Fiona Clark: Unafraid
When Fiona Clark, a young queer photographer exhibits her photography of the LGBTQI community in 1975, she and her friends face the systemic backlash of an oppressive New Zealand society. Unafraid, Fiona battles the patriarchy and we discover how her documentation and contribution to the community has helped transform New Zealand society.
Fiona Clark discovered the power of her art by taking portraits of her friends who happened to be drag queens in mid 1970s New Zealand. Giving visibility to the socially marginalised, dismantling prejudice and fighting for equality through the lens of her camera would cement her as one of New Zealand’s historically groundbreaking photographers.
Happily living as an outsider in an old dairy factory filled with dusty treasures, Fiona reveals the stories behind her art and the stories within herself. Some of Fiona's most powerful projects include her documentation of people living with HIV and AIDS during the 1980s - a haunting, beautiful body of work with a tragic legacy.
Fiona reveals herself as an unaware relic of New Zealand Queer history, the good and the bad, having documented the beautiful illegal parties of the 70s, to the harsh reality of witnessing her friends die around her in the 80s. Following a tragic car accident in 1977, she produced a body of work ‘The Other Half’ exploring its scar on her life, as she has grappled with the partial blindness and head injury that she’s lived with ever since.
Rather than fall victim to her new altered body, Clark once again fought for her right to communicate through her art and went on to photograph her country’s bodybuilding subculture- one she seemingly doesn’t fit into at all however is filled with characters fighting with something, whether it be society or their own strength to find belonging.
She has been an advocate for the environment through her daily domestic practices as well as through her art. Clark’s images were used by the local Māori community for one of the first ever land claims through the Treaty of Waitangi Tribunal to show the value and magnificence of the coastal resources in question.
During this documentary, Lula Cucchiara delves into Clark’s history and legacy, tracing Clark's influences, cultural and geographical backdrops as well as the accident that turned her life upside down.
Clark’s story is one of contrasts and conflict; laced with heartbreak, both her own and that of her subjects, it is a journey that inspires hope through the power of acceptance.
In this portrait of Fiona Clark, Lula Cucchiara captures Clark’s ability to fearlessly hold a mirror to society’s face, to lift up the most vulnerable and to consciously make the world an easier place to live for future generations.