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Announcing The New PhMuseum Days Exhibition Program
Published13 Jul 2023
- Topics Festivals
Themed I Don't Know How To Respond To That, the PhMuseum International Photo Festival is back for its third edition, with 9 solo exhibitions, 2 collective shows, and more to be announced in the upcoming weeks.
I Don't Know How To Respond To That is the answer that virtual assistants like Apple Siri give when they can't find a solution to our questions. A statement raising several questions on the role of technology in our lives, this will be the theme leading the International Photography Festival PhMuseum Days’s third edition. The event, curated and organised by PhMuseum, will take place from the September 22 to October 1st 2023 in Bologna, Italy at DumBO’s Spazio Bianco plus other venues around the city, where a vast program of exhibitions, talks, projections, and portfolio reviews will be hosted, along with a space dedicated to independent photography publishing.
The aim of the new edition is to explore the dialogue between humans and machines, the development of language in a broad sense, and the environmental issues connected to technology that remain today largely unsolved.
These questions were initially addressed in the festival’s preview, Sara Bastai’s (Portugal, 1996) show RAM_4.0, which was inaugurated on the 18th of May at PhMuseum Lab. RAM_4.0 is a fictional narrative of the artist’s life developed in conversation with an AI: first submitting hundreds of photographs from her smartphone’s library to an image-analysis algorithm, then photographing new scenarios based on the AI-generated captions, Bastai developed a body of work that interrogates memory and augmented representations of our society.
The dialogue with artificial intelligence is crucial to Another Online Pervert by Brea Souders (USA, 1978) as well, a project where real-time conversations between the artist and a female online chatbot are interspersed with entries from Souders’ journals, as well as with photographs from her archive - a unique exploration of how a machine and a human can learn from one another and build a shared story.
The relationship between the real and the virtual gets more and more blurred. West of Here by Leonardo Magrelli (Italy, 1989) at first glance looks like a classical photographic survey of Los Angeles, but instead depicts Los Santos, the fictional scenario where the videogame Grand Theft Auto V is set. Collected, edited, cropped, and turned to black and white by the author, the images lose their virtual evidence and challenge our belief in photography as a trace of reality.
Photographer Penelope Umbrico (USA, 1957), whose artistic work has always been inquiring the growing production and consumption of photographs in the online environment, will bring together four projects (Screen Sun, 1320 TVs from Craigslist, 53.6 Million Metric Tons of E-Waste, Screen Code) for the exhibition Out of Order. Here, she will focus on the ubiquitous presence of screen devices in our lives and on the weight of their afterlife, using the online collected imagery to map the changes of technologies, and the evolution of our relationship to them through time.
The deep and complex entanglement in-between technology and our contemporary life is at the core of Known and Strange Things Pass by Andy Sewell (UK, 1978) as well, a project twisting our perception of the objects around us starting from a series of photographs taken on either side of the Atlantic, where the Internet’s cables are concentrated.
The lens will shift to ecologies with Non Technological Devices by Chloé Milos Azzopardi (France, 1994). «Non technological devices» are composite tools made from gleaned natural elements, assembled to mimic the technological devices that populate our daily lives. Through an imaginative, poetic vision of the future embodied in her organic cyborgs, the artist questions our relationship with nature and the disappearance of earthly “resources”, thus shaping new ways of imagining augmented lives.
The environmental impact of the internet and aviation is fundamental to Flyin’ High, by the Italian duo The Cool Couple (Niccolò Benetton, 1986, and Simone Santilli, 1987, Italy). A one-hour flight from Milan to Rome on a simulated digital plane, Flyin’ High is an NFT, too: buying it corresponds to boarding the aircraft for real, as it would equally pollute the environment by emitting the same amount of CO2.
The curatorial path will eventually explore the theme of language with two works in particular: captionthis by Luca Massaro (Italy, 1991), a project on the ever-changing relationship between image and word today, on the disappearance of writing and on mimetic and memetic representations; and Security Questions by Daniel Everett (USA, 1980) which, starting off from the security questions asked by algorithms to verify our human identity, addresses the divide between human complexity and the technological systems we use to assess it.
Among the works presented at the Festival are the dummies and books produced during Folio, PhMuseum’s Masterclass dedicated to the photobook world, as well as the usual collective exhibition issued from the open call around the theme, and featuring works by 40 photographers. Additionally, there will be solo exhibitions at GALLLERIAPIÙ, Cassero Lgbti+ Center, and on the public billboards curated by CHEAP, with more details soon to be disclosed.
A collaboration with Portofino Dry Gin is part of the program as well, this year inviting artist Martina Giammaria (Italy, 1976) to address the Festival’s theme having Portofino as a set for her conceptual research. The show will be presented in September in Condominio’s spaces in Milan.
PhMuseum Days 2023 is organised by PhMuseum, realised with the support of Bologna’s Municipality and part of Bologna Estate 2023. The panel of activities is promoted and coordinated by Bologna’s Municipality and Metropolitan City – Bologna-Modena’s Touristic Territory. The initiative counts the patronage of Bologna Welcome and a cultural partnership with Photo Vogue Festival.
Find out more on www.phmuseumdays.com