BIFB Mass Isolation Project

Events, Inspiration, Social

BIFB Drives Insta COVID Visual Record

3 August 2020

By Katrina Ferguson

Australia’s Ballarat International Foto Biennale (BIFB) is partnering with FORMAT International Photography Festival and Gallery of Photography Ireland on Instagram to curate an online visual record and public archive of isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

BIFB is welcoming submissions from all Australians and it’s free to participate by using the hashtags:


#massisolationAUS; and


Selected posts adopting the hashtags will also be shared by project curators Shaohui Kwok and Amelia Saward on the @massisolationAUS Instagram feed.

Mass Isolation Australia Instagram Account
ABOVE: The @massisolationaus Instagram account. Use the project hashtags for a chance to be featured

2020 is fast becoming a hugely significant moment in time. The explosion in smart phone technology has opened up the world of photography to more people than ever before and we wanted to capture the COVID-19 event in a meaningful way.

Fiona Sweet, BIFB Artistic Director
Mass Isolation Australia BIFB Instagram Feed
ABOVE: A sample of works in the curated Instagram feed by @massisolationaus

Mass Observation

The 2020 Mass Isolation curation was inspired by the 1937 Mass-Observation social research in Britain, which aimed to record details of everyday life through some 500 volunteer participant diaries, and questionnaires.

“I know that photographic artists will find new ways to interpret the world right now, but I encourage anyone to submit their ideas and photographs,” says BIFB Artistic Director, Fiona Sweet.

“It’s an opportunity to find lightness, to share experiences and build our faith in humanity’s ability to survive.”

Jesse Marlow, Stay at home photograph
ABOVE: ‘Stay at Home’ by Jesse Marlow

Fiona was inspired to create the Mass Isolation project after spending two weeks in self-isolation having returning from the US back in March.

[I’ve] experienced first-hand the loneliness of being by yourself. It has been the digital world that has allowed me to stay connected.

Fiona Sweet, BIFB Artistic Director
COVID Isolation photo by Sydney Low
ABOVE: Mass Isolation project submission by Sydney Low, Asterisk Images.

More About BIFB

BIFB is famous for its extended, not-for-profit international festival of photography held every second year in Ballarat, Victoria (as an aside, save the dates for 9th biennale in 2021: 28 August-24 October.)

The festival has been running since 2005 and attracted over 200,000 visitors to its regional home in Ballarat over that course of time.

BIFB founder and former festival director, Jeff Moorfoot OAM, is a former vice president of the AIPP and does indeed – as his bio suggests – have a LOT of letters after his name: OAM, AIPP L, FAIPP, HLM, MPhotogV…if you don’t mind.

Needless to say, Jeff is an AIPP stalwart.

Current BIFB Artistic Director, Fiona Sweet, took the baton from Jeff in 2017. Fiona is also the Director at the National Centre For Photography, Australia’s newest and only regional gallery dedicated exclusively to photography.

BIFB Founder Jeff Moorfoot and Current Creative Director Fiona Sweet
ABOVE (L-R): BIFB Founder, Jeff Moorfoot, and current Creative Director, Fiona Sweet (photo source: The Courier.)

Remember to use the Instagram hashtags #massisolation, #massisolationAUS and #ballaratfoto to feature.

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