27 June 2019

July's Best Photo Festivals

27 June 2019 - Written by Simon Hall

Two of the main highlights on the photography festival calendar – Cortona On The Move (Italy) and Les Rencontres de la Photographie (France) – open their doors next month, welcoming many of the industry’s most prominent figures. Learn all about their exhibition programs and supporting events.

Cortona On The Move / Cortona, Italy / 11 July - 29 September

© Andrea Botto, 2019 exhibitor

Founded back in 2011, international photography festival Cortona On The Move has evolved into one of the industry’s most dynamic and wide-ranging events, continually bringing new creative talents and novel forms of visual communication into the spotlight. Under the artistic directorship of Arianna Rinaldo, the festivals aims to serve as a reference point, not only for accomplished photographers and amateurs alike, but also for diverse audiences that are attentive to contemporary cultural trends and the ongoing transformation of the visual language.

This year’s focus will take shape around mankind and the landscape. “Nature and environment are key words nowadays” writes Arianna. “The land is a central element in human life, both in the realm of urgent ecological issues that need to be solved, and in relation to the world’s social and economic situation. Humankind’s history is traced in the landscape; nature is marked by it, often wounded; the land shows signs of belonging and passage. The environment, for better or for worse, records humanity’s action and becomes a witness of history.” Among the exhibition highlights, Nadia Bseiso takes a look at how significant geopolitical changes have transformed the make-up of the Middle East for centuries to come; Yan Wang Preston explores the practice of recreating forests in newly-built Chinese cities; Paolo Verzone documents the everyday reality of inhabitants living in one of the world’s northernmost communities; Nanna Heitmann captures immemorial people who have sought protection and freedom on the banks of the Yenisei River in Russia; and Diana Markosian focuses on the subject of immigration through the perspective of one family: her own.

In the supporting events, Liza Faktor returns for a second year running to curate the ARENA – Video and Beyond program that brings together film, installation, and trans-media works about the human condition; the winners of the PHmuseum 2019 Photography Grant will feature in a special projection; Magnum photographer Jérôme Sessini will be hosting a two-day workshop investigating the relationship between veracity and personal interpretation; and Peggy Sue Amison (Artistic Director, East Wing), MaryAnn Camilleri (Founder The Magenta Foundation), Giulia Ticozzi (Photo editor, La Repubblica), and Andreas Trampe (Director of photography, Stern magazine) are among the experts leading a series of portfolio reviews. The festival’s opening weekend (Thursday 11 – Sunday 14 July) will also see many of the industry’s top professionals active throughout Cortona participating in a range of public events. To learn more and buy tickets, visit

Les Rencontres de la Photographie / Arles, France / 1 July - 22 September

© Ouka Leele, 2019 exhibitor

Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, Les Rencontres de la Photographie is a major photography institution, playing the role of trendsetter and acting as a springboard for contemporary visual storytellers. “The original aims remain unchanged” declares festival director Sam Stourdzé. “Arles is still where careers are launched, discoveries made, manifestoes proclaimed and where bold exhibits as well as unexpected venues consistently challenge ways of showing photography.” This year, in tribute to the founders’ trailblazing spirit, the curators have devised a busy program to acknowledge a jubilee of an adventure that has lost none of its vibrancy and insightfulness in half a century.

The exhibitions will fall under four main themes, namely My Body Is a Weapon, On the Edge, Inhabiting and Building the Image. Together they look to shed light on a world in upheaval where the image often plays a key role as witness or actor. Some of the major attractions include Evangelia Kranioti’s examination of the borderlines of the world and the individual destinies caught up in the net of global trade; Pixy Liao’s investigation into how national culture influences and dictates interactions in a romantic relationship; Philippe Chancel’s research-based work that delves into the sensitive areas of our planet and the most alarming symptoms of its decline; and Marina Gadonneix’s documentation of scientific research spaces which analyse and reconstitute meteorological and astrophysical phenomena. Elsewhere, a group show featuring the likes of Juno Calypso, Natasha Caruana, Edmund Clark, Karen Knorr, and Martin Parr takes a look at the everyday life of Britain from the 1970s to the present day; Máté Bartha presents a visual exploration of military-themed summer camps organised by the Hungarian NGO Home Defense School; and Stacy Kranitz offers a window into the Appalachian region devastated by the coal industry that took valuable resources from the land and left the people who lived there impoverished. Steeve Bauras, David de Beyter, Alys Tomlinson, Meryl McMaster, and Hanako Murakami are also among the names on display.

Away from the exhibitions, at the core of Les Rencontres de la Photographie lies an extensive and multi-layered collection of supporting events and initiatives. A dense program of workshops will take place all summer long hosted by the likes of Françoise Huguier, Klavdij Sluban, Antoine d'Agata, Machiel Botman, Guillaume Herbaut, Cédric Gerbehaye, and Christian Caujolle; more than 130 industry experts will be present in Arles to conduct portfolio reviews; and Temple Arles Books will provide a space where publishers, artists, institutions, freelancers, enthusiasts and visitors can network and discuss the evolution of the photobook as an art form. The festival’s famed opening week (Monday 1 – Sunday 7 July) will once again welcome industry professionals from all over the world for a series of projections, panel discussions, exhibition tours, book signings, meetings, parties and much more. Find out more at

Ragusa Photo Festival / Sicily, Italy / 26 July - 25 August

© Sam Harris, from the series The Middle of Somewhere. 2019 exhibitor

Every summer since 2012, Ragusa Foto Festival has taken over the historical Sicilian town of Ibla to provide a space for the diffusion of contemporary photography with a particular focus placed on young photographers from the Mediterranean. The title of the 2019 edition, Intersezioni (Intersections), summarises the direction the festival is taking and looks to consider the changing cultural, social, and familial fabric of the twenty-first century. "It does not take much to realise that between photography and family there is an ancient and profound relationship from which one can conduct real anthropological and psychological sessions on the different paths of family history" write the curators. "The choice of the authors on show started from the criterion of representing the multitude of nuances of the definition of family, trying to give importance to aspects that usually find little space in the debate."

The exhibition line-up features six solo shows, among which Sam Harris offers a moving portrait of his daughter's unaffected childhood that reflects their simple existence in a remote corner of southwest Australia; David Chancellor showcases a series of tender and sentimental images of his everyday family life; Daniel W. Coburn examines the family photo album as a part of the visual infrastructure that supports the ideology of the American Dream; and Yvonne De Rosa records the lives of families in Romania and Bosnia and Herzegovina receiving help from the international charity Hope and Homes for Children. Elsewhere, in other standout events, Magnum photographer Ferdinando Scianna presents a selection of 100 family-themed black and white images from his personal archive; Emilia R. Pizzonia displays her objective visual investigation into the subject of abortion in Italy; and Urbanautica Institute have teamed up with the festival's curators to produce a group show exploring the plurality of family definition that includes the likes of Loulou d'Aki, Paola Fiorini, Lorena Morin, Sina Niemeyer, Enrico Sisti, Merve Terzi, and Emily Wiethorn. For further information about the complete program, visit



Ci.CLO Bienal Fotografia do Porto / Porto, Portugal / 16 May – 2 July

How can we contribute to transitioning towards a better adapted and more sustainable society? How can thought and artistic practices creatively expand discourse around these issues and translate thinking into action? These are the questions posed in the first Ci.CLO Bienal Fotografia, a new festival held in Porto, Portugal that seeks to challenge existing cultural, environmental, political and economic contradictions in our contemporary world. The theme of this inaugural edition is Adaptation and Transition, with the programming exploring this dialogic relationship within the current context of the twenty-first-century.


Jakarta International Photo Festival / Jakarta, Indonesia / 25 June - 9 July

Education and Welfare. These are the two missions at the heart of Jakarta International Photo Festival, the newest festival on the circuit and the first in Indonesia. Facilitating a forum in which photographers can exchange ideas; forging connections that are vitally beneficial for Indonesia’s photography ecosystem; and raising general public awareness about the important role photographers play in society – JIPFest is all this and more. Following the result of an open call, there are 36 photographers on display in the main exhibition, including the likes of Elisabetta Zavoli, Florencia Trincheri, Ilias Georgiadis, Irina Unruh, Iris Oppelaar, Jack Lewis, Muhammad Fadli, Swarat Ghosh, and Tim Franco.


Athens Photo Festival / Athens, Greece / 13 June - 28 July

Taking place across June and July at the Benaki Museum, Athens Photo Festival is bringing together emerging and established artists and photographers from around the world, aiming to reflect upon the diversity of the photographic medium and create opportunities for international exchange. The festival has developed into a critical space where the impact of our ever-changing visual culture can be raised and discussed, placing a focus on fostering an understanding of contemporary culture and society through visual storytelling in all its forms. The exhibition program this year is comprised of both solo and group shows, presenting a wide variety of works, ranging from fine art and conceptual to documentary and photojournalism, photo-based installations, performance, interactive and multimedia works.


PhotoIreland Festival / Dublin, Ireland / 1 May - 31 July

The first international event in Ireland dedicated to photography and image-based culture, PhotoIreland Festival has a core focus on raising awareness of both local and international photographers and underlining the work of individuals who have for years been promoting an engagement with the medium. Among the main exhibition program, Luis Alberto Rodriguez presents his new body of work focused on Irish heritage; Nadim Asfar showcases his expansive photographic series of the mountainous Lebanese countryside; and Lucie Khakhoutian, Clare Lyons, and Yvette Monahan feature in a group show that collectively examines the relationship between memory and identity.


PHotoEspaña / Madrid, Spain / 5 June - 1 September

Since its inception in 1998, PHotoEspaña has had a decidedly international vision, focusing both on grand concepts and defined artistic territories. Over the years it has emerged as one of Europe’s finest festivals, showcasing a diverse range of photography across a variety of institutions that together reflects upon the important role of the image. Diana Markosian, Clément Verger, Eduardo Nave, Joel Meyerowitz, and Javier Vallhonrat’s are among the exhibitors in this edition.


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Written by

Simon Hall

Reading time

12 minutes

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