28 May 2020

June's Photo Festivals

28 May 2020 - Written by Simon Hall

Lockdowns and social distancing measures worldwide mean that the photography calendar is still majorly disrupted. Here we examine what the festivals formerly scheduled to open their doors in June are doing in response to the crisis. Featuring Fotofestiwal (Poland), Copenhagen Photo Festival (Denmark), and Athens Photo Festival (Greece).

Fotofestiwal / Łódź, Poland / Postponed

© Máté Bartha, from the series Kontakt

The curators of FotoFestiwal are currently in the process of collecting data, exploring possibilities, and writing alternative scenarios regarding when, and how, the festival will open its doors. “We are working on plan B, C, and D”, they write. “We want photography to reach you and we intend to present to the public what we and the artists have managed to accomplish so far. We want to support authors in these difficult times, and we want to do it wisely.

“We are convinced that this year’s program will be presented to you in the most interesting way possible, but also according to the possibilities, in a safe and responsible manner”, they continue. “If possible, we will meet in Łódź on a different date, for instance in August. Perhaps – partially or entirely – the Internet will be our meeting venue. Maybe some projects will have a completely different form than we planned before? Together with the artists and partners, we are now taking up the challenge which will certainly lead us to valuable conclusions and solutions for the future. Fotofestiwal 2020 will not be the same as usual, but it will be as exceptional as it always is!”

Copenhagen Photo Festival / Copenhagen, Denmark / Cancelled - digital content available

© Ilvy Njiokiktjien, from the series Born Free

With the prolonging of the ban on public gatherings in Denmark, Copenhagen Photo Festival has decided to cancel this year’s festival, scheduled to take place from June 4th to 14th. “We have remained optimistic till the end, but with the current conditions, it is impossible for us to realise this year’s photo festival on the level we aspire to”, writes Managing Director Maja Dyrehauge Gregersen. “We are incredibly sorry on behalf of the many Danish and international photographers and photo-based visual artists who were meant to participate, and on behalf of our many fantastic collaborators, who – like us – have worked hard for months with the planning of exhibitions and activities around Copenhagen and Scania.”

The festival will continue to celebrate photography with its campaign #cpfcelebratingphotography, which has already been launched on the festival’s digital platforms. The campaign consists of works and content from the exhibitions that were planned to be presented in physical form during the festival and represents an international celebration of photography, while also contributing to the exposure of freelancers, artists, and cultural institutions.

Athens Photo Festival / Athens, Greece / Postponed - 16 September to 15 November

© Terje Abusdal, from the series Slash & Burn

Athens Photo Festival and the Benaki Museum – the host venue – have announced that the new dates of the festival this year are 16 September through 15 November. “These new dates give all involved in the organisation of the festival the maximum time to deal with the constantly changing landscape and the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic” write the curators. The new dates, exactly three months after those originally planned for 2020, will provide sufficient time to finish the submission and the selection process, and to prepare the curatorial plan.

When the festival does return in September, visitors can expect an engaging and multi-layered collection of onsite and online events, including a varied exhibition program, educational initiatives offering intensive learning experiences, screenings bringing together multiple perspectives on the use of images, portfolio reviews with international experts, and a series of artist talks.

Jakarta International Photo Festival / Jakarta, Indonesia

© Hoti Simanjuntak

After various discussions with local government, partners, and participants, the organisers of Jakarta International Photo Festival have made the decision to move the festival from 26 June – 12 July to 19 August – 6 September 2020, the new opening of which coincides with World Photography Day. “We are grateful for the continuous support amid this period of uncertainties, and we do hope that the festival will provide a platform of inspiration and motivation – things we universally need to keep our careers, businesses and lives going”, they explain.

While the festival assumes new dates, the location at Kota Tua and the theme of Space remain. “This multi-faceted word has become a symbol of survival in the current physical distancing reality across the world”, writes Festival Director Cristian R. “During the festival, we will practice Space in its literal sense – this includes limiting the number of visitors and providing a safe distance for audience at all programs, while also providing digital platforms to experience the events from anywhere at any time, even in isolation.”



FORMAT20 Off Year / Derby, United Kingdom / Digital content available

© Max Pinckers, from the series Margins of Excess

The FORMAT20 Off Year exhibitions have all been cancelled as the United Kingdom continues to enforce strict social distancing measures but that has not stopped the organisers from delivering great content online. Some of the wonderful FORMAT exhibitions of the past have been transformed into virtual tours, with featured artists including the likes of Brian Griffin, Regine Petersen, John Angerson, Yvette Monahan, Jan Stradtmann, and Max Pinckers. The curatorial team has furthermore taken inspiration from the 1937 Mass Observation project and set up the @massisolationFORMAT initiative that looks to provide a visual record of the crisis as it unfolds on Instagram. You can also re-visit FORMAT19 with a 3D presentation of the festival produced by V21 Artspace and watch videos from the last four biennales on the FORMAT website.

Head On(line) Photo Festival / Sydney, Australia / Digital content available

© Renée C. Byer, from the series Living on a Dollar a Day: The Lives and Faces of the World's Poor

Head On Photo Festival is one of the largest events on the photography calendar. Having already put extraordinary effort into preparing exhibitions and judging award entries, the festival’s director Moshe Rosenzveig was committed to honouring the work done by moving everything online. “Our usual plans for this year’s festival had to be modified at the very last moment within a very short time-frame,” he says. “As we were abruptly forced into social isolation due to COVID-19, it became apparent how important images are to see and understand the surreal world around us. This online format enables so many people to enjoy the festival wherever they are, be it in Sydney, in remote areas of Australia, or overseas.”

Krakow Photomonth Festival / Krakow, Poland / Digital content available

© Gregor Kallina, from the series Iron Heart. 2019 exhibitor

The curators at Krakow Photomonth are billing the 18th edition of the festival as “the longest and most innovative ‘Month’ in history”, all under the tagline 21/05 - ??/??. Together they are working on a new festival formula in which the majority of the events they had originally scheduled, such as lectures, meetings, and guided tours, will now take place online. They launched the festival on 21 May with a series of live streams and artist meetings. Readers are encouraged to check the website regularly for updates about the exhibitions. “When the threat is finally over and it will be possible to meet “live”, we will invite you to Krakow for a toast”, say the curatorial team. “If not in May then in June, if not in June then in July …”


Visit our festivals page to get a full view of what’s on the photography calendar this year.

Written by

Simon Hall

Reading time

8 minutes

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