08 September 2016

Gazebook Opens its 2nd Edition

08 September 2016 - Written by PhMuseum

Teresa Bellina and Simone Sapienza bring us into the world and atmosphere of the Sicilian photobook festival, which will open tomorrow - September 9th - in Punta Secca.

A picture of Sicily from Simone Sapienza's Instagram account

Hi guys, can you tell us more about Gazebook? What is the festival about? Who are the people behind it and what are your goals?

Teresa: Gazebook aims to promote photography in Sicily, especially in photobook form. It has been co-founded by three friends – Melissa, Teresa and Simone – and supported by a scientific art committee composed of Lina Pallotta, Colin Pantall, Chiara Oggioni Tiepolo, and Maurizio Garofalo. We wanted to set up an intensive 3-day festival with a great line-up that represents a top-value scene of contemporary photography right now.

What motivated you to organize the festival? Why in Sicily and why are you focusing on photobooks?

Teresa: We have both personal and communal reasons for why we decided to set Gazebook up. We believe that Sicily can be a good place to convey the contemporary photography scene. Organizing Gazebook here was a real challenge with economical and logistic problems. Impossible is nothing though, isn't it? It's also an act of love to both respect and enjoy our native land. Gazebook is a small festival, but we have great ambitions.

The program of this second edition looks very exciting, with a well diversified group of industry professionals that spans different generations. Which criteria did you use at the moment of selecting them and curating the festival in general? What characterizes this second edition?

Teresa: Our program is definitely rich and complementary. There are not specific criteria, we just try to be up to date with the contemporary and international scene. Our committee is really helpful for this. We follow our inspirations to bring something fresh, that doesn't necessary mean “young”. Have you seen Martin Parr? Still such a boost of energy!

© Eileen Quinn & Valentino Bellini, from the series LIMBO

Exhibitions, talks, workshops, a bookshop, the Sicilian hospitality and even a Lemonade Stand. With so many options, how do you recommend to approach the festival? Which would be your ideal day at Gazebook between photography and leisure?

Teresa: We would just like that everyone coming to Gazebook takes his shoes off, enjoys the Mediterranean Sea, and scrubs his skin with our golden sand from the beach. They can free their mind, enjoy the festival and the beautiful place with curiosity and carefreeness.

Among the many initiatives of this second edition, there is one that caught my attention: Slideluck Gazebook - When Photobooks Make Love With Multimedia. I like the idea of interaction between the online and offline world and I’m interested in the original binomial photobooks-multimedia. Can you tell me more about it? Can you show us a sneak peek of a video you’ll be showcasing at the festival?

Simone: Photobooks and multimedia are so different as mediums that we asked to find a connection between them: this open call has been a real challenge for everyone! Photographers were asked to use their creativity as movie directors to disassemble their photobook and see how their images and text can dance on the rhythm of the right soundtrack!

We know that every different dissemination of the project, either as photobook, multimedia, exhibition or web-gallery, needs a different approach. Each of them is not supposed to represent the project in the same way, but instead to be complementary and give the same mood. The multimedia can also be a quick, contemporary, easy-to-share, way to promote your photobook: who still looks at boring browsing-pages video?

We can't sneak peek a video of the official projection, but we can look at these great, deep, engaging, multimedia works of Olivia Arthur and Laura El-Tantawy, both in the line-up of our talks.

Photo by Xose Manuel Ribeira

Most of the time photography festivals are mainly attended by industry professionals, while I think it is necessary to broaden the boundaries and engage also that audience outside of the industry itself. What do you think about this? How are you creating an audience for the festivals?

Simone: I do agree with you. We can't stay anymore inside this selfish bubble. Photography must open its boundaries to people that don't belong to the photography market. This problem doesn't affect only festivals, but also the whole photography world itself, from photographers to critics.

That's also why we decided to set Gazebook up as open-air, free-cost, festival. It's important that local people can attend the talks and discover what these guests are going to narrate behind and beyond their projects. People are often curious and we think it's time to give space to debates, Q&As, conversations. We are so much surrounded by any kind of images every day, and therefore we need to speak about that, don't we?

I like to call Gazebook a “horizontal” festival, without any pyramidal scheme. We want to build a confidential, friendly, relationship between the guests involved in the line-up and all the other guests who are coming on their own to enjoy the festival and Punta Secca.

Let’s close with a great classic. Where do you see Gazebook in 10 years?

Simone: I hope that Gazebook can last for many years, but is that so important? I'd say it's not even important to imagine Gazebook in 10 years, rather instead how I imagine Sicily in a few years. I hope that our work could be a breakthrough in Sicily, inspiring other people to set new cultural events up and invest more in Sicily. Gazebook might not last forever, but I'm sure that we have proved something really important that won't be easily forgotten.

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