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Casting an eye over the year ahead in photography

2 January 2020

It’s exciting and energising to see older and underrepresented female photographers who have perhaps been neglected in the history of photography to date and who have major institutional moments ahead in 2020. Claudia Andujar, who, for more than 50 years has devoted herself to photographing the Yanomami, one of Brazil’s largest indigenous groups, will have her largest exhibition to date at Fondation Cartier, in collaboration with Instituto Moreira Salles in São Paulo (30 January–10 May). At Photoworks, my team have been working with Ursula Schulz-Dornburg on her exhibition currently at Maison Européenne de la Photographie (until 16 February), which will tour in 2020. In ‘Zone Grise: the land in between’, the artist explores boundaries and borders, architecture and the built environment, and the human impact on the landscape.

Erevan-Gyumri (2004), from the series Transit Orte, Armenien, Ursula Schulz-Dornburg.

Erevan-Gyumri (2004), from the series Transit Orte, Armenien, Ursula Schulz-Dornburg. Photo: © Ursula Schulz-Dornburg

I’d suggest going further afield than the usual European circuit for photography festivals to add to your cultural calendar. Tbilisi Photo Festival is one not to miss as it heads into its 11th edition in the autumn, firmly placing the Caucasus on the map for lens-based practices. Last year, lesser-known projects were presented alongside seminal historical works by Nan Goldin, MAPS Images and Weronika Gesicka. Also in the autumn, LagosPhoto would be on my list to visit – it’s a chance to see a brilliant range of artists from all over Africa and beyond.

A new festival on the scene will launch in Melbourne in the spring. Photo 2020 looks notable for its interesting collaborations with city-wide institutions, a collaboration with Magnum on exhibition and artist development, and projects from a wide range of Australian and international photographers. Like us, they are also thinking about new ways to show photography, taking it out into a city and into some unusual and exciting spaces to allow the work to reach a diverse set of audiences.

Adelyn, Ash Wednesday, New Orleans, Louisiana (2000; from the series Sleeping by the Mississippi), Alex Soth.

Adelyn, Ash Wednesday, New Orleans, Louisiana (2000), from the series Sleeping by the Mississippi, Alex Soth. Courtesy Photo 2020

If I had to pick one place to visit for photography in the year ahead it would be Texas, where Autograph ABP director Mark Sealy is curating ‘African Cosmologies – Photography, Time and the Other’, which is the central programme of Houston’s FotoFest Biennial 2020 (7 March–19 April). It is the first time in the biennial’s 37-year history that the central exhibition will focus on artists of African origin and will include more than 30 individuals from across the continent and its diaspora – one of the world’s largest exhibitions of African photography.

Four Twins (1985), Rotimi Fani-Kayode. Courtesy Autograph ABP, London

Four Twins (1985), Rotimi Fani-Kayode. Courtesy Autograph ABP, London

For your New Year’s reading lists, make sure to pick up a copy of FOAM’s new talent issue, where you can read about some of the new thinkers and makers in the photography world, including George Selley, Luther Konadu and Hashem Shakeri. I’m also really excited about the next Photoworks Annual, which Typical Girls founding editor Jamila Prowse is editing for us as we mark a quarter of a century of our organisation. Or, online, why not take a look at Trigger, a new digital publication from the Museum of Photography (FOMU) in Antwerp.

Shoair Mavlian is director of Photoworks.

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