The 2010 Biennial is the first in which FotoFest’s own exhibitions focus exclusively on
In the past fifty to seventy years, U.S. photography has influenced photographic expression
throughout the world. This influence is due not only to the relatively early approval
of photography as an art form in the United States—or the size of the U.S. marketplace
and the number of U.S. university and college programs giving degrees in photographic
study—but also to the particular character of the visual "language” that emerged in
U.S. photographic practice, and its acceptance by important individual curators and art
institutions. At a time when the United States is once again at the center of international attention
and analysis, 2010 seemed to be an appropriate time to look at
the United States through the eyes of contemporary U.S. artists and curators engaged
with photography and photo-based art.
In terms of art and photography, a possible prolonged period of creative give-and-take between China and its own cultural/political past, as well as between China and the rest of the world, appeared improbable until fifteen years ago. Today, there is not only a resurgence of new kinds of artistic expression in China but also the re-emergence of work and artists whose work and careers had been caught up in China’s political vicissitudes - individual artists and works that had essentially “disappeared” for decades.
The organization of Photography from China 1934-2008 for FOTOFEST2008 took this history into account. In designing these exhibition programs, we have created a framework that we hope will stimulate a longer and deeper look at the twentieth-century history of Chinese photography...
Throughout the world, freshwater supplies are threatened with contamination and over-use. The world is now using 52 percent of the available fresh Water. Water consumption is growing at twice the rate of population. Yet 1.2 billion people still do not have access to clean Water.
Water is one of the principal determinants of human survival and economic development. As the basis for all organic life, Water is also an essential part of spiritual practice throughout the world and an important catalyst for creative expression.
"If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in Water." - Dr. Loren Eiseley The Immense Journey, 1946
An ambitious 2-part program of new technology / mixed media and classical photography, reaching across 130 years of photo-related art.
Through the juxtaposition of black and white classical photography with the work of artists who are transforming silver gelatin print into digitized imagery, mixing photography with other media and using the fluid medium of the Internet, FotoFest examined the relationships between past and future in art.
New directions in cross-disciplinary work and contemporary experiments with historical photographic techniques. Exhibitions ranged from site-specific mixed media installations to classical black and white photography.
FotoFest commissions and creates 18 exhibits: a groundbreaking exhibit on contemporary Slovak staged photography; contemporary photography from Mexico; photographic art from South Africa, with one of the first U.S. presentations of world-renowned South African artist, William Kentridge; Finnish master photographer Pentti Sammallahti; Brazilian artist Eustaquio Neves; large-scale contemporary Italian landscape photography; and historical Peruvian work by Eugene Courret
As part of the The Sixth International Festival of Photography, FotoFest creates an exhibit with Susan Meiselas from her book project Kurdistan, In the Shadow of History and exhibits The Mountain People of Yunan Province, an exhibit by previously unknown Chinese photographer, Wu Jialin, who comes to Houston from mainland China. Wu Jialin becomes internationally known as a result of this exhibit.
In Spring 1994 FotoFest presents the first group exhibition of post-revolutionary Cuban contemporary photographers from the island.
FotoFest produces American Voices, Latino Photography in the U.S., a ground-breaking exhibition of contemporary photographic art by artists from the three oldest and largest Spanish language cultures in the U.S. A Symposium on Latino photography and culture in the U.S. includes Latino artists and scholars as well as cultural leaders from Cuba, Puerto Rico and Mexico.
FotoFest creates The Global Environment, a multi-faceted exhibition featuring still photography, sculptural installations and a six-computer work station on the geography, population and natural resources of the earth. FotoFest creates The Earth Forum computer station with the Houston Museum of Natural Science. After 1994,FotoFest donates The Earth Forum to The Museum of Natural Science where it is used as an earth study center training 10,000 public school children a year since 1995.
FotoFest creates and commissions 13 exhibits by European artists and 15 exhibits by Latin American artists to reflect
important political, economic, and cultural/ aesthetic directions
on both continents.
Among the European highlights are Charles Marville’s vintage
prints showing the rebuilding of Paris from 1865-1880; early
editions of the famous Soviet magazine – USSR under
Construction; 1930s work from the Bauhaus Archive; avantgarde Czech artist and designer Karel Teige; a hidden archive
of the World War II Hunger Winter photographs from The
Netherlands; contemporary Black British photographers;
Spanish artist Tony Catany's work on The Mediterranean;
contemporary Soviet photography from Soviet Manifesto;
and Polish artist Wojiech Prazmowski.
All exhibits from Latin America are new to U.S. audiences – the
first portfolio of war photography in Latin America, The War of
the Triple Alliance 1865-1870 ; the Catholic legacy, Guatemala;
exploration and opening of Brazil by Marc Ferrez; pioneer
women photographers from Argentina; a secret archive of
the War in Salvador; contemporary work from Argentina and Uruguay; color work from Brazil; contemporary conceptual
work from Colombia and Venezuela. Brazilian ambassador
to the U.S., French, Dutch and Argentine cultural officials,
and the Director of Bauhaus Archives in Berlin come to
Houston to open FotoFest exhibitions.
FotoFest launches the third Biennial at The George R, Brown Convention Center with replica of Berlin Wall. The Biennial
salutes historic changes in Central and Eastern Europe.
FotoFest transforms Houston’s Convention Center into an immense art gallery with 27 exhibits from 22 countries.
There are inaugural exhibits from Czechoslovakia and
Bulgaria as well as a special behind-the-scenes look at the
rise of Vaclav Havel and the Czechoslovak Velvet Revolution.
FotoFest inaugurates three groundbreaking historical and contemporary Japanese exhibits. Princess Christina of
Sweden opens FotoFest’s exhibit of contemporary Swedish
photography. Opening of Nelson Mandela exhibit coincides
with Mandela’s release from prison. Collaboration with
Eastman Kodak brings the predecessor of CD technology to
Houston – a laser disk showing over 6,000 images from the
portfolios of 300 international photographers.
FotoFest inaugurates the first citywide international Biennial of Photography in the United States, FOTOFEST1986.
FotoFest curates and commissions 30 exhibitions for the First Biennial. Six Houston museums, 14 art spaces, 27 commercial galleries, and 17 corporate buildings show photography from 16 countries. The Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH) opens acclaimed exhibit of Robert Frank by MFAH curator, Anne Tucker. 110 international and North American curators, collectors, publishers, and photographic opinion makers come to FotoFest to review photographers’ portfolios at The Meeting Place.
The Meeting Place becomes one of the hallmarks of FotoFest, widely replicated by photo events in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Germany, Mexico, Rumania, Slovakia, the U.K. and the U.S. The Meeting Place has launched the careers of thousands of photographers since 1986. Fifteen years later, 350 photographers’ portfolios are reviewed by 120 museum curators, gallery owners, magazine editors, and representatives of photo agencies, collectors and publishers – from the U.S. and around the world.