Photography is such a common art that some people don’t consider it art at all. The people considering art ‘art,’ of course, are heterosexual men who gatekeep whether they’re in Canada and New Zealand. Fiona Clark: Unafraid‘s titular subject is a photographer who justifies her medium, technology, and subjects. She does this even while seemingly unassuming,. She takes the camerapersons for a tour in her studio that was once a milk factory. Through her, the documentary takes us to her beginnings. Conceived during the Queen’s visit to New Zealand, she grows up to use photography to advocate for many things.
One of Clark’s causes, for the purposes of this festival, is to advocate for 2LGBT+ rights. However Fiona‘s climactic scenes include her giving viewers a tour of the factories in her rural New Zealand town. These ones, however, are still operational and emitting gases that contribute to climate change. I like the documentary’s segues, a comprehensive look into an artist with an extensive oeuvre. One’s sexuality is important but it shouldn’t be the only defining thing for a person. Clark can take pictures of gender non-conforming people and other subjects too.
Fiona has a fantastic mix of the small moments that reflect the bigger milestones in her life. Watching her, say, make soy milk is reflective of her work as an environmental photographer. It also dispels misinformation about alternatives to milk. Every documentary about artists from the 20th century have news archives,. But there’s something joyful about how that footage from different times refer to Clark. It also how the media changes their treatment of the trans community. Photographs that were once subject to censorship like Clark’s are now in galleries. This documentary shows that progress is possible.
Fiona Clark: Unafraid is an Inside Out Digital Exclusive.