29 August 2017

September’s Best Photo Festivals

29 August 2017 - Written by Simon Hall

Learn all about the most important festivals on the photography calendar this month including Visa Pour l’Image (France), Photoville (United States), and Gazebook (Italy).

Visa Pour l'Image / Perpignan, France / 2 - 17 September

© Alvaro Canovas, from the series, Battle for Mosul

For 15 days in September, Perpignan will welcome photography’s elite and enthusiasts alike for a celebration of photojournalism, with cultural spaces across the city playing host to a series of events each designed to draw attention to the issues that define our times.

Among the exhibitions this year, Daniel Berehulak presents an inside look at President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal antidrug campaign in the Philippines; Lu Guang explores how China’s unprecedented growth has caused a considerable increase in both energy consumption and pollution; Alvaro Canovas documents life on the frontline with the Iraqi Special Operations Forces in the battle to regain control of Mosul; Meridith Kohut captures life in Venezuela amidst an economic crisis that has left many struggling to survive severe shortages of food and medicine; Vlad Sokhin tells the urgent story of climate impacts affecting wildlife and communities across the oceans, from the Arctic to the South Pacific; and the Visa Pour l’Image curators pay homage to the late Stanley Greene with a show that highlights his commitment to exposing the suffering inflicted on civilian populations in times of war.

In the supporting events, a series of screenings will be aired from 9.45 pm, Monday 4th to Saturday 9th, with the program beginning with a chronological review of the most important news stories from the past year, two months at a time. This is followed by reports and features on society, wars, crises, politics, unusual and remarkable events, sport, culture, science, and the environment. Go to to learn more.

Landskrona Foto Festival / Landskrona, Sweden / 8 - 17 September

© Philong Sovan, from the series, In the City by Night

Under the directorship of renowned curator, Christian Caujolle and gallery owner, Jenny Nordquist, the 2017 Landskrona Foto Festival is committed to showcasing photography that has rarely or never been shown in Sweden. The work of more than 150 photographers will be on display in some 20 exhibitions hosted by a number of artistic venues across the coastal city. Among them, Philong Sovan presents In the City by Night, a series he constructed using motorcycle headlamps as a lightsource to photograph unsuspecting street scenes in Cambodian cities; Irina Werning’s Back to the Future juxtaposes old photographs from people’s childhoods with detailed recreations that together capture a sense of the subject’s biography; Kacper Kowalski exhibits Over, a visual record of his lone aerial journeys above Polish landscapes during the bitter-cold of winter; and Neak Sophal’s Leaf / Hang On questions the widening gap between the abandoned countryside, where land is being appropriated, and cities that are growing out of control.

A photobook fair with Swedish and international publishers, the Landskrona Foto Open Book Dummy Review, the screening of Shooting Holy Land by Josef Koudelka and Gilad Baram, and an artist talk with photographer Stephen Gill are among the supporting events. To learn more about the full program, visit

Photoville / New York, United States / 13 - 24 September

© Stephanie Keith, from the series, Killing the Black Snake

Set in Brooklyn Bridge Park, New York, Photoville will once again create an immersive photography village featuring more than 50 shipping containers transformed into mini galleries. There will be exhibitions, artist talks, evening projections in the festival’s pop-up Beer Garden, and hands-on workshops hosted by leading industry figures like Spencer Platt of Getty Images, Ron Haviv, and J.Sybylla Smith.

In the exhibition program, Nichole Sobecki’s A Climate for Conflict documents how climate change and environmental destruction are transforming Somalia; Endia Beal presents Am I What You're Looking For?, a visual story looking at young women of colour who are transitioning from the academic world into the corporate setting; group show, Body Talk explores the cultural variations of body positivity and the act of claiming space across both the gender spectrum and the globe; Stephanie Keith's Killing the Black Snake: Resistance at Standing Rock looks at an extraordinary moment in the long history of indigenous resistance; and The Blood and the Rain, a collaborative multimedia project between Yael Martínez and Orlando Velázquez, examines long-practiced Mesoamerican rain rites in indigenous Mexican communities. Visit for further information.

Organ Vida / Zagreb, Croatia / 6 - 20 September

© Katrin Koenning, from the series, Indefinitely

Held every September in the Croatian capital of Zagreb, Organ Vida brings together contemporary local and international artists, with the goal of encouraging critical thinking and discussion around the social, political, and personal questions that can be communicated through the medium of photography.

There will be 14 official exhibitions, with works featured including Sheng-Wen Lo’s, White Bear, a visual story that attempts to shed light on dilemmas concerning captive animal programs; Pieter Hugo’s Verisimilar Worlds, a collection of photographs that address the complex political realities of race and identity in African societies; Indefinitely by Katrin Koenning, a photographic journey about love and a seemingly infinite space; and Sharkification by Cristina De Middel, a series that reflects upon the classical debate between rich and poor, legal and illegal, and the good and the bad.

The festival’s supporting events are comprised of educational, discourse, and film programs that contain conferences, workshops, artist talks, portfolio reviews, lectures, performances, and film screenings. Sarker Protick, Sean O’Hagan, Dana Lixenberg, Karen McQuaid, and Corinne Noordenbos are among the experts taking an active part. For more information, go to

Gazebook: Sicily Photobook Festival / Sicily, Italy / 8 - 10 September

© Moises Saman, from the series, Discordia

Organised by Melissa Carnemolla and Teresa Bellina, with the artistic direction of Lina Pallotta, the 2017 edition of Gazebook in Punta Secca, Sicily is once again set to present a diverse program of events dedicated solely to the photobook. Colin Pantall, Vasantha Yogananthan, Massimo Branca, Mathieu Asselin, Jason Fulford, and PHmuseum contributor Alejandro Acín are among the names who will be attending the festival this year to give lectures, launch books, host workshops, and serve lemonade to visitors.

In the exhibition line-up, PHM 2017 Grant New Generation prize winner Karim El Maktafi presents Hayati, a reflection upon his identity as a second-generation Italian; Çağdaş Erdogan showcases his work, Control, which examines the dark side of modern Turkey; Leila Fatemi’s Clothbound explores the way in which veiled Muslim women are perceived in Western culture; and Moises Saman documents the chaos surrounding the revolutions that unfolded during the years of the Arab Spring in Discordia.

Slideluck Gazebook also returns with a screening of various projects that each find a connection between photobooks and multimedia, and the festival will also set up a shared independent photobook table where authors will be able to display their books and promote them to visitors and a guest panel. Discover more at

Unseen / Amsterdam, Netherlands / 22 - 24 September

© Evgenia Arbugaeva, from the series, Weather Man

Unseen Amsterdam 2017 will present a rich program of exhibitions and supporting events each designed to build, nurture, and celebrate photographic talent. The showpiece Fair, a platform connecting artists, curators, collectors and photography enthusiasts, will welcome over 50 galleries from across the world. Esther Teichmann, Evgenia Arbugaeva, Gregory Halpern, Juno Calypso, Laura El-Tantawy, Nadav Kander, Rinko Kawauchi, Sofía Ayarzagoitia, and Tanya Habjouqa are among the names on display.

Away from the mini exhibitions of the Fair, Unseen will be hosting a Book Market that celebrates the printed and bound counterpart of image-making; The Living Room initiative brings together creatives and influencers for a three-day speakers program packed with lectures and debates about the state of photography today; various interactive onsite projects have been created to allow the visitors of Unseen to come in contact with a variety of artists and their practices; and Thomas Mailaender and Erik Kessels have collaborated to create a Photo Pleasure Palace exhibition. Go to to learn more.

Getxophoto / Getxo, Spain / 30 August - 1 October

© Maria Portaluppi, from the series, This is not Paradise

Taking place in the Basque Country of Spain, Getxophoto supports the exploration and experimentation of formats, materials, and unconventional exhibition spaces. Curated this year by Monica Allende, the festival looks not only to arrange the images like works of art to be observed, but also to create emotions around them, exploring the links between people and images, neighbours and visitors.

More than 15 exhibitions will feature this year, among which María Portaluppi presents Este no es el paraíso (This is not Paradise), a series depicting decontextualised spaces where animals and darkness are the lead players; Tania Franco Klein’s Pest Control explores the fractured relations of contemporaneity and the repulsion inspired by the media towards anything that may threaten our “peaceful” way of life; Valentina Abenavoli’s Anaesthesia provides a black-and-white narrative revolving around two strongly connected opposing concepts: evil and empathy; and Daniel Beltrá showcases his tragically beautiful aerial images depicting the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010.

Getxophoto also has a strong has a strong pedagogical component consisting of workshops, guided tours, book launches, night promenades, projections and artist talks. To find out more about the complete program, visit

PhEST / Monopoli, Italy / 7 September - 29 October

© Osborne Macharia, from the series, Magadi

For two months across September and October, the city of Monopoli, Italy will play host to PhEST – See Beyond the Sea, an emerging festival dedicated to showcasing photography that responds to issues relating to the Mediterranean countries. The festival was born out of a “need to give back a voice to the thousand identities that form the ‘sea within the lands’; the need to redefine a new, original imagery” say the organisers. Under the artistic direction of Giovanni Troilo and the photography curatorship of Arianna Rinaldo, PhEST is a small space that hopes to stitch back together the divide between the reality and the representation of the region.

Among the exhibitions this year, Osborne Macharia presents three series that together provoke a shift of vision and a crushing of stereotypes on the way African identities are represented; Jean-Marc Caimi and Valentina Piccinni document the environmental crisis on the Salento peninsula as the killer bacteria Xylella destroys hectares of olive groves; Eddy van Wessel captures the struggle to take back Mosul by the Iraqi forces fighting against the so-called Islamic State; César Dezfuli showcases 118 portraits of all the people rescued from a single rubber boat drifting 20 nautical miles from the Libyan coast; and Michał Siarek explores the relationship between history, myths and pop culture, and the attempts of mixing it all up in the construction of Macedonian national identity.

The supporting events feature guided exhibition tours hosted by the artists, a series of evening projections, and portfolio reviews - free and open to all - with Irene Alison, Mauro Bedoni, Maria Pia Bernardoni, Carol Körting, Maysa Moroni, and Lara Pettinelli. To learn more about the full program, visit



Cortona On The Move / Tuscany, Italy / 13 July - 1 October

The Tuscan countryside town of Cortona has been transformed into a stage for contemporary photography, hosting varying cultural initiatives and 20 official exhibitions showcasing the works of photographers like Donna Ferrato, Donald Weber, Sandra Mehl, and Farshid Tighehsaz.


Les Rencontres de la Photographie / Arles, France / 3 July - 24 September

Running through 24 September, the Rencontres d’Arles presents a program of events that almost exclusively favours new, unpublished work. Michael Wolf, Christophe Rihet, Kate Barry, Mathieu Asselin, and Gideon Mendel are among the exhibiting photographers.


Verzasca FOTO Festival / Sonogno, Canton of Ticino, Switzerland / 31 August - 3 September

Verzasca FOTO is an annual open-air festival set in the idyllic alpine village of Sonogno, Switzerland. The list of featured photographers this year includes Christopher Anderson, Guillaume Bonn, Jesse Chehak, Peter Bialobrzeski, David Chancellor, and Juliana Sohn.


Paraty em Foco / Paraty, Brazil / 13 - 17 September

Under the curatorship of Érico Elias I and Giancarlo Mecarelli, Paraty em Foco 2017 explores the theme of Photography: Documentary and Fiction, inviting participating photographers to construct new realities and create new contexts.


Photobook Week Aarhus / Aarhus, Denmark / 21 - 24 September

Celebrating its 4th edition this year, Photobook Week Aarhus is dedicated to concepts relating to publishing, distributing, trading, and collecting the photobook. The keynote speaker is Gerry Badger and lectures will be held by Katrin Elvarsdottir, Anne Elisabeth Toft, Tom Nielsen and Hein Heinsen, among others.


Photo Oxford / Oxford, United Kingdom / 8 - 24 September

For this year’s Photo Oxford, curators Tim Clark and Greg Hobson will engage in a series of explorations into the complex and often contradictory relationship between photography’s capacity to both conceal and reveal. Martin Parr, Arkady Bronnikov, Kate Mahony, and Edgar Martins all feature.


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Written by

Simon Hall

Reading time

15 minutes

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