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05 September 2019

Festival Opening: The 4th Edition of PhEST on Myths and Religion

05 September 2019 - Written by PHmuseum

The Italian photography festival returns tomorrow with its glance spanning from the Mediterranean to the rest of the world. This year, the festival focuses on Myths and Religion and features a solo show from Liza Ambrossio whose work was selected as part

© Norman Behrendt’s Brave New Turkey

PhEST – See Beyond the Sea once again will present itself as something more than a photography festival. The initiative is indeed conceived to be a moment of provocation and debate able to follow the cultural and social revolutions and to help us read the past and the present in a modern way, maintaining an autonomy of thought and trying to build a future together. From September 6th to November 3rd Monopoli (Italy) becomes the Apulian capital of photography for the fourth year in a row, with the international festival of photography and arts, dedicated this year to the theme Religions and Myths, with the artistic direction of Giovanni Troilo, and the photography curatorship of Arianna Rinaldo.

"Is God dead? Asked Nietzsche. No, he is not dead – explains PhEST Artistic Director Giovanni Troilo – he is more alive than ever. Man is constantly in search of God. It is part of his nature, he is the son of his capacity of imagination, son of the fact of being aware of his existence and of his strength. A necessary shelter. So he can only refer to God. It is this referring to God, as a universal element, that makes religion the perfect tool to practice power. It becomes the common ground on which building complex and shared social structures."

"Great empires - he follows - like August’s have been able to lay their foundations on the construction of the myth domesticating the power of images to the machine of consensus. Even nowadays, like in Erdogan’s Turkey, religion is one of the principal tools: since 1987 around 1,000 mosques were built each year. These are only a couple of exemples through which we try to tell this fascinating, complex and delicate theme, from codified religions to the most pagan rites, sorcery, and atheism. We want to offer to the visitor a place to play, think, imagine, bring religions back to that intimate space where one can converse with his fears and desires."

© Sanne De Wilde, from Lands of Saints

Sixteen exhibitions will fill the seaside town of Monopoli in ancient palaces and spectacular external locations. The multi-awarded Belgian photographer, Sanne De Wilde, was commissioned by the festival to follow the traditional religious festivities in Puglia: Terra di Santi(Land of Saints) will hang from the ancient walls of town. Norman Behrendt’s Brave New Turkey reminds us how religion, from ancient times to today, had often been used as an instrument of power and propaganda. Michela Benaglia dives into the universe of Italian anthropological masks: The Savage, the Fool and the Bear are surprisingly replicated in various cultures around the world.

Alinka Echeverría mesmerizes us with The Road to Tepeyac and the incredible number of pilgrims devoted to the Virgen de Guadalupe, that they carry lovingly on their backs for kilometres. Jesse Rieser makes us smile with his take on Christmas in America. Subtitled Happy Birthday Jesus, it takes us into the world of magical beliefs connected to entertainment and capitalism; while the Israeli photographer Roei Greenberg unravels the layers of religious and geo-political history in the his native country. Last but not least, Liza Ambrossio - winner of the solo show offered among the opportunities of the PHmuseum 2019 Photography Grant - intricately takes us through her family history imbued with Mexican sorcery in The Rage of Devotion.

The festival will also offer free portfolio reviews on Saturday and Sunday, with PHmuseum Director's Giuseppe Oliverio among the reviewers. To learn more about the festival and festival's inaugural weekend (6-9 September, Monopoli, Italy), please visit phest.info.


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In 2019 PHmuseum and PhEST started a collaboration meant to offer a solo show to an applicant of the PHmuseum Photography Grant. In 2019 the winner was Liza Ambrossio with her long term project The Rage of Devotion.

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