Belfast Photo Festival 2020: XX-XY

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Returning this autumn, the 2020 edition of Northern Ireland’s premier visual arts festival celebrates the age of the female gaze in both online and offline events

What does it mean to frame the world through a woman’s eyes? How does the female perspective change the way we see? And why is it vital that we — as an industry, and as a society — keep fighting for women’s rights to reclaim their own narratives?

Belfast Photo Festival 2020 seeks to answer these questions through a diverse lineup of contemporary photography events centered around the female gaze this autumn. Recognising both how far we’ve come and how far we’ve yet to go to achieve gender equality in the visual arts, this year’s programme — titled XX-XY — takes place between 4-30 November 2020, shedding a truly contemporary light on the pivotal role female photographers play in creating culture.

Highlights include virtual talks such as “The Age of the Female Gaze” with Irish fashion photographer Holly McGlynn and multidisciplinary artist Nydia Blas, hosted by British Journal of Photography’s own Flossie Skelton; “The Depiction of the Female Figure in Photography” with Hannah Starkey and Dragan Jurisic, and “The Magic of the Everyday” with Guardian photography columnist Sean O’Hagan.

In exhibitions, Niamh Smith’s work will take viewers on a journey through lands of trauma and resilience; Christine Beynon’s transition and self-realisation through portraiture celebrates Transgender Awareness Week, and much more.

“Few media can capture the nuances and interplay of outward experiences and internal narratives like photography,” says Michael Weir, director of Belfast Photo Festival. “This year, the festival has taken its inspiration from the island of Ireland, exploring important issues of gender and racial equality; we’ll be highlighting how new generations of female photographers are transforming the medium, and investigating ways we can — and must — continue to push for parity at all levels of the industry.”