02 April 2020

April's Photo Festivals

02 April 2020 - Written by Simon Hall

Despite these tough and uncertain times for public events across the world, many photo festivals are responding by producing online content or rearranging their opening dates for later in the year. Here we look at the actions taken by those originally scheduled to open in April.

World Press Photo Festival / Amsterdam, The Netherlands / Cancelled

© Nikita Teryoshin, from the series Nothing Personal - The Back Office of War

The World Press Photo Festival is one of the highlights on the photography calendar, renowned for its dedication to showcasing different perspectives on the stories that matter through a varied program of events. The decision was made to cancel this year's edition and supporting Awards Show in early March when it became clear social distancing was an important step in stopping the spread of Covid-19. The winners of the 2020 Photo Contest and the 2020 Digital Storytelling Contest - including the winner of the World Press Photo of the Year and the three other major awards - will be announced on the evening of 16 April and presented to a global audience through a wide range of online and media channels. The nominees for those awards can be seen on the WPPh website.

Fotografia Europea / Reggio Emilia, Italy / Postponed - new dates yet to be announced

© Anna Szkoda

Fotografia Europea was set to take over the northern Italian town of Reggio Emilia once again this April with a program centred around the theme of Fantasies. Stories, rules, inventions. The festival would have included a solo show by Anna Szkoda, awarded as part of the PHmuseum 2019 Women Photographers Grant prizes. Atlas by Alessandra Baldoni, Valparaiso by Francesco Merlini, and The Denial I – Family Portrait by Alexia Fiasco were also part of the program. The organisers continue to look for new dates on which they can open.

Kyotographie / Kyoto, Japan / Postponed - 19 September to 18 October

© Wing Shya

Set against the backdrop of Kyoto in spring, Kyotographie is one of the truly international artistic events held in Japan, founded upon a vision of fostering an appreciation of photography as a medium and art form. In a varied and balanced program, valuable collections and works by renowned visual storytellers are exhibited in elegant, historical buildings as well as modern architectural spaces. Originally in the calendar to run from mid-April to mid-May, the festival has already selected new dates and will now be held from 19 September to 18 October.

Capture Photography Festival / Vancouver, Canada / Digital content here

© Gohar Dashti, from the series Dissonance

Held annually in the western Canadian city of Vancouver, Capture Photography Festival is a platform committed to the dissemination of challenging and thought-provoking photography from both local and international artists. Following their decision to cancel the event, the organisers and curators are creating a series of digital content pieces to help audiences get a sense of what they had planned. They have also released a digital version of the catalogue and readers are encouraged to check the websites of participating galleries for the most up-to-date information on independently produced events.

Biennale für aktuelle Fotografie / Mannheim, Germany / Digital content here

© Josh Murfitt, from the series A Creative Act

Having opened on 29 February to great acclaim, Biennale für aktuelle Fotografie was forced to close its doors on 17 March. The six thematic exhibitions that together look to explore how photography has come to symbolise the extremes of contemporary society have all been moved online and are available to view courtesy of virtual reality tours. Works by Joan Fontcuberta, Sohrab Hura, Josh Murfitt, Kensuke Koike, Max Pinckers, Bryan Schutmaat, Nick Waplington, and Sherrie Levine all feature. The lecture series focused on the relationship between artistic photography and science has also been cancelled, yet all previous discussions were recorded and can be watched on the YouTube channel of Heidelberg University.

Circulation(s) European Young Photography Festival / Paris, France / Digital content here

© Vera Hadzhiyska, from the series With the Name of a Flower

Over the last decade, Circulation(s) festival has evolved into an innovative laboratory of contemporary European creativity and one of the must-attend photography events on the calendar. The event was cancelled on the eve of the official opening following the lockdown measures implemented by the French prime minister. Instead, the festival organisers and all 45 participating artists are collaborating to deliver an epistolary online project in the form of an artistic telegram. From Minsk to Berlin, Paris to Helsinki, and London to Barcelona, photographers are sharing pictures and inviting other artists to share their news to maintain the creative link that unites visual storytellers across Europe. You can follow their updates via the festival’s Instagram page.

Fotofest Biennial - African Cosmologies / Houston, United States / Cancelled

© Yan Wang Preston, from the series Forest

First founded back in 1983, FotoFest Biennial is dedicated to promoting international awareness of museum-quality photographic and new media art from around the world. Under the curatorship of Mark Sealy – the director of art institution Autograph ABP – the festival this year looked to examine the complex relationships between contemporary life in Africa, the African diaspora, and global histories of colonialism, photography, and rights and representation. For now, all the exhibition and public events have been closed. You can stay in touch with the festival’s updates through their digital and social media channels.

Italian Street Photo Festival / Rome, Italy / Digital content here

© Sakulchai Sikitikal

Organised by Officine Fotografiche - a recognised non-profit photography association based in Rome – ISPF is the first festival dedicated to street photography in Italy, providing a space for professionals, enthusiasts, and amateurs to investigate the contemporary identity of the medium. The third edition was originally scheduled to be held between 24 and 26 April and was slated to be the largest, richest, and most important in its short history. Since the inevitable cancellation, the curators have decided to bring all the content online. “We will “infect” you with our creativity and enthusiasm and together, along with all of you, we will overcome this hurdle” they write.


Visit our festivals page to get a full view of what’s on the photography calendar this year.

Written by

Simon Hall

Reading time

7 minutes

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