The Best Photography Festivals Open This July 2023

  • Published
    5 Jul 2023
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  • Topics Festivals

Gibellina Photoroad Open Air & Site-specific Festival, Les Rencontres d’Arles, Noorderlicht International Photo Festival, 6th Annual Latin American Foto Festival, and Ragusa Foto Festival are among the festivals worth visiting this month.

Gibellina Photoroad Open Air & Site-specific Festival / Gibellina, Italy / 28 July – 30 September

Located in the public, open-air space of the Southern Italian town of Gibellina, the Festival yearly questions how photography can take shape in urban sites. Gibellina itself can be considered an open-air contemporary art museum, where works of art and architecture by Alberto Burri, Arnaldo Pomodoro, and Joseph Beuys among others became part of the city after a major earthquake that hit Western Sicily in 1968: Gibellina Photoroad virtuously locates itself in this context, stretching the boundaries of the interaction between public space, art, and the public.

In its third edition, titled Land of Imagination, Gibellina Photoroad points to the concept of alteration in music theory - the temporary suspension of the strict rules of the tonal system. Therefore, the more than 30 exhibited projects look at the breaking of rules as a space for freedom: works by Nicolò Degiorgis, Charles Fréger, Salvatore Di Gregorio, SMITH, Clément Lambelet, Gloria Oyarzabal, Francesco Zizola, Marta Bogdańska, Luca Massaro and Anna Merci, Kensuke Koike, Matteo De Mayda, Mishka Henner, and many more explore an array of topics that spans from migration, decolonization, the territory of Sicily and the American dream, to the lack of and longing for the stars, the figure of the savage, and speculative climate simulations. 

Check the Festival’s website to be updated on the upcoming opening events program.

Les Rencontres d’Arles / Arles, France / 3 July – 24 September

Since 1970, the Arles’ festival leads the European scene of contemporary photography exhibiting established, internationally known artists while championing new emerging work every year. This edition’s theme A State of Consciousness addresses the unignorable urgency of climate change, with an exploration of the Arlesian territory and its ecosystem being carried in industrial areas by Mathieu Asselin, along the Rhône by Tanja Engelberts, through Camargue by Sheng-Wen Lo, and exhibited at the iconic location of Monoprix. Their analysis of the French territory is accompanied by Eric Tabuchi and Nelly Monnier’s Grey Sun, moving on from their long-term work Atlas des Régions Naturelles, and Yohanne Lamoulère’s exploration of river Rhône on a boat built from salvaged materials named Anita. Looking abroad we find, among others, Gregory Crewdson’s Eveningside, exhibiting three bodies of work made between 2012 and 2022; the collective show Søsterskap, highlighting the role of photography in the Nordic countries by looking at the welfare state from an intersectional feminist perspective; and Hannah Darabi’s Soleil of Persian Square, a study of the visual identity of the Iranian diaspora in Los Angeles through the making-of of a fictional city.

As every year, a highlight of the French festival is the Louis Roederer Discovery Award exhibition, showcasing the work of the prize’s ten shortlisted emerging photographers - Lina Geoushy and Ibrahim Ahmed offering new iconographies of masculinity and womanhood through the archive, Philippe Calia commenting on the authority and narratives of Indian museums, Hien Hoang building a counter-image to popular tropes of Asian culture as seen by Western society, and many more. 

Check out the festival’s website to read more about the exhibition program, leading book fair, and rich events program taking place in the opening week. 

Noorderlicht International Photo Festival / Groeningen, Friesland and Drenthe, The Netherlands / 23 June – 10 December

Since 2021, the festival is a biennale for the three northern provinces of the Netherlands, carrying forward its goal of operating on the cutting edge of artistic experiment and social urgency. With this year’s theme, Regenerate, Noorderlicht Festival explores the changes society must face, aiming for reciprocal relationships between people, other living beings, and technological achievements. The main exhibition is located at Museum Belvédère, and features work that invites us to reflect on our action’s impact on the environment, and on the interconnectedness of our lives.

Misha Vallejo Prut’s Secret Sarayaku depicts the daily life of the indigenous Kichwa community, centered around the assumption that nature is a conscious entity where all elements have a spirit of their own, Angela Blazanovic’s Fragments of a River looks at discarded objects on the banks of River Thames as the starting point for an exploration of the territory and a reflection on pollution, Ole Witt’s Food Sync tackles food tech and the radical need for changing our food culture: this and much more is be at the core of the Dutch festival, also including a side programme of complementing projects issued from various collaborations.  Find out more on their website.

6th Annual Latin American Foto Festival / 13 July – 30 July

The Bronx Documentary Center (BDC) will hold its Latin American Foto Festival this year for the 6th time, displaying the works of emerging and established photographers from Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Cuba, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela throughout the South Bronx’s Melrose neighborhood.

Trans rights in Catatumbo, one of the areas with the greatest presence of armed groups in Colombia; a Afro-Bolivian music and dance that works as a vessel for the community’s story of travelling and suffering, a social project bringing photography and representation issues to vulnerable youth in Caracas, the Peruvian mining boom and its contribution to the melting of the Quelccaya Ice Cap, the lack of government efforts to find disappeared women in Peru, and femicides in Ciudad Juarez from 2005 to 2022 are just some of the pressing social issues raised by the long-term projects on show.

Additionally, in-person workshops, tours, discussions, and other community events will be held, comprising a public program of panel talks and screenings. More information is to be found on their website.

Ragusa Foto Festival / Ragusa, Italy / 20 July – 27 August

Attentive to the Sicilian territory and the issues affecting the Mediterranean Sea, Ragusa Foto Festival has been active since 2012. This year, the word relations is at the core of the exhibited works: what kind of relationships is photography able to establish?

Nine exhibitions have been announced so far, and more are yet to come: Davide Monteleone’s Sinomocene analyses the movement of capital as tied to geopolitical strategies, Alessandra Calò’s Herbarium stems from the archival exploration of an unknown herbarium to then develop into a collaborative project involving a group of six people, Federica Belli’s How far is too close to the heart? is a search for empathy and acceptance, Ruben Brulat’s Porosité creatively dialogues with the Etna volcano through performance, Lisa Sorgini’s Behind Glass investigates maternity within the domestic space, Carlotta Vigo’s Mare Dentro documents the relationship between Sicily and fish tradition, Andrea Camiolo’s For a possible landscape addresses the impossibility of actually represent a place, Sara Grimaldi’s Ho visto Nina volare looks at the combination of two psychological disorders, and Corazonada by Giulia Gatti relates to Mexican femininity through rituals, erotism, and magic.

Find out more on Ragusa Foto Festival’s website.



Backlight Photo Festival / Tampere, Finland / 3 June – 15 October

One of the oldest international photography festivals in Northern Europe, Backlight has been organised every three years since 1987 in the city of Tampere, Finland. Themed Cruel Radiance, the 2023 edition of the triennale questions the evidentiary power of photography, and the way matter can work as a record of violence: from particle pollution to legacies of nuclear weapons and residues of the mining industry, from environmental damage in Iran to image technologies looking at immigrants, this edition of Backlight is a material repository where violence can be a slow cumulative process as much as an abrupt conflict. Find out more on their website.

Rencontres De La Photographie En Gaspésie / Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Canada / 15 July – 30 September

Les Rencontres de la Photographie en Gaspésie are an annual summertime event presenting exhibitions, installation and public events in the Gaspé peninsula. Themed On the moose’s potentially fatal unpredictability, this 14th edition will showcase the work of sixteen artists from Québec and abroad, presented for the most part outdoors. Among them will be Chieko Shiraishi’s work observing and following a herd of deer in between frozen lakes and dry woodlands, Sarah Boutin’s documentation of loss, Zaynê Akyol’s work on women soldiers from Kurdistan, and Roselena Ramistella’s journey on the back of a mule, potraying ancient and yet alive rural habits in Sicily. Explore the program of Les Rencontres on the festival’s website.

PHotoESPAÑA / Madrid, Santander, Cantabria and other locations, Spain / 31 May - 3 September

A rich program of exhibitions, workshops, walks, and other activities featuring artists such as Joan Fontcuberta, Bernard Plossu, Roni Horn, Rehab Eldalil, Seif Kousmate, Bleda y Rosa, Fina Miralles and many more will be spread across the Spanish capital and other key locations for the 2023 edition of this international meeting point for photography, which has been active from 1998. Find out more on their website.

© SMITH - Gibellina Photoroad Open Air & Site-specific Festival

© SMITH - Gibellina Photoroad Open Air & Site-specific Festival

© Ibrahim Ahmed - Les Rencontres d'Arles

© Ibrahim Ahmed - Les Rencontres d'Arles

© Ole Witt - Noorderlicht International Photo Festival

© Ole Witt - Noorderlicht International Photo Festival

The Best Photography Festivals Open This July 2023
© Ruben Brulat - Ragusa Foto Festival

© Ruben Brulat - Ragusa Foto Festival

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