Frames Blog Federico Serrani

European Photography 2023

11 May 2023

by Alessandra Lanza

Punctual as every year, this spring has brought with it a new edition of the European Photography Festival in Reggio Emilia, one of the most pleasant and interesting events in the sector – which, not surprisingly, won the 2022 edition of the Lucie Awards in New York as the best Photo Festival of the Year – and which succeeds with different artistic approaches in providing us with a faithful photograph of the world, and in particular of the continent, in which we live.

In fact, this year the theme is more “European” than usual, as the title declares: Europe Matters. Visions of a restless identity, dedicated to exploring an idea of ​​Europe and the peoples who inhabit it, through themes such as Brexit: Merrie Albion, the project by Simon Roberts, tells the story of the United Kingdom and explores what it means to be British in this historic moment. With Mónica De Miranda’s project The Island, through a counter-narrative constructed from the biographies of men and women of African descent living in Portugal, ingrained prejudices in society are revealed and standard notions of identity based on race and gender categories. The work of The Archive of Public Protests with You will never walk alone collects evidence of mass social activism, while Alessia Rollo, in Parallel Eyes, explores the rituals of places such as southern Italy, and Samuel Gratacap, with Bilateral, tells border lines and those trying to cross them. And these are just some of the many precious points of view collected.

The curators Tim Clark, editor 1000 Words & curator Photo London Discovery, the inevitable Walter Guadagnini, photography historian and Director of CAMERA – Italian Center for Photography in Turin, and Luce Lebart, photography historian, curator and co-author of the volume Une histoire global des femmes photographes, thus try to answer a question: “How do photography and contemporary photographers stimulate responses to the challenges and situations that European citizens are called to face?”, to reflect on the existence of a common European identity and how myth and memory shape or even strengthen our collective sense of belonging.

Bilateral, silkscreen on paper

Tickets and accreditations can be collected as always in the Cloisters of San Pietro, where I suggest you start tackling the exhibitions itinerary: it is the richest location and one that you really cannot miss. Upstairs you will find the projects already mentioned and other works, among which the work of photographer Yelena Yemchuk, Odesa, truly deserves a special mention, told in its contradictions starting from 2015 and until 2019, through the faces of the boys of the Military Academy of the city and its inhabitants: portraits of rare intensity capable of capturing us and creating the atmosphere around us as well. On the lower floor, a surprise, the retrospective dedicated to Sabine Weiss (born in 1924 and passed away in 2021, she was one of the main representatives of “humanist photography” which includes the best known Robert Doisneau, Willy Ronis or Edouard Boubat). The author herself helped curate the exhibition right up to the end, testifying to the passion of a lifetime and her humanity, evident not only in reportage, portraits and more personal works, but also in fashion and advertising.

Also not to be missed is the Palazzo dei Musei, with the projects, all very valid, by Giovane Fotografia Italiana #10 for the Luigi Ghirri Prize 2023, and with an exhibition dedicated to the vision of nature and gardens of the great masters, A foot in the ‘Eden. Luigi Ghirri and other gazes. Giardini in Europa and L’Architettura degli Alberi, which sees not only the photographer from Scandiano, but also works by Olivo Barbieri, Giovanni Chiaramonte, Joan Fontcuberta, Mimmo Jodice, Francesco Radino. From the Panizzi Library to the Gerra Space (where there are 115 ingenious portraits taken by Roberto Masotti of the best-known contemporary musicians from around the world), every place is worth a visit, but promise not to miss it, just because it’s a little further from the center , the exhibition hosted by the Maramotti Collection: in addition to No Home from War: Tales of Survival and Loss, the first solo exhibition in Italy of the English photojournalist Ivor Prickett with over fifty shots from conflict scenarios from 2006 to 2022, you can take the opportunity to enjoy the alienating paintings and the psychedelic colors of the painter Andriu Deplazes.

The beauty, for those who can stop for at least a weekend, is that in addition to the “official” exhibitions there is also a wide range of other minor exhibitions, hosted throughout the city, part of the OFF Circuit, of which a very useful map on the event website, to be interspersed with a portion oferbazzone and a nice glass of lambrusco. It is right to nourish the eyes and the mind, but the stomach and the spirit also always want their share.

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