29 June 2017

July Festivals Guide

29 June 2017 - Written by Simon Hall

Cortona On The Move (Italy) and Les Rencontres de la Photographie (France) open their doors this coming month. Learn more about two of the most important festivals of the year and other events on the calendar this July.

Cortona On The Move / Tuscany, Italy / 13 July - 1 October

© Sandra Mehl, from the series, Ilona and Maddelena

From 13 July to 1 October, the Tuscan town of Cortona will transform into a stage for contemporary photography, hosting exhibitions and cultural initiatives that together celebrate both the great masters and young emerging talents. “In the embrace of the ancient walls and the evocative atmosphere of unique locations, visitors will be able to lay eyes on so many pictures and reflect upon the present, discovering something more about the world around them, and probably something of themselves” say the curators.

Among the 20 official exhibitions, Donna Ferrato has a retrospective featuring work from her domestic violence, personal, and swingers’ archives; Adam Ferguson showcases The Afghans, a series of portraits taken on the streets of Kabul that attempt to show a population caught in a state of uncertainty; Sandra Mehl presents Ilona and Maddelena - the project awarded the PHM 2017 Grant Cortona OTM Prize; Farshid Tighehsaz exposes his project From Labyrinth, which delves into the effects of the Islamic revolution and the impact of 8 years of war on its later generations; and Justyna Mielnikiewicz explores the concept of borders as ever-changing spheres of influence in The Meaning of a Nation.

Among the supporting events, COTM has partnered with the Canon Academy to present a number of Summer School workshops, each offering technical and creative tutoring under the guidance of leading contemporary photographers. A series of portfolio reviews hosted by a selected panel of industry experts including PHmuseum Director, Giuseppe Oliverio, Monica Allende (Format and Getxo Photo), Alice Gabriner (Time), Sarah Leen (National Geographic), and Jenna Pirog (The New York Times Magazine) rounds up the festival’s program. Learn more at and join the festival's international guest during the opening weekend on 13-16 July. 

Les Rencontres de la Photographie / Arles, France / 3 July - 24 September

© Ester Vonplon, from the series, How Much Time Remains of Finitude

Founded in 1970, the Rencontres d’Arles has become the benchmark international photography festival, gaining a reputation for its policy of programming that almost exclusively favors new, unpublished work. The exhibitions, often co-curated by both French and foreign museums, are hosted by various sites of cultural heritage including 12th century chapels and 19th century industrial spaces.

In his festival statement, director Sam Stourdzé writes of the 2017 edition: “More than ever, we need artists and their ability to capture the apt time. Artists participate in decrypting, in contextualising, in making new forms of writing emerge; and the festival amplifies their voices, transcribes their simple, efficient, and ambitious program: to see the world as it is, as it could be, as it ought to be.” The exhibition program this year features Life in Cities, Michael Wolf; Road to Death, Christophe Rihet; The Habit of Being, Kate Barry; Monsanto: A Photographic Investigation, Mathieu Asselin; Drowning World, Gideon Mendel; La Vuelta – 28 Colombian Photographers, The Dynamics of Dust, Philippe Dudouit; and How Much Time Remains of Finitude, Ester Vonplon.

Throughout the festival, a dense program of workshops offers emerging photographers an opportunity to learn from leading figures in the industry – Roger Ballen, Éric Bouvet, Christian Caujolle, and Antoine D’Agata are among those hosting – and during the opening week, more than 120 experts will be available for portfolio reviews. For further information, visit

PHotoEspaña / Madrid, Spain / 31 May - 27 August

© Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb, from the series, Slant Rhymes

Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, PHotoEspaña is a dynamic showcase of contemporary photography and visual culture telling stories with international narratives. Under the directorship of María García Yelo, this latest installment reviews the past two decades of photography and looks ahead to what the future may bring. “The festival is part of a changing world” the organisers declare. “In these years, photography has undergone massive developments. The digital world has given a new dimension both to Art and to the way of communicating it and of presenting itself in society” they add.

The primary exhibitions include Mathematics, Peter FraserCuba, Elliott ErwittLittle Black Dress, Yolanda DomínguezWatkins, The Landscapes of the United StatesThe Best Photobooks of the Year; Office Romance, Kathy RyanBarro Rojo, Javier Marquerie1,800 Millimetres, Emi AnrakujiIntrospective, Roger BallenJosé Manuel Ferrater, Portrait and Fashion Photographs 1980-2011Life in Motion, Christian Voigt; and Slant Rhymes, Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb.

Running in parallel, Trasatlántica - the festival’s forum of cross-cultural dialogue - has collaborated with the Spanish Agency for Development to present a number of activities and initiatives that promote and disseminate exchanges between Iberian-American experts and photographers. A series of workshops, open-air projections, photo walks, masterclasses, and roundtable discussions complete the program. Discover more at



Fotografia Europea / Reggio Emilia, Italy / until 9 July

Athens Photo Festival / Athens, Greece / until 30 July


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Written by

Simon Hall

Reading time

6 minutes

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