14 September 2023

Looking at Ourselves with Inside Out Katherine

If you’ve been to Katherine Cinema lately, you may have noticed something special on the big screen: before each film over 150 smiling, charming, funny faces stare back at you in the flickering light. Welcome to our Inside Out Katherine project: a reflection and celebration of people in our community told through photographs. 

About ten years ago in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, I walked past a wall filled with large printed portraits. The faces were all local—waiters, teachers, artists, business people—and the project was called Inside Out. The idea began in France in 2011, and has since fostered thousands of community-based projects around the world. 

It’s become a public art phenomenon, and a way for places to use the camera to celebrate the people around them. As twentieth century photographer Edward Steichen observed, the art of portraiture also helps us document and reflect on who we are:

“Photography records the gamut of feelings written on the human face, the beauty of the earth and skies that man has inherited, and the wealth and confusion man has created. It is a major force in explaining man to man.”

At the start of the dry season, in partnership with the Katherine City Council events team, we hatched a plan to bring the first Inside Out project to the Northern Territory. The Godinymayin team installed a pop-up studio inside the Katherine Oasis shopping centre, and invited people in. Within a few days, we shot 167 new portraits and made even more new friends. The project reminded us what fine art photographer Aaron Siskind said about the final image: 

“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever. It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.”

We are currently searching for the perfect Katherine wall, and the next step will be to install the 150+ faces to create a new, temporary public art mural. And just like the one I wandered up to in Baton Rouge all those years ago, it will charm and inspire onlookers, smile back at the community, and reveal something about the place we live in.  

Until that appears, you can find our town’s Inside Out portraits at the movies before each feature film. Arrive a little early, take a seat, and revel in this diverse representation of Katherine—captured forever with a gamut of faces and range of human feelings. 

There really is a simple kind of magic embedded in this idea and its process. It confirms what famous artist Ansel Adams once said about the power of the image: “Photography is an austere and blazing poetry of the real.” With our Inside Out Katherine project, the poetry is the people.

— Eric Holowacz
Chief Executive Officer

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