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FotoFest 2004 - Water
July 14, 2003

For Immediate Release

For information and Visuals Contact:
Vinod Hopson
Exhibitions and Press Coordinator
713-223-5522 ext. 18, Fax 713-223-4411

Marta Sanchez Philippe
International Press Coordinator
713-223-5522 ext. 16
For French and Spanish Inquiries

FotoFest 2004 - Water
FotoFest 2004 Focuses on International Water Issues
for its Twentienth Anniversary Biennial.

March 12, 2004 - April 12, 2004
Houston, Texas

HOUSTON, TEXAS (June 20, 2003) – FotoFest announces its Tenth International Biennial Month of Photography and Photo-Related Arts, Friday March 12 - Monday April 12, 2004.

FotoFest 2004 will explore one of the world’s most important and least understood issues – WATER.

Water is the global resource that is becoming the main determinant to human survival and economic development. Water is not only essential to life, it is also an inspiration for art. Across cultures and through history, water has been a stimulus for creative and spiritual expression. Water is also an endangered resource.

To provoke new public awareness about the state of Water in the world and projections for the future, FotoFest is making WATER the focus of the 2004 Biennial and three of its major 2004 programs – Exhibitions and Art Installations curated and commissioned by FotoFest; the Film and Video series with collaborating media arts organizations; and, the Public Forum with Rice University on Water - Art and Science.

The FotoFest Biennial is a citywide event with over 120 participating organizations. It is the oldest, continuous international photographic arts event of its kind in the United States.

FotoFest is opening the Tenth Biennial with a Downtown celebration, including exhibitions, music, performances, and large-scale projections.

FotoFest’s international search for artwork on Water and its open submissions process have brought forth hundreds of works from all over the world. From these works, FotoFest will create 10-15 exhibitions. The exhibitions will deal with Water from many perspectives: as an environmental resource; as a spiritual force; as a historical pathway for people and cultures; as an object of commerce; as a reflection of beauty; and as a repository of life and death.

The 2004 Biennial continues FotoFest’s commitment to presenting mixed and new media work alongside classical photography. In addition to the exhibits organized by FotoFest, independently curated exhibits are being presented by museums, commercial art galleries, and alternative spaces across Houston and Galveston. See the FotoFest Web Site for current list of Participating Spaces,

Five FotoFest exhibits about Water in the U.S. West, China, Latin America, and Russia are confirmed at this time. Among them are:

Water in the West – the history and politics of water use in the arid U.S. West. This is a 14-year collaboration between eleven U.S. artists: Laurie Brown, Robert Dawson, Terry Evans, Geoffrey Fricker, Peter Goin, Wanda Hammerbeck, Sant Khalasa, Mark Klett, Ellen Land-Weber, Sharon Stewart, Martin Stupich. The project documents and interprets what is happening to water in the western United States. This project includes documentary photography, digital prints and mixed media installations.

Memorías del Agua, The Orinoco – the cultural heritage of a river. The four-part mixed media installation work by Venezuelan artist Edgar Moreno examines the history, culture, and economics of one of Latin America’s most important and legendary rivers and its connections to the Amazon.

Three Gorges Dam – the issue of dams. U.S. photographer Steven Benson’s much acclaimed project documents, in photographs and words, the construction of the world’s largest and most controversial public works project. Benson profiles China’s Yangtze River, the region, environmental issues, and the people affected by the construction of this monumental dam.

City of Shadows and St. Petersburg, City of Water – Water in the urban landscape. Two contemporary St. Petersburg photographers, Andrei Chezhin and Alexei Titarenko, explore the relation of Water to life and culture in the great city built by Peter the Great out of the marshlands of the Neva River.

Aguas Baldías [Barren Waters] – Water as political metaphor. Contemporary Cuban artist Manuel Piña’s conceptual work on Havana’s malecón, the famous seawall that overlooks the Caribbean and the mystical pathway of escape from one land to another.

Shipbreaking - Huge ocean-going steel ships are the focus of Canadian artist Edward Burtynsky's large scale dramatic color images of the dis-menberment of these ships on the tidal flats of Bangladesh.

Works from Japan, England, Argentina, France, Germany, Latin America, Korea, and the U.S. are under consideration. FotoFest also plans to commission new works and site-specific work in relation to the role of water in Houston life.

In addition to its exhibits, FotoFest is developing, for the first time, an extensive film and video series paralleling the scope of the exhibitions and installations. The three to five-week series, from early March through mid-April, is being done in collaboration with well-known Houston film, video, and television venues, including Rice University Media Center, Aurora Picture Show, Microcinema International, Southwest Alternate Media Project (SWAMP), and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Film Department. A separate press release is available on the FotoFest 2004 Film and Video program.

April 2 - 3, 2004. RICE UNIVERSITY

With Rice University, FotoFest is sponsoring a two-day Public Forum to address international, national, and local Water issues.

The forum brings together experts in science, philosophy, and art to look at the state of Water in the world today and projections for the future. The purpose of the forum is to disseminate new information and ideas about the nature of Water and its role in our lives. Through the forum, FotoFest hopes to provoke new ways of thinking about Water and what Water itself needs to perform its life-giving functions on earth.

The forum is being planned with three inter-disciplinary faculty centers at Rice University- The Center for the Study of Society and the Environment; The Environmental and Energy Systems Institute; and The Shell Center for Sustainability. The conference will feature resource economists, bio-engineers, ethicists and philosophers, legal experts, activists, policy makers, artists, and urban designers.

Internationally known keynote speakers will address major international policy issues on Water. Films, projections, music, and narrative works will provide a framework for the speakers and panels. Selected exhibit tours and presentations will be done by artists in conjunction with the forum.

The forum will be held on the campus of Rice University. A detailed description of events and participants will be available in fall 2003.

March 12 - 25, 2004. The Warwick Hotel

The first two weeks of the 2004 Biennial will feature FotoFest’s popular and expanded portfolio review program known as The International Meeting Place. The Meeting Place remains the largest program of its kind in the world. For the Meeting Place, FotoFest brings art professionals and collectors from museums, publishing houses, galleries, and photography events across the world to Houston to view the work of artists. Registration for 300+ participants in the Meeting Place begins summer 2003.

For further details about the Meeting Place, please see the FotoFest 2004 brochure or the FotoFest web site,

The Meeting Place has been a launching pad for the careers of many artists. In conjunction with the Meeting Place, FotoFest will present the 2004 Discoveries of the Meeting Place exhibit featuring ten outstanding artists selected by curator/reviewers from the FotoFest 2002 Meeting Place.

The 2004 Discoveries exhibit will highlight the work of Sian Bonnell (UK), Vincent Cianni (New York, USA), Brian Finke (New York, USA), Bill Jorden (New York, USA), Thomas Kellner (Germany), Elaine Ling (Ontario, Canada), Boris Missirkov and Georgi Bogdanov (Bulgaria), Leo Nash (California, USA), Simon Norfolk (UK), and Dominic Rouse (France).

March 16, 2004 and (repeated) March 21, 2004. The Warwick Hotel

FotoFest is organizing two one-day Artist Workshops with well-known photographic art consultant Mary Virginia Swanson and a panel of photographic art experts. The workshops focus on career planning for artists, Web site design, presentation and promotion of work, audience outreach, current changes in the photographic art marketplace, and international opportunities for artists. The workshops are held at The Warwick Hotel. Please check the FotoFest 2004 brochure or Web site,, for updated information.

March 16, 2004. The Warwick Hotel

FotoFest’s Fine Print Auction takes place the first week of FotoFest 2004 with Sotheby’s Vice President of Photography, Denise Bethel, as auctioneer.

The FotoFest Auction is known for providing a rare opportunity to acquire important work from artists around the world. Over 100 works of contemporary U.S. and international artists are available to collectors. The preview Auction exhibition will take place in early March. Please consult the FotoFest Web site,, for undated informaion.

To increase public understanding about Water, FotoFest’s award-winning education program, Literacy Through Photography (LTP), will incorporate Water projects in its 2003-2004 school-based programs. The LTP programs reach over a thousand students a year in Houston-area public schools.

The LTP curriculum on Water will be sent to all LTP programs with a special focus on LTP collaborations with Project GRAD, Houston and the Harris County Department of Education. For the 2004 Biennial, public displays of student photographs and writing about Water will be held at locations throughout the Houston area, including the Harris County Department of Education headquarters and Minute Maid Park, during the Astros 2004 baseball season.

FotoFest’s LTP program is a school-based program that uses photography to strengthen classroom learning. FotoFest trains teachers and provides cameras to students following a 27-lesson curriculum on photography and writing. Students develop photo essays on self-portraiture, family, community, and dreams and then write about the pictures. The program stimulates students to express themselves in new and exciting ways.

LTP has operated for the past 12 years in grades 3–12 in Houston-area public schools as well as four other Texas cities and counties, Denver, CO, Asheville, NC, and Oklahoma City, OK. Currently, the program is working with over 2,000 students a year in 32 schools. For further information, see the Literacy Through Photography education section on the FotoFest Web site.

Special sponsors for FotoFest 2004 at this time are Continental Airlines, the official airline of FotoFest and FotoFest 2004; Axiom Design, Houston - 2004 publications; The Warwick Hotel; GoBase2 – Web design and Internet programs; City of Houston Convention and Entertainment Facilities Department; City of Houston and Texas Commission on the Arts through the Cultural Arts Council and of Houston/Harris County; The Brown Foundation, Inc. Houston; The Clayton Fund; Eleanor and Frank Freed Foundation; Margaret Regan and Fletcher Thorne-Thomsen Jr.

A complete list of FotoFest institutional funders is available and listed on sponsors

For more information on FotoFest 2004 Biennial programming, 2004 visuals, and forthcoming FotoFest publications, please contact Mr. Vinod Hopson, Exhibitions and Press Coordinator at 713/ 223-5522 ext 18 or email.