South Sudanese/Australian artist Atong Atem’s first photobook, Surat, takes its name from the word ‘snapshots’ in Sudanese Arabic. The series acts as a homage to family photos and the characters within them.
It was created throughout 2021 and sees Atem revisit her family photo albums, which span decades and continents, restaging and reimagining the scenes and people within them. The resulting book is a series of “performances as self-portraits”, says Atem. “We have few things that travel continents with us as familial practices. We have recipes and textiles, crocheted doilies and Majok beads, and we have photo albums. Some faces in our photographs are drawn over with a marker, some cut out entirely. Some photos are much, much older than me, others were printed from an iPhone. Photos are gestures, examples of culture in flux.”