Small environments are sensitive to the slightest change and tend to have a broad interpretation of this. And the photography environment all over is a microcosm… To the superficial, outside observer, the fact that the artistic direction has undergone a paradigm shift between the third and fourth edition of the Landskrona Foto Festival is spectacular. It must be hiding something…
And yet, those who look a little more carefully at the 2016 programming may be able to note that it’s not a complete break from what has gone before. Not the essentials in any case. As was the case during the first three editions, arthouse photography lies at the nub of the matter. Contemporary photography, that of today, amidst the diversity of its formal proposals, in the extension of its aesthetic, ethical and, in a broader sense, political challenges. Obviously this does not preclude looking at the history, that of images like that of the world, since it can make one’s thought processes richer somehow. Nor does it preclude the presence of animated graphics, of video or of the installation, which are proposals that have come from artists who have matured in the practice of photography and who think about its intention. The means chosen are not neutral, but nor are they mere tools. The essentials, the meaning, the challenges, the function and the place of creation in a contemporary world will always continue to be coloured by dramatic crises.
However, changing artistic direction involves changes. In tastes, in networks, in the way of thinking and processing. It’s not about going against what has gone before but rather developing it, opening the field to determine the foundations in a more solid manner, so as to enable things to move forward.
For this we’ve tried to recreate the festival in terms of Landskrona’s overall plan with regards to photography. The city aims to become THE photography city in Sweden, Scandinavia indeed, and is duty bound to enter into dialogue with neighbouring geographical zones, from the Baltic States to Germany and from Russia to Holland. This must manifest itself. Be perceptible in the city. Hence the decision to leave the halls and rooms, adorn public space for extensive periods, as much in partners’ shop windows as structures set up in the parks, near buildings in which exhibitions are hatching. It is both a proposal for the visitor to discover the city and a practical consideration about what public space, so often privatised by advertising or market challenges, can and must be. It’s essential that this semi-staging of visual creation has meaning, on pain of becoming a mere decorative effect. For this reason, in this year of transition, which is also synonymous with experiments paving the way in future years to an even more considered outdoor programme following the resolving of technical complexities, from the staged image to be found near the Theatre, to that of the Citadel debuting at the festival, we consider the history, the document, in the form of both a testimony and a narrative whilst, outside, today’s artists are forcing us to think about the issues of climate change.
We’ve chosen not to develop a theme, which might have led us to get locked in, but rather to allow the criss-crossing of expressions we consider to be complementary. And finally, without it being a didactic desire, directions are appearing which show themselves to be utterly contemporary. Because the notions of identity, genre as much as me, because the issues of memory and because the relationship with nature are all current, they run across the programme.
We also wanted to really mark the fact that photography, images and their readers are affirmations of opinions. This is true from the choice (the production and interpretation of images is never simply the organisation of a succession of choices) of shot through to the methods of use, which are so numerous and so varied today. By inviting a gallery with a unique identity to exhibit, by asking a collector to show us a sample of the treasures garnered over more than quarter of a century, we wanted opinions to be expressed, which are not necessarily shared by ourselves, but which make sense. We’re convinced that it is through the confrontation and coexistence of different and complementary opinions that the approach of today’s images, a central issue that affects us all, can and must be enriched.
To take a step towards the affirmation of Landskrona as a ‘city of photography’ we’ve set out exhibitions with the Museum programme, on the premise of upcoming constructions which must be developed as far as possible in advance. We’re convinced that, if we want the city to become what it aspires to be in relation to image, its inhabitants must be targeted and appealed to. From the presence of works in the public space, for which we must consider further development possibilities, to the proliferation of participatory initiatives, of which we’re barely scratching the surface this year, we’d like to celebrate photography, as well as bringing to public attention the artists without whom the festival could not exist, create a feast for the eyes, stir up emotion, get people to think about the image and its current issues, transformations and possible future developments.
2016 is a step forward for Landskrona Foto Festival. It’s not a departure, but simply the hope of creating an ambitious socially-aware project for images.