Photo Vogue 2020: A new festival for a new world

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The fifth edition of Vogue Italia’s annual photography festival moves online due to Covid-19 while maintaining its commitment to exploring ethics, aesthetics and photographic futures

Returning in November, the fifth instalment of Vogue Italia’s Photo Vogue Festival sees events and exhibitions move beyond their regular home of Milan into a new digital space. The festival shifts online to prioritise safety and accessibility, however, its central themes of community, solidarity and empathy reflect and explore the current social and cultural landscape impacted by Covid-19. 

The full programme will be accessible to a far wider audience than in previous years due to the online nature, with viewers able to register for digital festival talks from 12 November and attend exhibitions digitally from 19 November. “I’ve been imagining something really creative, magical,” reveals Alessia Glaviano, senior photo editor of Vogue Italia and director of the festival, ahead of its opening. “On the web, we can do anything. I mean, why would I want to just [show] a white room to viewers?” The digital platform will host two online exhibitions, live digital events, talks, Zoom parties, portfolio reviews and projections. “The good part is that it’s not just us at a location,” continues Glaviano. “We’re here, it’s free, and it’s open to everyone.” Select exhibition highlights are also on show outdoors in the Giardini di Porta Venezia, Milan. 

“I do believe that fashion photography can be a tool to change perception”

Alessia Glaviano, director of Photo Vogue

From the series ​GrandMaMa​ © Miloushka Bokma.
From the series ​GrandMaMa​ © Miloushka Bokma.

The theme of community runs through All in This Together, an exhibition showcasing 30 photographers chosen from the online initiative Photo Vogue Open Call. All in This Together explores universal and individual interpretations of communities and togetherness, while simultaneously reflecting on themes of isolation and loneliness. The 30 selected works reflect a range of perspectives and artistic visions. A jury of experts, including Alfedro De Stefano and Azu Nwagbogu, selected the exhibiting photographers who include Amber Pinkerton, Cécile Smetana Baudier and Julia Fullerton-Batten.

'Zaina', 2019 © Ruth Ossai
'Zaina', 2019 © Ruth Ossai
'Artemis Duffy', 2020 © Camila Falquez.
'Artemis Duffy', 2020 © Camila Falquez.

Staying true to the festival’s commitment to championing socially conscious photography, the second exhibition, In the Picture – Shifting Perspectives in Fashion Photography, sees Photo Vogue Festival collaborate with four contemporary fashion photographers: Alexandra von Fuerst, Camila Falquez, Nadine Ijewere and Ruth Ossai. The four practitioners explore the current landscape of fashion photography and employ explorations of gender, race and womanhood to facilitate important conversations within the festival and beyond it. “I do believe that fashion photography can be a tool to change perception,” says Glaviano, referencing the genre’s ability to subvert the often problematic aesthetics associated with it. Along with exhibiting their work, the four artists have also self-curated a collective exhibition space, encouraging dialogues across new digital environments. 

With two free exhibitions and various events open to the public, the latest Photo Vogue will be its biggest to date; the event still maintains its philosophy of championing conscious contemporary photography, but this time anyone can attend.

Both exhibitions are open online from 19 November 2020, with outdoor displays across Milan running until 22 November.

Isaac Huxtable

Isaac Huxtable joined the British Journal of Photography in October 2020, where he is currently the Editorial Assistant. Prior to this, he studied a BA in History of Art at the Courtauld Instititue of Art, London.