Max Pam
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Artist profile 
Max Pam
Dame Joan Sutherland Fund recipient, Photographer
Max Pam (born 1949, Melbourne) is one of the most famous contemporary Australian photographers. His life story is illustrative about the thirst of young Australians to escape the slow, traditional and isolated Australian lifestyle in favour of seeing, touching, smelling, experiencing the world of overseas. At present Max Pam lives in Fremantle. His apartment offers the view of the harbour of Fremantle, which in the ninteen seventies and later on served as his gateway to the world.
Max Pam's key to his personal discovery of photography happened in Melbourne, where he grew up, surfing, failing high school then working as a darkroom monkey in various photo labs. In 1970 Max made his first voyage out of Australia with a camera a lot easier-to-handle travel companion than the surfboard. Max travelled with a camera, enjoyed photographing every emotional moment, acquaintances, incidents of his travel, at the same time strictly budgeting his shots per day, turning only the most intense moments into pictures. Having started to travel at the age of twenty, Max Pam continues to do so, afterwards compiling his photographs, drawings, collages, into travel journals. His photographs feature Asia: India, Pakistan, Yemen, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Indian Ocean rim islands, Africa: Ethiopia, Tanzania, Mauritius, Madagascar.
In the past decade his work has also looked at Europe and Australia. His first solo exhibition was at Melbourne University (1973). His international breakthrough came when his work was included in a group exhibition at the Arles photo festival 1982 titled EN ETAT DE VOYAGE with five other photographers, they were: Robert Frank, Henri Cartier-Bresson, William Klein, Danny Lyon and Bernard Plossu.
His premiere International solo exhibition overseas was at the Arles Photo Festival in 1986. More individual shows followed at the: Comptoir de la Photographie, Paris in (1990), followed by survey shows at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1991 and at the Nara Sogo Museum of Art, Japan (1992). Then a major show at Photo Espana, Madrid in 2002 and another survey show at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth (2002). The most recent comprehensive exhibition was Max Pam: Going East. at Eaton Fine Art, West Palm Beach, Florida (2007).
Now Max Pam teaches Photomedia at Edith Cowan University, Perth. Whilst living in London in the early 1990’s Max Pam was invited to begin the process of joining Magnum Photo Agency, he turned down the offer instead joining Metis Images in Paris in 1992. Pam's works have been published in Australian and international art and travel magazines. His book Going East was featured in Phaidon’s History of the Photobook Vol 2 in 2006. His prints are in national and private collections in Australia, France, Great Britain, Italy and Japan.
Max Pam published several photographic books, including “Max Pam” (1999), “Ethiopia” (1999), “Indian Ocean Journals” (2000). But it was the first one Going East: Twenty Years of Asian Photography (1992) that won the most prestigious European book award, French "Prix du livre". The latter monograph was among the causes of the book "Customs Ignored: Lithuanian and Australian Photography" to evolve.
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