An Invincible Summer: Fotografia Europea returns with a programme concentrating on resistance and metamorphosis

Reading through Time: 3 moments

The festival opens this particular weekend in the Italian associated with Reggio Emilia, featuring exhibitions by Mary Ellen Mark, Ken Grant, Carmen Winant, Hoda Afshar, Guanyu Xu and more

“In the midst of winter, I found there was clearly within me an invincible summer… No matter how hard the planet pushes against me, within me, there’s something more powerful – something better, pressing right back. ” So says a quote by People from france philosopher Albert Camus (1913–1960) – a sentiment that inspired the theme with this year’s Fotografia Europea happening: An Invincible Summer.  

Opening in the northern German city of Reggio Emilia this particular weekend, the festival comes after two years of the Covid-19 outbreak, as well as widespread social plus political unrest around the world. Camus’ proposition is an invitation with regard to viewers to reflect on the particular “forces that drive us as individuals” in this brand new reality.  

“[Camus] didn’t like the word ‘hope’, which in his phrases is ‘tantamount to resignation – and to live is just not to be resigned’, ” states co-artistic director Tim Clark (also editor of one thousand Words) .   “His form of wish was rooted in intelligence, joy, beauty and individual freedom… As curators, we’re asking ourselves: what does this mean to resist today? How has that already been documented and depicted via contemporary photography? And in what ways does that provide for the surface individuals, stories plus trajectories that show some sense of defiance despite the adversity? ”

Guanyu Xu, The Dining Room, 2018 © the artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery.

Chloé Jafé, No title. the recruits welcome of the bosses after a reunion. 2016, Tochigi © Chloé Jafé

After postponing an edition in 2020, festival organisers approached Clark simon to take a position as co-artistic director alongside Walter Guadagnini, director of Camera in Torino. “It’s been only a super pleasurable experience, ” he says. “It’s a kind of mini paradise. ” Located in the wealthy northern province of Emilia-Romagna, the city of Reggio Emilia is known as the birthplace of the Italian flag, and is characterised by grand general public buildings and leafy recreational areas. The festival’s main centre occupies the “vast, sprawling” grounds of a 16th centuries monastic complex – Chiostri di San Pietro – where artists such as Mary Ellen Mark, Nicola Lo Calzo, Carmen Winant plus Chloé Jafé will display full bodies of work.  

Reggio Emilia and its particular neighbouring cities of Bologna, Parma and Modena “aren’t ‘typical’ Italian cities”, says Clark, referring to the cultural centres of Rome, Florencia and Venice. “But there is certainly so much to say about them… The region is relatively wealthy, left wing, and they invest and care deeply about the function of art in modern society and culture. ” 

The particular festival is supported with the municipality of Reggio Emilia and the Fondazione Palazzo Magnani, which runs its own exhibit programme throughout the year. “It’s appealing to see the potential of what can happen when you’ve got all of the politicians on board, committing to unlocking spaces, being enthusiastic, championing photography and backing your vision, ” says Clark. “Historically, it’s not something I have seen a whole lot in the UK in a festival level. ”

Hoda Afshar, Untitled, from the series Talk the Wind, Iran (2015-2020) © Hoda Afshar.

“We’re able to bring together a collection of photographic projects that are lovely, at times poetic, and which offer slow considerations on community and cultures. Seeing all of them together, ricocheting off each other, I hope they resolve into an intellectual and innovative reawakening following the pandemic. ”

Seiichi Furuya, through the series “Last Trip to Venice 1985”, Venice, 1985 © Seiichi Furuya, courtesy by Chose Commune.

The city has “all the good ingredients”: “the excitement, the resources, the assistance, the spaces, and the spending budget – not to mention great food and weather, with all the venues in easy walking distance. ” And the programme won’t dissatisfy either. Under the umbrella from the theme ‘An Invincible Summer’, the exhibitions are underpinned by notions of metamorphosis and transformation. “A great deal of these projects relate to the courage to resist, to persist, to see with brand new eyes, and in many cases to face oneself, ” says Clark.  

Highlights include Carmen Winant’s found images of social dissent, and Guanyu Xu’s monumental exhibition of his celebrated series Temporarily Censored Home. These collages had been secretly installed in his conventional parents’ house, and speak to Xu’s experience of being a gay man in China. The vast images will hang from the ceilings of the Chiostri di San Pietro.

Open fire on World © Carmen Winant.

Elsewhere, Japan photographer Seiichi Furuya exhibits an intense and highly personal body of work, 1st Trip to Bologna 1978 / Last Trip to Venice 1985. Published by Consider Commune earlier this year, it revisits the first and final vacations he spent with his spouse before her untimely demise. The exhibition seeks in order to echo the book’s dual narrative in an emotionally billed exploration of the role associated with memory in experiences of love and loss.

There is certainly something for everyone at this celebration. It presents a huge variety associated with photographic expressions, from a range of territories, generations and points of views. From contemporary projects like Hoda Afshar’s Speak the Wind , to traditional documentary work by Mary Ellen Mark and Ken Grant. “We’re capable to bring together a set of photographic tasks that are beautiful, at times graceful, and which offer slow factors on society and cultures, ” says Clark. “Seeing them together, ricocheting away from each other, I hope they deal with into an intellectual and creative reawakening following the outbreak. ”

Fotografia Europea takes place between 29 April and 12 June 2022 in Reggio Emilia, Italia.  

Marigold Warner

Online Editor

Marigold Warner joined the Uk Journal Photography in April 2018, and currently holds the position of Online Editor. She studied English Reading and History of Art on the University of Leeds, accompanied by an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London. Her work has been published by game titles including the Telegraph Magazine, Huck, Gal-dem, Disegno, and the Designers Journal.

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