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05 November 2020

November's Best Photo Festivals

05 November 2020 - Written by Simon Hall

Photo Vogue Festival (Italy & Online), Photo Is:rael (Israel), and Singapore International Photography Festival (Singapore) are among the highlights on the photography calendar this November. Learn what exhibitions and public events they have in store.

Photo Vogue Festival / Milan, Italy & Online / 19 - 22 November

© Jillian Freyer

Photo Vogue Festival was created back in 2016 as an inclusive space for dialogue and interaction among the different photographic genres. Throughout its first four years, the event has established itself as an important stage for the promotion of photography culture and a platform to explore many of the pressing issues of our time. As a result of the ongoing uncertainty of social distancing measures, and the Covid—19 situation more generally, the festival this year will take place primarily online where a never seen before platform will host a collection of exhibitions, talks, and projections.

In the first of the two main exhibitions, curators Alessia Glaviano and Francesca Marani have built a program around the theme of All in this Together. The works of the 30 photographers on display, each selected through a scouting initiative launched on Photo Vogue, are a hymn to love and hope; an encouragement to nurture and keep alive the sense of community, solidarity, and empathy that we have all witnessed as the offset of a very dramatic moment in time. The list of featured artists includes Miloushka Bokma, Kennedi Carter, Imraan Christian, Jasmine Clarke, Imogen Freeland, Jillian Freyer, Julia Fullerton-Batten, Devashish Gaur, Emma Hartvig, Neha Hirve, Sophie Kietzmann, M’hammed Kilito, Anu Kumar, Hassan Kurbanbaev, and Andras Ladocsi.

The second main showcase presents a novel way of examining and exploring the current fashion photography panorama by forging a dialogue among four of its most brilliant minds, namely Alexandra von Fuerst, Camila Falquez, Nadine Ijewere and Ruth Ossai. These “contemporary socially conscious fashion photographers”, as PVF labels them, are part of a new generation of artists whose aesthetics are intrinsically a hybrid of genres. In their images, fashion engages in a constant dialogue with visual arts and journalism as well as with an introjected need to balance out the various levels of representation. To celebrate their vibrant and powerful vision, PVF has initiated a four-way dialogue between the artists whereby they are not only the protagonists of the exhibition but also its curators.

These two shows will be complemented by a supporting program held on the same digital platform from 19 through 22 November. Highlights include live events, zoom parties, a special projection of the PHmuseum 2020 Women Photographers Grant shortlisted projects, and portfolio reviews with a host of recognised industry professionals including Alessia Glaviano, Amber Terranova, Bruno Ceschel, Federica Chiocchetti, Ihiro Hayami, James Estrin, Kathy Ryan, Kira Pollack, Olivier Laurent, Paul Moakley, Renata Ferri, Sadie Quarrier, Sarah Leen, and our own Giuseppe Oliverio. To learn more about the festival, visit vogue.it/fotografia.


Photo Is:rael / Tel Aviv, Israel / 9 - 21 November

© Nadav Kander

Since its formation back in 2012, Photo Is:rael has worked to fulfill its goal of creating a better society by highlighting important artistic and social issues through the language of photography. This year’s festival, dedicated to the theme of Transformation, will present dozens of exhibitions featuring leading photographers from Israel and abroad, as well as performances, video art, music events, and more.

Among the standout shows, Nadav Kander evokes feelings of isolation and distance in work that contemplates how this moment in history is bigger than just the coronavirus; Gloria Oyarzabal sets out to decolonize feminism and questions the Eurocentric theoretical frameworks that construct universalistic gender categories; Eddo Hartmann focuses on scientific research from different disciplines dealing with Dutch landscapes and ecosystems; Diana Markosian uses multiple visual storytelling techniques to examine the Armenian genocide through the eyes of three survivors; and Shunit Flako-Zaritsky captures self-portraits where her body tries to overcome the emptiness that surrounds it as if it had a memory that it is trying to revive. Olya Pegova, Oskar Alvarado, Daniel Szalai, Jonas Bendiksen, Rafal Milach, Debbie Morag, Jacqueline Telem, and Shira Mushkin also feature.

In the supporting events, Martin Parr will deliver the keynote speech in which he will explore his long relationship with photographing both the UK and subjects concerning leisure pursuits; Susan Bright will host a lecture looking at her project Home Truths and offer an expanded view of the possibilities of curating; and Jim Hollander will present The Lonka Project that pays photographic tribute to Holocaust survivors around the world who continue to stand as a symbol of optimism and strength. For further information, go to photoisrael.org/en.


Singapore International Photography Festival / Singapore / 13 November - 30 January

© Achim Lippoth

The Singapore International Photography Festival is a biennial gathering of minds from around the world with the common pursuit of advancing the art and appreciation of photography. It aims to be a much-needed arena for critical thought and academic discussion on photography in Southeast Asia and functions as a key platform to discover, nurture, and propel Southeast Asian photographers onto the international stage. SIPF20 is centered around the subject of Departing and Arriving and will provide a sojourn into our sense of belonging and identities amid current uncertainties. “We dive into our past histories and our belief systems, laying new claims on our cultural ancestry – some parts are discarded for us to arrive at who we are,” write the curators. “The journey is not without challenges as we revisit and redefine the grounds we stand for, but it is necessary if we want to understand ourselves—in Singapore, and globally,” they add.

The exhibition highlights include Kevin WY Lee’s presentation of black and white photographs taken on a family road trip to his father’s home rice-farming village in southern China in 2012; Liu Ying’s meditation on how perfectionist living habits that are intended to bring about a degree of cleanliness can ultimately be counterproductive; Seba Kurtis’ response to two incidents where refugees lost their lives amidst the arduous journey to safety; and the sixth chapter of Vasantha Yogananthan’s long-term project A Myth of Two Souls inspired by the epic tale The Ramayana. In other standout shows, Margins: Drawing Pictures of Home presents the works of 15 Singapore photographers that bring home some of the pertinent topics quiescently essential to Singaporeans, and The Amazing ABC of Photography displays a collection of acclaimed photographers from various walks of life including Martin Parr, Nan Goldin, Wolfgang Tillmans, Alec Soth, Achim Lippoth, and Sebastiao Salgado.

Running in parallel to the exhibitions is a series of supporting events, among which Yumi Goto will lead a six-day masterclass focusing on the process of storytelling; Robert Zhao will host a workshop focused on documenting nature in urban cities and discovering narratives of human and non-human species in our daily environments; and a host of renowned editors, curators, and festival directors will be offering online portfolio reviews. To book a slot and learn more about SIPF20, visit sipf.sg.

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ALSO OPEN THIS MONTH:

LagosPhoto Festival / Lagos, Nigeria / 24 October - 19 December

Launched back in 2010, LagosPhoto is a platform dedicated to the dissemination of contemporary photography that aims to unite emerging African artists with established industry professionals from around the world. The festival is designed to encapsulate individual experiences and identities across the African continent and is embodied in the exploration of historical and contemporary issues as well as the sharing of cultural practices. The central theme this year is Rapid Response Restitution, a concept developed by Azu Nwagbogu and Dr. Clémentine Deliss in collaboration with guest curator and Nigerian cultural historian Dr. Oluwatoyin Sogbesan. “With Rapid Response Restitution, LagosPhoto20 takes an unusual and participatory approach to current discussions on the return of Africa’s cultural heritage back to the continent,” they write.

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OFF Bratislava / Bratislava, Slovakia / Opening 6 November.

This year, OFF Bratislava, with the theme Born from Sea Foam, attempts to reveal the secrets of the very beginning of everything that surrounds us and builds us. “Birth or reproduction is the basic principle of life and can be considered a synonym for creation, when a new independent entity comes to life,” write the curators. “We can speak about the beginning of a new existence and as such its balancing counterpart, from a linguistic and logical point of view, is the end, which can also be called death. How much is genesis pre-determined and how much is it a matter of chance? That is a philosophical and scientific question.” The photographers on display responding to this theme include Verena Gotthardt, Simon Menner, Hanna Jansen, Vincenzo Metodo, Daniel Szalai, Laura Pannack, Soraya Zaman, Ingmar Nolting, and Toby Binder among many others.

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Photoville / New York City, United States / 17 September – 29 November

Returning for a ninth year under the directorship of United Photo Industries, Photoville exists to amplify the voices of visual storytellers and connect them to a worldwide diverse audience, with immersion and interactivity at the heart of what makes the event so successful and popular with visitors. Over 100 curatorial partners have come together to realise Photoville 2020 and the festival is set to present over 60 outdoor exhibitions across New York City and present a full slate of free online programming. A short sample of the extraordinary work on display includes Sofie Vasquez’s black and white documentary series about the independent wrestling scene and culture in the South Bronx; Daveed Baptiste’s examination of the social dynamics within Haitian-American identity; and Pablo Delano’s conceptual art installation that explores the fraught relationship between the United States and its modern-day colony Puerto Rico.

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

Held exclusively at the Benaki Museum, Athens Photo Festival seeks 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.

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Check out our festivals page to get a complete view of what's coming up on the photography calendar over the next few months.

Written by

Simon Hall

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