Born 1954, Inglewood (NZ). Lives and works in Tikorangi (NZ)
Fiona Clark’s photographs provide access to crucial forms of social history, often investigating the politics of gender, identity, and the body. For over four decades she has produced intimate and engaged images of bodies generally avoided by the public gaze, be they drag performers, professional body-builders, or people living with HIV.
While studying at Elam School of Fine Arts, Auckland, between 1972-5, Clark developed a performance-based practice before moving into photography in her final year. Performativity and the politics of identity would prove to be concepts which informed Clark’s later work, and these interests indirectly led her to document Auckland’s drag and transsexual communities. These works provided the methodology for much of Clark’s later practice, especially in their emphasis on a collaborative approach and a sense of responsibility towards her images’ subjects, as seen in the then-controversial Dance Party series, which was subject to censorship after being included in the Auckland Art Gallery’s 1977 group show, The Active Eye.
Between 2002–2006 Clark exhibited a series of solo exhibitions, entitled GO GIRL, at public art institutions across Australasia, including at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Dunedin (2006); Whangarei Art Museum, Whangarei (2005); and the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth (2002). In 2016 Clark participated in the SIART 9 Biennale at Museo Nacional de Arte, Bolivia and produced the solo exhibition For Fantastic Carmen at Artspace Aotearoa, Auckland.
A feature-length documentary, Fiona Clark: Unafraid was released in 2021 and in 2023 Clark was made an Arts Foundation Te Tumu Toi Laureate.