October 23, 2020 - FotoFest - 2020-2021 programs reimagined
October 23, 2020


Digital rendering of Jamal Cyrus, Nuwaubic Connections, 2020. Installation view at FotoFest, Houston, TX. Commissioned by FotoFest, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Inman Gallery, Houston, TX

2020-2021 programs reimagined

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FotoFest announces its 2020-2021 exhibitions, public programs, and the expansion of its online and virtual programming in response to the ongoing pandemic. FotoFest has adapted its programming to virtual and outdoor spaces, reimagining the possibilities of how the organization can effectively fulfill its mission within current public-safety guidelines.

FotoFest’s exhibitions resume in November with the launch of Public Life, a series of outdoor art exhibitions presented on street-facing facades of buildings located throughout Arts District Houston. Large-scale vinyl photo banners, featuring works by global and Texas artists, including Jamal Cyrus, Eric Gyamfi and Zina Saro-Wiwa, featured in FotoFest's Biennial 2020 exhibition African Cosmologies, will examine relationships between publicness, time, and community—concepts that have been challenged and redefined in 2020 by COVID-19, political unrest, and civil rights movements around the world. Amid turbulent times, FotoFest presents artists who document stories of strength and perseverance in the face of challenging cultural events, oppressive ideology, and histories of the politicization of the personal. The first exhibition in the series, Public Life: Distance and Diaspora, is on view November 14, 2020 through February 14, 2021. Subsequent exhibitions in the series will run through August 2021, and a new FotoFest mobile app will be launched to accompany the exhibitions.

This reimagining includes the presentation of free virtual discussions, Creative Conversations, with over 22 artists, curators, cultural critics, and art researchers to date, including artists featured in the 2020 Biennial exhibitions: Faisal Abdu’Allah, Laura El-Tantawy, leo and Shobun Baile, Rosana Paulino, and Aida Silvestri. The program series has also included cultural critic David Levi Strauss, academics Macarena Gómez-Barris and André Brock Jr., poet Roberto Tejada, and curators and organizers Peggy Sue Amison, Azu Nwagbogu, and Legacy Russell. Creative Conversations continue with events scheduled into 2021. Upcoming conversations and an archive of past programs may be found on the FotoFest website at www.fotofest.org.

FotoFest’s Meeting Place Portfolio Review for Artists reemerges online in March 2021, exclusively offering artists that had previously registered for reviews in Houston, postponed by the coronavirus crisis, opportunities to share their work with international photography experts, decision-makers, and collectors via Zoom. The legacy of the Meeting Place over its 34-year history is one of fostering meaningful connections between photographers and people who can support their careers. FotoFest is proud to sustain that legacy by continuing the program and its support of artists and photographers in the face of the pandemic’s new challenges.

FotoFest is initiating a new Meeting Place scholarship program specifically for Black photographers in an effort to better reflect the global community of photographers. This is part of an organization-wide effort to make tangible and direct efforts to pursue genuine equity across FotoFest’s programs and reaffirm our belief that Black lives and Black artists matter. Further details of this scholarship program will be announced shortly.

FotoFest’s learning program, Literacy Through Photography (LTP), has taken steps to respond and adapt its program to changing times and educational norms, pivoting the roll-out of its newly revised curriculum for online and at-home learning. Originally designed for in-classroom use by students in 3rd through 8th grades, LTP’s new online learning platform and adapted curriculum allows for opportunities to reach students while learning from home in the Houston region and beyond. The Literacy Through Photography learning program and its curriculum are established and innovative writing, photography, and literacy tools that offer students a creative avenue for greater self-expression and exploration.

About FotoFest
Founded in Houston in 1983, FotoFest promotes international awareness of museum-quality photographic and new media art from around the world. The first and longest running photographic arts festival in the United States, the inaugural FotoFest Biennial was held in 1986. It is considered one of the leading international photography Biennials in the world.

An international platform for photographic and new media art, the FotoFest Biennial is known for the presentation of important new work and talent from around the world. The Biennial takes place citywide in Houston with participation from leading art museums, art galleries, non-profit art spaces, universities and civic spaces. The Biennial has an audience of 250,000 people from 34 countries. This audience includes a select group of 150 museum curators, gallerists, publishers, editors, photography collectors, directors of non-profit art spaces and international festivals from Asia, Europe, Latin America, Canada and the United States.

Funding for the development and presentation of FotoFest’s 2020-2021 programs comes from Houston Endowment; The Brown Foundation, Inc.; Texas Commission on the Arts; National Endowment for the Arts; City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance; The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation; The Wortham Foundation; Katy and Michael A. Casey; Nina and Michael Zilkha; the FotoFest Board of Directors; Sawyer Yards and Silver Street Studios; and generous donors to the FotoFest Annual Fund.

Major funding for FotoFest’s educational programming is provided by the Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation, and The Powell Foundation.

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