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03 December 2020

December's Best Photo Festivals

03 December 2020 - Written by Simon Hall

As the year draws to a close, Photo Kathmandu (Nepal) and PhotoNOLA (United States) join the Singapore International Photography Festival (Singapore) and LagosPhoto Festival (Nigeria) among the best festivals to explore this December. Find out what they have in store.

Photo Kathmandu / Kathmandu, Nepal / Opening Week: 3 - 9 December

© Monica Alcazar-Duarte, from the series The New Colonists

Organised by photo.circle, Photo Kathmandu was established to provide photographers and other practitioners working in the visual medium with the time and space to come together to describe the world and discuss poignant issues with shared concern and agency. PhotoKTM 4 will be held predominantly online via zoom video calls and looks to build on ideas of assemblage and collectivisation by presenting several collaborative artistic, research, and pedagogic initiatives that will feed into on-going local campaigns.

Among the program highlights, Prasiit Sthapit will showcase his latest project Red is the Colour of Spring that explores the promise of justice and the hopes and heartbreak that shape revolution and reconciliation; Monica Alcazar-Duarte will host an artist talk during which she will discuss her work focused on the human relationship with nature and our current use of technology and science as an attempt to gain control over it; and curators Aziz Sohail (Pakistan), Sumitra Sunder (India), and Diwas Raja Kc (Nepal) will bring together practitioners from across South Asia to open up new perspectives on queer art practice and posit them in a regional archive that serves as a site of collectivity, speculation, and creation.

Elsewhere, in the supporting program, the festival is offering a series workshops, seminars, discussion groups, and guided tours in an effort to open up possibilities for teaching and learning about festival themes and the world at large. Also this year, an incredibly diverse pool of professionals including the likes of Emma Bowkett (FT Weekend Magazine), Sarker Protick (Independent photographer), Noelle Flores Théard (Magnum Foundation), Newsha Tavakolian (Independent photographer), and Chelsea Matiash (The New York Times) have volunteered their time to meet with younger practitioners for portfolio review sessions. To learn more about what’s on, visit photoktm.com.


PhotoNOLA / New Orleans, United States / 5 - 13 December

© Rania Matar. 2020 exhibitor

Held in New Orleans, Louisiana, PhotoNOLA is an annual celebration of photography that seeks to develop a dialogue around the importance of the photographic medium through a series of diverse events. The 2020 program will take place in independent gallery spaces, alternative cultural venues, and digitally in the form of online artist talks, workshops, and seminars.

In the exhibition line-up this year, José Torres-Tama chronicles the Latin American reconstruction workers who have rebuilt New Orleans in the 15 years post-Katrina; A.R. Havel takes viewers behind the ragged velvet curtain and showcases collaborative maximalist portraits that spotlight theater and queer kinship; Sara Madandar serves a critique of the enforced veiling of women that she grew up with in Iran and examines how power structures can be read in the choices, habits, and tastes of individuals; and Ashleigh Coleman documents her own life as well as that of her three small children while they navigate growing up together in rural America.

PhotoNOLA has also organised a collection of supporting events, among which Rania Matar will host an artist talk in which she will discuss how her cross-cultural experience and personal narrative as a Lebanese-born American woman inform her photography; Jeff Phillips will run a comprehensive three-part workshop that will empower participants to publish a zine from ideation to creation; Mary Virginia Swanson will lead an illustrated lecture introducing strategies for using social media platforms including Instagram to engage followers in creative practice; and an extensive portfolio review program offers photographers the chance to present their work to influential members of the photographic community. Learn more at photonola.org.

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ALSO OPEN THIS MONTH:

LagosPhoto Festival / Lagos, Nigeria / 24 October - 19 December

Launched back in 2010, LagosPhoto is a platform dedicated to the dissemination of contemporary photography that aims to unite emerging African artists with established industry professionals from around the world. The festival is designed to encapsulate individual experiences and identities across the African continent and is embodied in the exploration of historical and contemporary issues as well as the sharing of cultural practices. The central theme this year is Rapid Response Restitution, a concept developed by Azu Nwagbogu and Dr. Clémentine Deliss in collaboration with guest curator and Nigerian cultural historian Dr. Oluwatoyin Sogbesan. “With Rapid Response Restitution, LagosPhoto20 takes an unusual and participatory approach to current discussions on the return of Africa’s cultural heritage back to the continent,” they write.

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Singapore International Photography Festival / Singapore / 13 November - 30 January

The Singapore International Photography Festival is a biennial gathering of minds from around the world with the common pursuit of advancing the art and appreciation of photography. It aims to be a much-needed arena for critical thought and academic discussion on photography in Southeast Asia and functions as a key platform to discover, nurture, and propel Southeast Asian photographers onto the international stage. SIPF20 is centered around the subject of Departing and Arriving and will provide a sojourn into our sense of belonging and identities amid current uncertainties. The exhibition highlights include Kevin WY Lee’s presentation of black and white photographs taken on a family road trip to his father’s home rice-farming village in southern China in 2012; Liu Ying’s meditation on how perfectionist living habits that are intended to bring about a degree of cleanliness can ultimately be counterproductive; and Seba Kurtis’ response to two incidents where refugees lost their lives amidst the arduous journey to safety.

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Photolux Festival / Lucca, Italy / 12 December - 3 January

Set in the Tuscan town of Lucca on the Serchio river, Photolux Festival sits at a crossroads of exchange for prominent photographers and emerging talents with a focus on showcasing innovative artistic approaches to visual storytelling. The exhibitions on display this year collectively bring together new perspectives on age-old subjects and shed light on critical concerns at the forefront of modern society. Among the highlights, Rocco Rorandelli documents the impact of the tobacco industry on health, the economy, and the environment; the World Press Photo travelling exhibition offers an overview of how press photographers tackle their work around the globe and how the press relates news through images; and the Archivio Fotografico Lucchese “A.Fazzi” brings together materials relating to the pandemic and reveals - through images - how this was experienced and felt by the territory of Lucca.

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Check out our festivals page to get a complete view of what's coming up on the photography calendar over the next few months.

Written by

Simon Hall

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