29 April 2017

May Festivals Guide

29 April 2017 - Written by Simon Hall

CONTACT Photography Festival (Canada), Head On Photo Festival (Australia), Les Boutographies (France), T3 Photo Festival (Japan), FotoFestival Naarden (Netherlands), Diffusion Festival (Wales), Photo London (UK), Kyotographie (Japan), and Trump, an exhibition at Linke (Italy), are among the most exciting events on the photography calendar this month.

CONTACT Photography Festival / Toronto, Canada / Opens 28 April

© Sebastião Salgado, from the series, Kuwait: A Desert on Fire

CONTACT is the largest photography festival in the world and a leading event on the Canadian cultural calendar, this year showcasing over 1500 artists in 200 exhibitions across Toronto. In recognition of the federation’s 150 year anniversary, the festival will have a specific focus on Canada – “From documentary explorations of the nation’s shifting landscape and inhabitants, to projects that challenge perceptions of history and definitions of photography, CONTACT 2017 presents outstanding projects by established and emerging Canadian artists and curators” say the organisers.

Collaborating with major museums and independent galleries, the festival’s exhibitions aim to foster meaningful exchanges between the artists and the audience. The primary shows include Underneath the tree where I buried all my childhood pets, Ke Peng; Yukon Sketchbooks, Joanne Ratajczak; Kuwait: A Desert on Fire, Sebastião Salgado; Signs of Your Identity, Daniella Zalcman; Ice in the Palm House, Jason van Bruggen; Oceans, David Burdeny; In Konya, Yusuf Aksoy; and Urban Angels II, Matthew Kudelka.

CONTACT will also present, in various cultural sites throughout Toronto, a series of installations that transform everyday activities in public spaces into unique experiences with works of art that resonate with their environment. A number of events and workshops, including portfolio reviews, lectures, panel discussions, film screenings, and tours complete the program. Go to to learn more.

Head On Photo Festival / Sydney, Australia / 5 - 28 May

© Dina Litovsky, from the series, Meatpacking

800 artists, 180 exhibitions, 100 venues – the 2017 edition of Head On Photo Festival is bigger than ever. Acting as a bridge between Australian and international photographic markets, the festival organises an open-call to select the exhibitors, with work submitted judged without the artists’ names or pedigrees so the proposals stand on their merit.

The main exhibition program includes Bowie Unseen, Markus Klinko; In the Name of Religion, Younes Mohammed; Amelia and the Animals, Robin Schwartz; City Reflections, Douwe Dijkstra; Meatpacking, Dina Litovsky; The Surgery Ship, Madeleine Hetherton; Beneath the Surface, Lisa Clarke; The Beach, Maggie Hall; and the Head On Landscape Prize and Head On Portrait Prize.

In the supporting events, Maggie Steber hosts Walk on the Wild Side, a mystery workshop for photographers who want to open their imagination and explore a new territory; Natan Dvir will share tips, tricks and the fundamentals of street photography on a photo-walk around Paddington and Moore Park; and Paul Rovere (Picture Editor, Getty Images), Alasdair Foster (Curator), Sandy Edwards (Creative Director of Arthere and Stills Gallery), Robin Schwartz (2016 Guggenheim Fellow), and Simon Harsent (Photographer) will feature in a series of portfolio reviews. Find out more at

Les Boutographies / Montpellier, France / 6 - 28 May

© Sandra Mehl, from the series, Ilona et Maddelena

Les Boutographies, first organised 16 years ago by a group of photographic enthusiasts, is based on a simple responsibility: to show the latest proposals of contemporary image-making. “This is expressed by a particular attention paid to the way images are created” say the curators, “to represent and give shape to what fills and accompanies our lives, more than to the events themselves, essentially elusive.”

The 2017 exhibitions explore the myriad ways in which the photographic image can be considered and constructed in the 21st century – Christelle Boulé, Eun Chun, and Jannemarein Renout present works from a primarily physical point of view, evoking a greater imaginative or symbolic power; Ali Mobasser and Sandra Mehl observe the presence of individuals for whom they have a close attachment; Zoé Van Der Haegen and Flaminia Celata carry the memory of human presence through nature; Alban Lécuyer offers a more documentary proposition, with his portrait of a town, Phnom Penh; Jennifer Niederhauser-Schlup reminds us of photography’s capacity to nourish the imagination by an irresistible temptation of reality; and Olga Stefatou, Ikuru Kuwajima, and Demetris Koilalous take us along routes and bye-ways: ones that lead back towards our origins.

A series of projections, conferences, and discussions held by the exhibiting photographers round-up the program. For more information, go to

T3 Photo Festival / Tokyo, Japan / 19 - 28 May

© Bénédicte Vanderreydt, from the series, I Never Told Anyone

T3, the first outdoor photography festival in Tokyo, presents a series of exhibitions by international artists that encourage audiences to discover new perspectives, initiate conversations that otherwise would not happen, and experience the old town ambience reminiscent of Tokyo from past decades.

Bénédicte Vanderreydt, Eliza Tamo, Andrea Foligni, Yoshiki Hase, Vicki Reed, Kai Caemmerer, Magdalena Sole, and Naomi Harris are among the exhibitors, while a symposium at the highest educational institute is the standout supporting event. Go to for additional information.

FotoFestival Naarden / Naarden, Netherlands / 20 May - 18 June

© Newsha Tavakolian, from the series, Öcalan’s Angels

Through a dynamic cultural program exploring multiple themes, FotoFestival Naarden offers a reflection upon the current state of autonomous photography. While the previous five editions have focused predominantly on Dutch photography, recent worldwide social, cultural, and political developments have led the curators to pay attention to international narratives.

The theme for 2017 is Right Here, Right Now. “What do we do when we are faced with breathtaking beauty? Do we capture it or enjoy the moment? What keeps us in our experience if we are just busy trying to take photos? Are the innumerable photographic images not just causing us to just forget faster?” – these are the questions posed by the curators around which the festival is centred.

Restricted Areas, Danila Tkachenko; I Have a Dream, Chris de Bode; Casa Bak, Carla Kogelman; Safari Club, David Chancellor; The Drawer, Emilie Hudig; Road of Bones, Jacob Aue Sobol; Wild West Tech, Laura Morton; and Öcalan’s Angels, Newsha Tavakolian are the featured shows this year. They are complemented by a dynamic and extensive supporting program that includes portfolio reviews, guided tours, lectures, competitions, book reviews, and educational projects. Visit for further information.

Diffusion Festival / Cardiff, Wales / 1 - 31 May

© Tatiana Vinogradova, from the series, Days of Melancholy

Diffusion is a biennial month-long international festival of photography held in Cardiff. Organised by the Ffotogallery in collaboration with a wide range of local and international partners, Diffusion is a celebration of photography and the photographic image in all its forms.

Revolution in its widest context is the theme this year, as the invited photographers explore moments of great social change and moments that centre on freedom of expression, the pursuit of utopias, human rights and identity. “Through the prism of photography and lens-based media, the festival will examine dramatic and wide-reaching changes over the last hundred years to the way we live – technological, political, social and cultural” say the curators.

1968: The Fire of Ideas, Marcelo Brodsky; Born Nowhere, Laís Pontes; Chandigarh: Portrait of a City, Manuel Bougot; Days of Melancholy, Tatiana Vinogradova; Kathmandu Girl, Catrine Val; Lost Horizon, Danila Tkachenko; No Time for Flowers, Vanley Burke; and Shenasnameh, Amak Mahmoodian are among the primary exhibitions. In the public program, Tristan Manco and James Green both host Zine Workshops; Buzz Magazine, South Wales' longest running culture magazine, will be running a workshop on independent publishing; and the Diffusion symposium will feature talks from exhibiting artists, architects, designers, cultural theorists and committed urbanists. Learn more at

Photo London / London, United Kingdom / 18 - 21 May

© Simon Roberts, from the series, Sight Sacralization

Now in its third edition, Photo London has established itself as a premier photography fair, annually bringing together the world’s leading curators, editors, photographers, and exhibitors. This year, in addition to the selection of galleries showcasing their prized assets at the Fair, Photo London will host a number of special exhibitions – The Blain|Southern Gallery showcases Thresholds, a new virtual reality artwork by internationally acclaimed artist Mat Collishaw; David Hurn presents images from his personal collection compiled over six decades through a series of swaps with fellow photographers; Taryn Simon will present Image Atlas, a work which investigates cultural differences and similarities by indexing top image results for given search terms across local engines; and Isaac Julien displays a body of work that revisits his seminal film Looking for Langston (1989), regarded as a cinematic landmark in the exploration of desire and the reciprocity of the gaze.

Book signings, guided tours, satellite events, and talks curated by William A. Ewing, the former Director of Exhibitions at the International Center of Photography, round up the public program. Discover more at

Kyotographie / Kyoto, Japan / 15 April - 14 May

© Giada Ripa, from The Yokohama Project

The 5th edition of the Kyotographie International Photography Festival opened on 15 April, presenting a series of exhibitions held across Kyoto, each staged creatively in both traditional and contemporary cultural settings. The theme for this year is Love - "Love is all together passion, ecstasy, prayers; it is despair and sometimes madness, joy and hope, family - and much more. Love is what connects us to others and to nature. Through our program, we wanted to share some views of love with the diversity, the commitment and the intimacy of photographersʼ eyes" say Lucille Reyboz and Yusuke Nakanishi, the Co-founders and Directors of Kyotographie.

The primary exhibitions include The Songs of Mud, Chikako Yamashiro; The Yokohama Project 1867-2016, Giada Ripa; Falling Leaves, Akihito Yoshida; Not In Your Face, Susan Barnett; The elusive Chauvet - Pont-d’Arc Cave, Raphaël Dallaporta; The Eye of Love, René Groebli; Family Album / Love and Ecstasy, Isabel Muñoz; Between the Light and Darkness, Yan Kallen; and Somnyama Ngonyama, Zanele Muholi.

In the festival’s supporting events, Maria García Yelo (Director of PHotoEspaña), François Cheval (Curator), William A. Ewing (Curator, Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography), Yumi Goto (Independent Curator), and Yusuke Nakajima (Director of The Tokyo Art Book Fair) feature in a series of portfolio reviews, while both Zanele Muholi (visual activist, photographer, and educator) and Isabel Muñoz (photographer) will be hosting masterclasses. For further information, visit

LINKE ExhibitionTrump / Milan, Italy / Opens 4 May

© Christopher Morris, from the exhibition, Trump

4 May marks the opening of the exhibition, Trump, at Linke, Milan, an exhibition by Christopher Morris curated by Alessia Glaviano, the Senior Photo Editor for Vogue Italia.

The show presents a selection of photographs shot by Morris of Trump’s supporters during last year’s presidential elections. The images are perfectly composed and markedly cinematographic in character, capable of going beyond the mere representation of reality to offer the viewer some sort of social and political commentary. They appear to be dense in symbolism and meaning and, by suggesting several interpretative layers, they highlight the theatre of political rhetoric as well as the contradictions within and the fanaticism of certain voters.

Throughout the first days of the exhibition, Morris will hold a workshop on the importance of creating an individual style. To find out more, go to


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Written by

Simon Hall

Reading time

13 minutes

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