26 February 2020

March's Best Photo Festivals

26 February 2020 - Written by Simon Hall

The festival season is quickly ramping up, with Circulation(s) European Young Photography Festival (France) and Fotofest Biennial - African Cosmologies (United States) among the highlights on the calendar in March. Learn what exhibitions and supporting events they have in store.

Circulation(s) European Young Photography Festival / Paris, France / 14 March - 10 May

© Vincent Levrat, from the series Outburst. 2020 exhibitor.

Since it was first established back in 2011, Circulation(s) festival has evolved into an innovative laboratory of contemporary European creativity and one of the must-attend photography events on the calendar. Each year, at the Centquatre-Paris and across satellite sites in France and abroad, it reveals the vitality of young visual storytellers and speaks for the diversity of photographic expressions through unique exhibitions and events. Audrey Hoareau, an independent curator, is in charge of the artistic direction this year.

Among the highlights in the exhibition program, Chiara Avagliano uses memories from her own childhood in Italy to construct the imaginary valley of Val Paradiso; Chiara Caterina ponders the power of reminiscence of images and the possible shifts in interpretation they can be subject to when immersed in the world’s greatest public digital archive; Tamara Eckhardt looks at how children from Irish nomadic communities are often pushed to the periphery of urban areas and ostracised from society because of their way of life; Ihar Hancharuk investigates the theme of death, its representation and its anticipation in his native Belarus; Vincent Levrat turns empty wastelands into a playground where physical and intuitive experiments are carried out with a certain childlike and creative naivety, and Felix von der Osten presents his deliberately provocative essay that shows the excesses of the food-processing industry and denounces mass consumption.

In the supporting events, London-based school Work-Show-Grow will host an intensive two-day masterclass aimed at improving participants’ written presentation and marketing strategies; Greek publisher Void will run a workshop exploring the entire process of book editing and transforming an artist’s voice into printed matter; and a number of industry experts including gallery owners, art critics, and festival directors will be hosting a series of portfolio readings. To learn more, visit

Fotofest Biennial - African Cosmologies / Houston, United States / 8 March - 19 April

© Wilfred Ukpong, from the series Blazing Century 1, Niger-Delta/Future-Cosmos. 2020 exhibitor.

First founded back in 1983, FotoFest Biennial is dedicated to promoting international awareness of museum-quality photographic and new media art from around the world. Under the curatorship of Mark Sealy – the director of art institution Autograph ABP – the festival this year looks to examine the complex relationships between contemporary life in Africa, the African diaspora, and global histories of colonialism, photography, and rights and representation. The works on display together consider the history of photography as one closely tied to a colonial project and Western image production, highlighting artists who confront and challenge this shortsighted, albeit canonised lineage. Mark Sealy writes: “The impact and the gravitational pull of the contemporary African photographic artist on the universe of photography has resulted in photography’s traditional epistemes – its deadly colonialities – being reluctantly dragged into processes of remaking, delinking and rethinking the work of images in culture. The artists presented here are not simply reflective commentators, travelers, flaneurs, or self-appointed interpreters, rather they represent a commitment to human well-being and the production and sharing of new and old knowledges.” Faisal Abdu’Allah, Akinbode Akinbiyi, Jamal Cyrus, Laura El-Tantawy, Samson Kambalu, Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Zanele Muholi, Aïda Muluneh, Aida Silvestri, Lindokuhle Sobekwa, Wilfred Ukpong, and Carrie Mae Weems are among those to feature.

To supplement this main exhibition program, FotoFest Biennial has also organised a symposium that will include panel discussions focusing on the relationships between lens-based praxis, media histories, and transatlantic migration, and a series of lectures and conversations that connect concepts of time as it is understood in relation to racial politics. A collection of artist talks and tours, culinary, music, literary, and family events round up the supporting events. Further information can be found at



Yangon Photo Festival / Yangon, Myanmar / 19 February - 14 March

Yangon Photo Festival has developed into a major event on the south-east Asian cultural calendar, building its reputation on showcasing the best photo stories from around the world and providing a space where the new generation of local photographers can learn about the medium. With the main theme centered on the urgency of the threats to the environment, and, in turn, mankind’s very existence, the 2020 program brings together more than 200 works and short photo-documentaries. Pascal Maître, Aung Thu, Paul Souders, Hkun Li, John Moore, and Stéphane Noël are among the international guests.


Biennale für aktuelle Fotografie / Mannheim, Germany / 29 February - 26 April

Across three cities, six museums, and an extensive program of talks, discussions, and workshops, Biennale für aktuelle Fotografie will this year look to explore how photography has come to symbolize the extremes of contemporary society. A collection exhibitions, each thematically distinct, considers the hold – good and bad – that photographs have over us, viewers and imagemakers alike. Joan Fontcuberta, Sohrab Hura, Kensuke Koike, Max Pinckers, Bryan Schutmaat, Nick Waplington, and Sherrie Levine all feature.


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

Written by

Simon Hall

Reading time

5 minutes

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