Gijon, Spain)

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