Derby is a small British city but once every two years it hosts a big event – the FORMAT Festival. Directed by the well-respected photography specialist Louise Fedotov-Clements and running since 2004, FORMAT has established a firm reputation for interesting international work, and FORMAT19 looks set to continue the good work with exhibitions spread across both Derby and another neighbouring city, Nottingham. Taking place next spring, FORMAT19 is themed FOREVER/NOW and takes on an interesting contemporary question – the role of documentary photography.
“In 2007, while the photography world was still grappling with the idea of photography as an interpretive, non-narrative, non-representational medium, writer Lucy Soutter wrote about the ‘expressive’ versus the ‘straight’ documentary photograph, insightfully characterising the then two sides of the debate,” runs the FORMAT19 press material.
“Since then photography has grown to encompass many manifestations of the ‘crooked’ image through hybrid forms and visual practises and no longer worries about narrative versus abstraction, expressive versus objective. The new generation of photographic artists rush towards the new, embracing the rapid transformation that technology and cultural exchanges bring to it.”
As such it’s not surprising to see that the lead exhibition, a group show titled Mutable/Multiple features the work of Max Pinckers, whose celebrated book Margins of Excess is a look at documentary photography in the ‘post-truth’ era. This show also includes work by Stefanie Moshammer, Amani Willett, Anne Golaz, Virginie Rebetez, and Edgar Martins and has been co- curated by Fedotov-Clements and Tim Clark to encourage “a further re-evaluation of the photographic narrative form”.
Other exhibitions in the festival include newly-commissioned work by Japanese artist Kensuke Koike, and exhibitions drawn from an open call which attracted 10,000 images from 47 countries; FORMAT19 will also host the premiere of SIXTEEN, a multimedia project that asked what it’s like to be 16 in Britain now. Put together by project director Craig Easton and editorial director Anne Braybon, SIXTEEN features work by sixteen photographers and film makers.
Also included is an exhibition of work by industrial photographer Maurice Broomfield curated by Martin Barnes, V&A senior curator of photographs, plus exhibitions by emerging photographers Camillo Pasquarelli, Sharbendu De, Lucia Sekerková, Synchrodogs, and Dylan Hausthor. Laura Pannack’s project Separation, which shows couples affected by the vote on Brexit and which was commissioned by BJP-linked organisation 1854 Media, will also be on show.
The festival opening weekend takes place from 14-17 March, and includes a Photo Book Market curated by Polycopies head honcho Sebastian Arthur Hau, a conference organised by the University of Derby, a portfolio review, and much more.
FORMAT19 is open from 15 March-14 April 2019 in venues across Derby and Nottingham. The opening weekend is from 15-17 March https://formatfestival.com