HYBRIDS: “We are witnessing the forging of new realities”

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 The Amsterdam-based festival showcases artistic experimentation in the face of hybridisation and change 

How are artists navigating the changing global landscape, and what stories are they telling in this new world? Organised in collaboration with the photography platform Futures and the Melkweg Expo exhibition space, Hybrids: Forging New Realities as Counter-Narrative, is a festival built for Europe’s next generation of photographers, focusing on contemporary topics such as technological development, counter-information, and the role of the photographic medium today and tomorrow.

Futures, co-funded by the European Union, has been building a global photographic platform since 2017. The collective is composed of 14 core members, including British Journal of Photography, Fotofestiwal Lodz, PhotoEspaña and others, together empowering early and mid-career photographers and developing their community. In the festival’s new physical iteration’s main exhibition, 11 artists share works in response to impact of technology on the human and natural world. The 11 photographers, who are also members, were selected through an internal open call by curator Marina Paulenka, founder of biannual photo festival Organ Vida in Croatia, and former artistic director of Unseen Amsterdam.”Each artist deals with various issues fitting within the main thematic backbone; in this pressure cooker of hybridised experimentation, we are witnessing the forging of new realities each day,” she explains.

© Hien Hoang.

Each artist’s work explores the relationship between humankind and the contemporary world, yet notably, the relationship presented is not always a hostile one. The theme of ‘Hybridity’ runs through each piece, asking how our increasingly symbiotic relationship with technology could both hinder and develop us. Part of the main exhibition, Alexey Shlyk’s Swan Song – a site-specific installation – uses wallpaper, prints, video and sound looping in order to ask; which will prevail? The physical or the virtual? In Shifters by Marta Bogdanska, the artist traces the story of human and animal relationships, turning to the internet to archive animal usage by militaries, intelligence agencies, and the police force. In Carlos Alba’s Midnight Sun, the artist perceives light as a “colonisation” of darkness, investigating the human desire for technological brightness despite its ecological and psychological effects.

© Carlos Alba.

As well as the main exhibition, the festival includes a roster of workshops and panel discussions, which sees curators, researchers, scientists, sociologists, anthropologists, and ecologists join the photographic discussion. A second exhibition highlights the 68 new Futures talents – all nominated by Futures members – including work by British Journal of Photography’s own 2021 nominees and Ones To Watch artists Silvana Trevale, Billy Barralough, Sophie Gladstone, Tayo Adekunle and Mathieu Croizier.

Hybrids: Forging New Realities as Counter-Narrative, presents musings and reflections on some of contemporary culture’s  largest ideas. These concepts, from machine learning to cultural information processing, are explored through the medium of photography. Here, the camera becomes the methodology required to ask; where are we going?

Hybrids: Forging New Realities as Counter-Narrative is open from 10 September – 17 October at Melkweg Expo, Amsterdam. The virtual exhibition can be found here.

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.