February Festivals Guide

The Chobi Mela International Festival of Photography, Gulf Photo Plus Photo Week, Exposure Photography Festival, UNLESS YOU WILL symposium, Month of Photography Los Angeles, Circulation(s), and Rotterdam Photo Festival are among the most exciting events on the photography calendar this month. Read on to learn more about their exhibitions and supporting programs.

Chobi Mela International Festival of Photography / Dhaka, Bangladesh / 3 - 16 February

© Donald Weber, from the series Interrogations

The ninth edition of the Chobi Mela International Festival of Photography, held every two years in Dhaka, Bangladesh, is set to open on February 3rd. Since its inception back in 2010, the event has developed into a highlight on the Asian cultural calendar, put together by Drik Picture Library Ltd. and Pathshala South Asian Media Institute.

Under the curatorship of ASM Rezaur Rahman, Mahbubur Rahman, Munem Wasif, Tanzim Wahab and Shahidul Alam, the theme this year is ‘Transition.’ Chobi Mela IX will feature more than 30 exhibitions, the standout of which are Dear Chris, Katrin Koenning; How to Disappear Completely: THE POEMS, Boris Eldagsen; Interrogations, Donald Weber; Stardust, Debashish Chakrabarty; Algeria, Scrapbooks, Bruno Boudjelal; Red String, Yoshikatsu Fujii; The Afronauts, Cristina de Middel; Deceitful Reverence, Igor Pisuk; and Blue Sky Days by PHM 2015 Grant winner Tomas van Houtryve.

The festival is also, for the first time, commissioning ten Bangladeshi artists to produce site-specific artworks that explore the notion of ‘Transition’; an initiative that aims to support and nurture new media creatives. A number of workshops hosted by photo practitioners from all around the world and a series portfolio reviews complete the public program. To learn more, visit chobimela.org.


Gulf Photo Plus Photo Week / Dubai / 10 - 17 February

© Natalie Naccache, from the series Our Limbo

Packed full of exhibitions, photo walks, movie screenings, artist talks and other public events, GPP Photo Week is designed to inspire, challenge, and connect photographers from around the world.

The primary exhibitions this year include Take the Shot, a group show delving into the possibilities of photography through different genres; Humanæ, Angélica Dass’ portrayal of the chromatic colour range of the human skin; Inherit the Dust, an exploration into the juxtaposition of the world’s vanishing natural ecosystems and expanding urban environments by Nick Brandt; Under Construction: Fences of the UAE, a project by Hussain Al Moosawi that demonstrates how even humble fences can offer a lesson in freedom and expression; and thráfsma, a mixed media examination of memory and reality by Sara Lando.

A series of intensive workshops hosted by leading names in the industry further enriches the public program: Asim Rafiqui will take students into the streets of Dubai and teach them the fundamentals of street work; Davide Monteleone will analyse the composition, lighting and inspiration behind his own photographs to guide students step by step in taking portraits; and Maggie Steber – the mentor to the PHM 2017 Grant New Generation Prize winner – will run a six-day course that concentrates on finding new approaches to stories and ideas that have been photographed repeatedly. For more information, visit gulfphotoplus.com.


Exposure Photography Festival / Alberta, Canada / 1 - 28 February

© Leslie Hossack, from the series REGISTERED: The Japanese Canadian Experience

From 1 – 28 February, Exposure Photography Festival will take over Alberta, Canada, and generate participation in, and engagement with, photographic image making. “Like photography itself, Exposure embraces a broad audience, including beginners and experienced image makers, amateurs and professionals, and photographers of all ages and interest levels” explain the organisers. A number of museums, independent gallery spaces, and alternative venues across the city will present a rich program that celebrates photography from near and far. The exhibition highlights this year are Registered: The Japanese Canadian Experience and H-Hour, Normandy 1944 by Leslie Hossack; Alberta Through the Back Door, a show that brings together the work of three photographers challenging an increasingly complicated vision of Alberta; Sarah Fuller’s Camouflage (Hulinhjálmsteinn), which explores mimicry and camouflage as a way to assimilate into a foreign landscape; and InFocus Exhibit 2017, a showcase of 26 up-and-coming photographers from Canada.

A presentation by Diana Thorneycroft, a series of portfolio reviews with influential members of the industry, and a collection of artist talks with Luis Fabini, Amar Athwal, and Whyte Museum’s Curator of Photography, Craig Richards round up the supporting events. Discover more at exposurephotofestival.com.


UNLESS YOU WILL - Symposium / Australia / 17 - 19 February 

© Mustafah Abdulaziz, from the series Water

Online photography magazine, Unless You Will is set to host a weekend of conversations, inspiration, and insights. The symposium, say the organisers, “seeks to cultivate interaction and connection in photography, and further visibilities.” It is a space for the photographic community “to share different practices, gain insights into other artists’ work and inspire critical discussion around emerging trends and ideas in photography and visual culture” they add. Alana Holmberg (Australian documentary photographer), Brandon Thibodeaux (member of the photography collective MJR), Lars Boering (Executive Director at World Press Photo), Katrin Koenning (German artist), Mustafah Abdulaziz (US documentary photographer), and Dr. Kristian Häggblom (independent curator and educator) are among the speakers. 16 photographers (selected through an open call) will also have the opportunity to present a dummy book or photo series to a number of publishing experts and leading photobook creatives. Learn more at unlessyouwill.com.


Month of Photography Los Angeles / US / 12 January - 12 February

© Daniel Castro Garcia

Month of Photography Los Angeles is once again celebrating the photographic medium through a variety of events that are designed to inspire and invigorate professionals and enthusiasts alike. MOPLA’s mission is two-fold say the curators – “to advance dynamic programming designed to engage and stimulate the photography community, as well as to present a comprehensive resource of exhibitions and events.”

#girlgaze: a frame of mind (Annenberg Space for Photography), TV On Film (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), Breaking News: Turning the Lens on Mass Media (The J. Paul Getty Museum), Timeframe L.A. (Contact Photo Lab), After the Audition: Michael Grecco (Leica Gallery), 'you’re your Breath’ by Arden Surdam (Sloan Projects), and Jay Maisel: 60 Years of Photography (Pop-up Gallery) are among the standout exhibitions this year.

A number of artist conversations and Pro'jekt LA, MOPLA's very own projection series to be displayed on the walls and outdoor spaces of Los Angeles, further add to the public program. Visit monthofphotography.com to find out more.


Rotterdam Photo Festival / Rotterdam, Netherlands / 9 - 12 February

© Stacii Samidin, from the series Societies

Organised by the Daguerre Foundation and More Productions, Rotterdam Photo Festival takes place within Art Week Rotterdam and showcases the work of both local and international image-makers. Among those showing their work this year are Esther Hemmer, Rutger Prins, Sarka Vancurova, Pascale Hustings, Nicoline Rodenburg, Monique Baan, Marinka Masséus, Katja Poelwijk, Iris Janssen, Hielke Zevenbergen, Goran Turnšek, Stacii Samidin and Sophie de Vos.

A series of fringe events comprised of unique hands-on workshops and panel discussions spread around the pop-up exhibition containers further augments the program. Discover more at rotterdamphotofestival.com.


Circulation(s) / Paris, France / 21 January - 5 March

© Sonja Hamad, from the series Jin - Jiyan - Azadi

Circulation(s) festival is dedicated to the dissemination of European photographic diversity and it acts as a springboard from which young talents can launch their careers. The main goal of the festival is to widen ideas and experiences through the exhibition of visual artists from across the world. The primary shows this year are Sanne de Wilde, The Island of the Colorblind; Michele Borzoni, Looking for a Job; Sam Ivin, Lingering Ghosts; Sonja Hamad, Jin - Jiyan - Azadi (women, life, freedom) - The female Kurdish freedom fighters; Martin Errichiello and Filippo Menichetti, In Quarta Persona; Mafalda Rakos, I want to disappear; Wiktoria Wojciechowska, Sparks; Theodor Papadakis, Home Again; Sasha Maslov, Veterans: Faces of World War II, and Corentin Fohlen, Lumane Casimir. A collection of supporting events including Little Circulation(s), an exhibition solely for children, rounds up the program. Go to festival-circulations.com for further information.

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