Copenhagen Photo Festival 2017 – Celebrating Photography

All Images by Angélique Sanossian
Written by Angélique Sanossian
Edited by Nicol Savinetti

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It took me a while to visit the Copenhagen Photo Festival this year and I finally managed to do it on 10 June 2017.

It’s one of the events in Copenhagen I try not to miss since moving here almost 3 years ago now. I used to help organize and decide on the right location for the Aleppo Photo Festival in Syria, where more than 600 works of art would be exhibited in Syria’s second biggest city … they all used to be sent by snail-mail … it’s kind of the same concept  in Copenhagen and I think in many other cities as well.

I loved being in that atmosphere especially and the main reason for me to jump into photography course was the photo festival itself. I recall the year it happened … how I loved how the art was displayed in an old electricity building, and the stories behind each artists collection …. I had to find out who was behind this festival, and I ended up learning photography and volunteering with the man responsible, Issa Touma, in Aleppo Photo Festival

But enough nostalgia of the old days and my old life … today is about Copenhagen Photo Festival. The festival is huge and I have time to explore the galleries, institution and museums in the catalogue that are involved in the festival, as well as all the outdoor photography exposed all around the city, during the rest of the year … So, I would like to focus my writing on PHOTO CITY, which I visited before attending the urban photo talk with Urban Explorer.

PHOTO CITY lay in the area around Østre Gasværk and was described in the catalogue as follows:

The exhibition program has been organized and curated on basis of a new profile emphasizing artistic quality, international engagement, variation and photographic hybrids, consisting of five defined elements

  • The Censored Exhibition – international contemporary photography
  • Photojournalism in Focus – visual storytelling 25th anniversary exhibition Life Exposed
  • 1-2 international names personally invited to take part in CPF
  • 1-4 projects based on an international open call
  • A hybrid exhibition reflecting the photographic medium and technological measures

The photographers in PHOTO CITY included 17 young talented photographers from 9 different countries: Kien Hoang Le (DE), Jana Romanova (RUS), Martin Errichiello and Filippo Menichetti (IT), Christian Vium (DK), Ida Arentoft & Simon McAuley (GB), Ingi Joensen (FO), Mario Wezel (DE), Sanne Vils Axelsen (DK) & Josee Schryer (CAN), Hannes Jung (DE) and 25th anniversary exhibition of the education of photo journalism: Mikael Hørlyck (DE), Heba Khamis (EG), Ulrik Hasemann (DK) & Mathias Swold Maagaard (DK), Ella Kiviniemi (FI), Evgeny Makarov (RUS)

Five of the exhibitions are selected from an open call – this year the number of applications was three times higher than last year. The location and the surroundings were meant to put the audience into a state of exploring “Mind Set”, which is kind of a habit every year for such an event. But what grabbed my attention this year was the location picked for each artist work …

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I felt that every single corner was designed for that artist and the infrastructure of the location embraced the work perfectly. Every single piece was exhibited in the right location in Østre Gasvaerk and the Censored Exhibition was particularly perfectly situated.

Using containers that travel like goods all over the world to reach their destination and let the world hear about them for the documented stories was just perfect, as far as I am concerned. The containers were dedicated to the jubilee of photojournalist school and entitled Life Exposed.

My personal point of view is that great work has been picked and honestly many of them made me stop up … but in a case like this, when you tour around and you take in so many frames while reading and listening so many stories, what sticks in your head is the project that your heart falls for … the composition of pictures is glued and etched out straight away in your brain … and this is the main purpose of such a festival.

I choose to write about two artists … I find their approach to photography and the power of the composition as well the strong background of the subject worth mentioning in my modest blog.

THE GODESS GUIDE

Jana Romanova’s The Goddess Guide is an attempt to understand what femininity is. It is a very personal project, yet the approach Jana Romanova took for the topic is stunning … she asks other women to pose and she tried to find her way to pose next to them in beautifully composed pictures, learning the body language from women who are self conscious about their femininity.

And what I liked is that the room dedicated for the circle of coaches in her life and the way she hanged them as a community that helped her find her way … maybe she did; maybe she didn’t. It is the project that stands out among all the other artists in the whole festival.

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LIFE EXPOSED

The second artist I would like to honor is the Egyptian photographer, Heba Khamis’ with his exhibition entitled, Banned Beauty. I actually  hesitated with my choice between two very strong students who graduated in Denmark (the other one Mikael Horlyck’s work, Neglected),  and their work was exhibited in the containers under Life Exposed.

Heba’s work documents mothers in Cameroon ironing their daughter breasts so that they will be less attractive and to protect them from rape and early marriage. The fact of finding such a strong topic to document and using the simplest tools with great compositions spoke to me deeply … she composed her pictures in a very simple way that I liked.

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LESSON LEARNED: do not wait to attend such an event until the last day … much of the work deserved more than a single day of reflection …

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