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Taking Houston to the World

June 7, 2006

The U.S.–based Biennial of Photography, FOTOFEST2006, is taking its shows around the world. FotoFest’s twentieth anniversary Biennial, which just closed in Houston, was one of the most successful to date.

“The numbers are pure Texas,” Newsweek Magazine wrote about FotoFest’s first Biennial in 1986. In 2006, there were 230,000 people; 716 artists; 25 countries; and 200 art events across the city of Houston. Editorial coverage about FOTOFEST2006 extends from Moscow to Beijing, Buenos Aires to Berlin, New York to Seoul, reaching over five million people.

This fall, one of Britain’s best known festivals will feature the widely praised video installation given its world premiere in Houston at FOTOFEST2006 -The Sound of Silence by internationally known artist Alfredo Jaar. The work was commissioned by FotoFest. It will show in October 2006 at the Brighton Photo Biennial.

In Italy, FOTOFEST2006 artist Eric Klemm and seven artists “discovered” at FotoFest’s famed portfolio review program, the Meeting Place, will be highlighted at the Italian festival Foto & Photo near Milan this year. They were selected by Italian curator Enrica Vigano during her stay in Houston for FOTOFEST2006.

In Beijing, a group of curators and artists are organizing MeetingPlace, FotoFest Beijing 2006 for 300 Chinese photographers. Traveling to Houston for FOTOFEST2006 and excited by what they saw at FOTOFEST2006, they asked FotoFest to re-create part of the Biennial in China later this year. An article published by a leading Chinese Photography Magazine and an Internet blog about FotoFest and Houston organized by Chinese journalists and curators is bringing the Houston-based Biennial to tens of thousands of photography enthusiasts across China.

This August, at the Buenos Aires festival Encuentros Abiertos, young Latin American photographic artists will compete for Premio FotoFest (the FotoFest Prize), a scholarship to attend FotoFest’s 2008 Meeting Place in Houston.

“FotoFest is a breath of ethics and humanism…an extraordinary festival…” French critic Bruno Chalifour has written about FOTOFEST2006 on the French website