The 6th FORMAT International Photography Festival
Launched on 8 March, FORMAT13, the 6th FORMAT International Photography Festival, aptly torqued on the theme of Factory, to bring to view an amalgam of photographs, fresh and fervent, from across the globe. The exhibition playfully unveils the inner dynamics of mass production, a common denominator shared representatively by both Derby – an industrial hub – as its venue, and photography – reputed for 'mechanical reproductions' – as its favoured medium.
Louise Clements curated the grand show that comprised a promising collection of exhibitions that exploited and chronicled thematically the ideas that evolved overtime around the central and controversial concept of Factory. Exhibitions included Notes Home from the Archive of Modern Conflict; the UK premier of Album Beauty from the collection of Erik Kessels; a FACTORY survey from the Piece of Cake Collective; a new exhibition featuring an intervention by Melinda Gibson in conjunction with Thomas Sauvin's Silvermine collection from Beijing and Still Waters, a special commission by Brian Griffin, one of UK's most influential and creative portrait photographers. Factory, the base of industrial revolution, and its indispensable components, the temporally changing modes of labour, production and market variously found expression in the photographic manufactures; presenting a visual documentation of a culture that formed progressively around the indomitable and multifaceted growth of the 'industry'. Disused factories played host to these exhibitions, according a feigned authentic aura to the theme which in certain exhibits was further consolidated by crafty lighting and ambient music.
Realism was more often than not overcast with satiric mischief, the creative hallmark of the contemporary artist as illustrated by the works of Brian Griffin, Chris Coekin and Erik Kressel. However, collectively, the entire ensemble stood out as a testimony to the relevance and the sustained power of the ‘factory’ as a politically decisive and divisive factor even in the age of globalized commerce and digitized hyper-communication.
The FORMAT International Photography Festival was founded by Louise Clements and Mike Brown in 2004 and has established itself as a world class biennale and a must see event in the photographic calendar, which drew over 100,000 visitors in 2011 alone.
Showcased in Derby, a UNESCO World Heritage site, the festival has built its reputation through championing an international potpourri of photography, and especially, by introducing new talents from China, the Indian sub-continent and the Middle East to the UK audience. Zhang Xiao was the winner of the 2011 HSBC Photography Award and Iranian photographer Mehrani Atashi with her portraits of Tehran primiered at FORMAT11. Atashi is currently showing her series Zourkhaneh in the V&A's exhibition Light from the Middle East: New Photography.
Since its inaugural festival in 2005, showcasing Don McCullin, Tom Wood and Pavel Banka via FORMAT09 which hosted works by American filmmaker David Lynch to excavating street photography in FORMAT11, FORMAT has unstintingly foregrounded an exploration of contemporary practices in photography by means of a wide and varied oeuvre by the best in the trade, drawing on both the new and the old names. Supported by festival patron Joel Meyerowitz, FORMAT13 further extended on the festival's tradition of showing the best of international photography.
The FORMAT International Photography Festival has always provided opportunities for emerging photographers to bring their works to the viewing public and continues with this legacy through its EXPOSURE Open competition. Entries for FORMAT13's Exposure Open were submitted from over 30 countries, a sure sign of an increasing le global network.
With an express aim to forge a bridge between practitioners from both hemispheres, FORMAT has earned credence for being the most acclaimed international platform for photographers and likewise a conduit for the audience to engage in the contemporary visual culture's global dialogue presented all under the same roof, namely, Derby.
The 6th edition of the biannual FORMAT International Photography Festival ran in Derby UK between March 8 and April 7, 2013.