Introducing The Next Getxophoto Festival

  • Published
    6 Mar 2023
  • Author
  • Topics Festivals

We talked with Getxophoto artistic directors, Luca Janto and Jokin Aspuru, as well as Maria Ptqk, the festival's new guest curator, who will select one PhMuseum 2023 Photography Grant submission for a solo exhibition at the next edition of their festival.

Since 2007, Getxophoto has added diverse photography and one-of-a-kind exhibits to the city of Getxo in the Basque Country (Spain).

The next Getxophoto will premiere in June 2023 under the curatorship of Maria Ptqk. She will take over after Jon Uriarte and undertake the demanding task of exhibiting works by international artists all across the festival's multiple venues and outdoor locations. In accordance with the programme, Maria will choose one project among those submitted for the PhMuseum 2023 Photography Grant to get a solo exhibition, as well as a €400 artist fee and accommodations for two nights during the Opening Week. Here, Luca, Jokin and Maria discuss the planning required for such a varied event and what to look forward to at the festival this year.

In 2023 Getxophoto will inaugurate its 17th. How do you think the event evolved in those years? 

Lucía Janto & Jokin Aspuru (Getxophoto Artistic Directors) Several years have passed since the Festival was founded and photography has obviously changed since then. One of the changes to be highlighted is that Getxophoto began as a photography festival and for some years now it has been an "image" festival. That is to say that, although photography -understood in a classical sense- has a great weight in the programme, the Festival also embraces other forms of contemporary visual expression. Getxophoto includes purely digital projects, memes, videos, apps, and performances, among others. On the other hand, the evolution of a festival involves its professionalisation in terms of its proposal, its nature, its objectives... For example, the Festival has not wanted to grow either in the volume of exhibitions or in the number of participating artists (20-25) and has remained practically the same size since its beginnings. We have preferred not to grow and to take care of the quality of the projects and artists, and to keep producing an approachable and digestible proposal for the public every year.

Another aspect in which evolution has been noted is in the development of mediation programmes for the different audiences that Getxophoto reaches. This is due to the fact that the Festival has a very important popular dimension, a closeness to different types of local audiences and, at the same time, has been developing specific actions with specialised and international audiences. Perhaps one of the most important functions of a festival is its capacity to generate links, and this idea continues to guide the Festival's mediation programme.

What do you think are your main challenges as the new curator? 


Maria Ptqk (Getxophoto Guest Curator) Getxophoto is much more than a photo festival. I see it rather as a context in which one can address some key aspects of contemporary society through the prism of photography and image. Which also leads to the discussion on the role of images in the social realm, being as we are an image-centered society. What is the status of visual imagery today? How does it contribute to shaping and critically reflecting on the world we live in? And because of that, another important aspect of the Festival is to be significant both for artists and professionals, and for anyone interested in the present because it has this specificity of being at the same time an international festival and a key cultural event in its territory in Getxo, very cherished by the inhabitants.

What are the methodologies and research strategies involved in the curatorial production of a festival like Getxophoto? The chosen theme is PAUSE! can you give us a sneaky peek into what we can expect from the 2023 program? 


Maria Ptqk The structure developed through the years by the artistic direction is very smart because it leads to high diversity in the final selection. Some artworks come for an international call with an international jury, so you get to know artists from all over the world, with different backgrounds and different approaches to the theme, which opens up its meaning beyond what you have initially imagined. Other are selected through a collaboration with photo schools in Spain which gives us access to artists from a younger generation, with their own concerns and sensitivities. Same for the collaboration with PhMuseum, which is yet another source of inspiration. So all these inputs and collaborations widen the scope of the curatorial research and make it more conversational and rich. This is extremely valuable for me since my career path as a curator is deeply transdisciplinary so I try to have an eye on practices that evolve across disciplines but also across imaginaries and narratives.

Concerning the theme of the 2023´s edition, under the title PAUSE! we want to reflect upon the culture of hyper-productivity and efficiency today, when even moments of leisure and rest are supposed to be useful. The fear of missing out (FOMO), the duty of being always connected, the culture of speed and immediacy… We want to make a statement for unproductivity and de-growth, and to foster the discussion on what it means to “waste your time” really.

The festival takes place in Getxo, a town by the sea in the autonomous community of the Basque Country in Spain. What influence do the location itself and the inhabitants have on the festival? What are the main advantages for both artists and visitors who attend an event in such an atmosphere?

Maria Ptqk Getxo is crucial to the identity of the Festival. It is a pleasant suburban area, close to the city of Bilbao but with a completely different personality. The seaside, the old port, and the traditional architecture… make it a rather relaxed and welcoming spot. This atmosphere together with the middle-size scale of the town and the proximity to a city with a vibrant contemporary art scene make it very convenient for encounters and exchanges, both for the artists among them and with the visitors, either professional agents or the wider audience. Also, in Getxophoto most of the artworks are displayed in the public space so, during the length of the Festival (one month), they become part of the daily landscape of the inhabitants which, I believe, enhances their impact in a way that is not possible in a closed space. All this adds to the singularity of the experience, whether you come as a participating artist or as a visitor.

You will select a work from the PhMuseum 2023 Photography Grant submissions to be shown in the new edition of Getxophoto. How do you think the awarded photographer will benefit from the exhibition and what will be relevant for you when judging the works? 

Maria Ptqk The artworks selected are not just part of a program, in the sense of a plain list of names and titles, but are embedded in a narrative involving a wide set of projects as well as the environment, in the sense that I have mentioned. So I believe this enlarges the scope of the works and the opportunities that come with an exhibition. The awarded photograph will show his or her work in a curated context, where it will be very well taken care of, but will also take part in coral storytelling, in a collective discussion.

How the collaboration with the chosen artist will be structured? 


Lucía Janto & Jokin Aspuru Firstly, the choice of the artist and their work depends on their suitability to the theme of each edition. The versatility and adaptability of the projects are also qualities to be taken into account, as the Festival does not have "white cubes" and the works are mainly exhibited in public spaces and in unconventional places and formats. For this reason, once a project has been selected, a conversation begins with the artist choosing one of the spaces proposed by the curator and the organisation, as well as the selection of images, etc. All artists who participate in Getxophoto receive a fee and support for their travel and accommodation, and the organisation covers the production costs of the exhibition.

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María Ptqk (1976) holds a PhD in artistic research from the University of the Basque Country, a degree in Law and a degree in Economics, a Master of Advanced Studies in International Public Law from Paris II-Sorbonne and in Cultural Law from the Uned-Carlos III in Madrid, and a Master in Cultural Management from the University of Barcelona. Her work is based on the intersections between art, technoscience and feminism and is a member of the advisory group of the publishing house consonni. She has worked with a number of leading institutions such as Medialab Prado (Madrid), Azkuna Zentroa (Bilbao), Fundación Daniel y Nina Carasso, CCCB (Barcelona), Jeu de Paume (Paris), La Gaité Lyrique (Paris), GenderArtNet (European Cultural Foundation) or LABoral (Gijon), among others.

GETXOPHOTO International Image Festival takes place in Getxo (Basque Country, Spain) since 2007. The Festival brings different proposals from photographers and visual storytellers from all over the world to the city, setting a contemporary conversation about a different proposed theme each year. The theme for the new edition is PAUSE!

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The PhMuseum Photography Grant has established itself as a leading prize in the industry over the past ten years, renowned for celebrating the importance of contemporary photography and supporting the careers of emerging artists through monetary prizes and various opportunities across international festivals and online media. You are welcome to present your work before 16 February 2023 at 11.59 pm (GMT). Learn more and apply at phmuseum.com/g23.

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