Dr Susan Fereday is an Australian artist, writer, curator and educator.
Susan Fereday uses a range of media, including digital and analogue photography, installation, video, light and shadow. She is well-known for her post-photographic installations in which simple materials (glass and metal bowls, light and shadow) are employed to invoke the logic of photography without the use of traditional photographic prints. She also works with found photographs, as with the series Under a Steel Sky, in which amateur snapshots from the 1950s resembles Robert Frank’s, The Americans.
Fereday initially trained as a photographic technician in Adelaide before relocating to Melbourne to study photographic art at Prahran College of Advanced Education, where she completed a Bachelor of Arts, in 1986, and a Master of Arts (Fine Art) by research, in 1992. In 1995 she won a Samstag scholarship and undertook research in Paris in 1996 and 1997. Fereday has been a lecturer in art theory and studio practice at Victoria College of the Arts, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, and Monash University. In 2010 she completed a doctorate at Monash University. From 2002 to 2004 she lived in Vienna, Austria, and from 2008 to 2015 in Wiesbaden, Germany. In 2015 she returned to live Adelaide, and was Head of Art Theory at Adelaide Central School of Art from 2015 to 2016. In 2019 she lectured as course co-ordinator in the Curatorial & Museum Studies MA program at the University of Adelaide.
Fereday has held numerous solo exhibitions across Australia including at: Experimental Art Foundation, Adelaide (1993); Artspace, Sydney (1996); Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney (1989); 200 Gertrude Street, Melbourne (1990); Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane (1994, 2001-2002); West Space, Melbourne (2008); Sutton Gallery, Melbourne (1993, 1995, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2005); Bellas Gallery, Brisbane (1995, 1999, 2002); Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne (2013) and Sarah Scout Presents, Melbourne (2011, 2013, 2016). Her work has been included in significant survey exhibitions including: Lurid Beauty: Australian Surrealism and its Echoes (curator Simon Maidment) at National Gallery of Victoria (2015); Transmission: Legacies of the Television Age (curator Maggie Finch) at National Gallery of Victoria (2015); Photographic Abstractions (curators Stella Loftus-Hills and Stephen Zagala) at Monash Gallery of Art (2013); Photographer Unknown (curator Kyla McFarlane) at Monash University Museum of Art (2009); Photography is Dead! Long Live Photography (curator Linda Michael), at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (1996), and The Aberrant Object: Women Dada and Surrealism (curator Juliana Engberg), Museum of Modern Art at Heide (1994). During a residency at the IMA in Brisbane between 2001 and 2002, she presented an extended cycle of six installations, titled Remember Me. Her work is held in private and public collections across Australia, including the National Gallery of Australia and the National Gallery of Victoria, Queensland Art Gallery, Monash Gallery of Art, and Queensland Art Gallery.
From 1992 to 1995 Fereday was the director of the Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne, and an active curator. Exhibitions include: Ruins in Reverse (artists Lauren Berkowitz, Adam Boyd, Colin Duncan, Hewson-Walker, Shaun Kirby, Chris Langton, Callum Morton, Rose Nolan, Deborah Ostrow, Kathy Temin, Chris Ulbrick, Chris White, Constanze Zikos) for RMIT Gallery, 1996; Like-ness: 46 photographs from Waverley City Collection, Centre for Contemporary Photography, 1995; Ipso-Photo (co-curated with Stuart Koop) (artists Margaret Roberts, Chris Fortescue, Marie Sierra-Hughes, Phillip Watkins) Centre for Contemporary Photography, 1994; Don’t Stop (co-curated with Shiralee Saul) gallery shop and mail-order catalogue of works by 30 artists, Linden Gallery, 1994; Immortality (artists Rose Farrell & George Parkin, Jeff Gibson, Chris Tabecki, Polixeni Papapetrou, Heather Fernon) Centre for Contemporary Photography, 1993; After the Fact: Photographs from the Police Forensic Archive, Victorian Centre for Photography, 1992.
Fereday has written catalogue essays, reviews and articles for Australian art magazines including Agenda,Photofile, and Eyeline. Texts include: 'Wired World,'; a catalogue essay for the exhibition by Simon Maidment and Paul Shephard at Conical Gallery, Melbourne, 2006, and ‘Photography in the art museum’, Agenda #13/14, 1990. She has presented at conferences. Papers include: 'I Am the Ghost in the Image', AAANZ, Melbourne, 2006; 'After Photography', Queensland Festival of Photography, Brisbane, 2006; 'Imaging the Other in Recent Australian Photography', Australian High Commission New Delhi, India, 1999. Her books include: 'I Fall in Love with a Beautiful Newcomer Hiding a Deadly Secret' (2000), and a monograph 'The Object of Photography: a theory of photography in (my) pictures' (2013).
Fereday's research is mainly around theories of photography. Her doctoral thesis, Light Out of Darkness: the origin of photography in mystery and melancholy, explored occluded meanings in the early photographs of Nicéphore Niépce and William Henry Fox Talbot.