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FotoFest 1990, The International Month of Photography
Spring 1990

Yevgeni Pavlov. The Alternative, 1985. The New Soviet Photography Enlarge this photo
Notable exhibitions at the George R. Brown Convention Center:
Five Bulgarian Photographers
Chile: Seen from Within
Perspectives Real and Imaginary, Nineteen Contemporary Czechoslovak Photographers
Four Photographic Artists in Denmark
Mari Mahr: Isolated Incidents
Meat Abstract, Helen Chadwick
Raymond Moore: 49 Prints
Photography Has the Right to Make You Think, Contemporary German Photography from the Collection of F.C. Grundlach
Perspectives from India, Sunil Janah
Italian Photography, Marialba Russo and Franco Zecchin
Eikoh Hosoe: Photographs, 1951-1988
Journey to Nakaji, Daido Moriyama
Three Japanese Contemporaries: Michiko Kon, Ryuji Miyamoto, Toshio Shibata
Camera Art in Scotland Now
España Oculta, Christina García Rodero
The New Soviet Photography
Testimonies: Photography and Social Issues
America Worked, Dan Weiner
Bill Thompson, Berlin Wall Mural
Philip Jones Griffiths: Retrospective

Photographers' Photographers:
Six highly recognized photographers; Henri-Cartier Bresson, Giselle Freund, Mary Ellen Mark, Duane Michals, Inge Morath and Joel-Peter Witkin were asked to select one photographer who they felt deserved recognition but for one reason or another were no longer or had yet been recognized. Frank Horvat, Lyalya Kuznetsova, Edmund Teske, Gwen Thomas, Ferdinando Scianna, Pierre Verger and Letizia Battaglia were chosen.

After five years of negotiation, FotoFest was able to bring twenty-seven guests from Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and USSR to Houston with their exhibits. The consequences were significant. The Bulgarian photographers were sent on a lecture tour of U.S. Universities organized by FotoFest and sponsored by USIA and the Fulbright Commission. At the University of Missouri Journalism School they met representatives of the National Geographic. This resulted in a FotoFest/National Geographic/ University of Missouri sponsored workshop in Sofia, Bulgaria in the summer. Wendy Watriss, FotoFest's artistic director participated. This contact resulted in the National Geographic doing an article on Bulgaria. It also directly lead to the formation of a journalism school which in time lead to the founding of The American University in Bulgaria. The Czech photographers were sent on a similar tour. The Czech exhibition was sent to three sites in the U.S. along with a catalogue that was produced underground in Czechoslovakia for FotoFest.

The Hi-Tech Creative Center demonstrated the latest desktop publishing techniques; computer magazine and portfolio layouts, the use of laser color copiers, and video for the production of art photography. This center was advanced for its day and was supported by Canon and Sony.

In addition to the Meeting Place and the Hi-Tech Creative Center, FotoFest invited other arts organizations to collaborate. Writers and poets from the University of Houston's Creative Writing faculty presented material about photography; this included Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Howard who did a slide lecture on the photography of Lewis Carol and others.

The Alley Theater produced the Vaclav Havel play The Audience at the Convention Center. President Havel of Czechoslovakia sent a personal message to the people of Houston on a video tape. This was played before each performance. All of these activities were performed in front of a full replica of a section of the Berlin Wall, which had a forty foot panoramic photo of the wall in Berlin. The Da Camera Society string quartet, singers from the Grand Opera and other groups performed in front of this dramatic piece.

FotoFest sponsored a conference on Collecting Photography at the Convention Center that coincided with the Association of International Photography Art Dealers Convention (AIPAD) in Houston.

A Photographic Book Prize was created by FotoFest and submissions were received from all over the world. Bruce Gilden received the $5,000 prize for his book on Haiti.

The FotoFence that attracted so much attention in 1988 was enlarged. An 800 foot fence was erected in front of the George R. Brown Convention Center and hung with exhibits of special community. The Houston public was invited to use exhibit snapshots about family life in Houston on a first-come first-serve basis. The photos were donated to the Houston Public Library as a "time capsule". The second aspect of the FotoFence was the display of two groups of children's photographs. The first group included the photographs of 500 HISD school children who were part of the pilot Literacy Through Photographyâ (LTP) program. The second group was from a photography contest for disadvantaged children organized by the Police Activities League (PAL).

In addition to FotoFest curated exhibits, there were 75 FotoFest sanctioned exhibits throughout the Houston area.

FotoFest sponsored an exhibit in Barnes Blackman Gallery, an African American exhibit space, of photography from the pre-apartheid South African magazine Drum. There were a number of photographs of Nelson Mandella several weeks before his long incarceration. By luck, the opening of the exhibit coincided with Mandella's release from prison after 27 years.


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