The first Photoworks Festival – Propositions for Alternative Narratives – challenges what a photography festival is and who it can be for and takes place from 24 September to 25 October 2020.

A rethink and a reshaping of one of the UK’s longest running photography festivals – Brighton Photo Biennial – the Photoworks Festival can be experienced three ways; via a printed ‘festival in a box’, online in a digital festival hub, and through a major presentation of outdoor exhibitions on billboards spanning Brighton & Hove.

The new format and dates have been revealed along with some of the participating artists, who include Farah Al Qasimi, Poulomi Basu, Roger Eberhard, Ivars Grāvlejs, Pixy Liao, Alberta Whittle, with more to be announced.

The artists, many of whom will show new work for the first time in the UK, intentionally set out to show a more nuanced perspective on a subject or topic, often using work which blurs the lines between mediums.

Photoworks Festival
24 September – 25 October, 2020

The Photoworks Festival forms part of Photoworks’ 25th anniversary year and is a major component of Alternative Narratives, the Photoworks programming theme for 2020. Led by Shoair Mavlian, Director of Photoworks, and grounded in ten years of thinking, Alternative Narratives attempts to rework traditional histories and challenge cultural hierarchies to support artists whose work has been lesser seen and under-acknowledged to date. The festival challenges the idea of a linear narrative of photography, instead suggesting a more complex and interconnected revisionist history which helps build a fuller and more complex story.

Photoworks Festival is for everyone. It can be experienced as an intimate viewing experience in a domestic setting or community space, outside in a busy public setting or online, via engaging interaction, conversation and exchange.

Photoworks Festival in a box
Inspired by Dayanita Singh’s innovative and seminal photobooks, Photoworks will curate a photography ‘festival in a box’ which will be released in September but available to pre-order by signing up as a Photoworks Friend now.  Designed as a deconstructed magazine, this will include new texts proposing alternative histories of photography alongside contemporary artists making work which present new perspectives, challenging the mainstream.  Photoworks will also distribute to community groups and universities, galleries, artist studios and more.

This limited edition box  includes texts by Julia Bunnemann, Simon Baker, Pamila Gupta, Shoair Mavlian, Thyago Nogueira, Lucy Souter, and others to be announced.

Outdoor Festival
An open air exhibition in Brighton & Hove which can be viewed across the city will appear this Autumn. It will be presented on poster sites and billboards across the city, from BN1 to the outer suburbs, bringing a global roster of artists to the streets for the first time.

Digital Festival hub
Photoworks’ digital platforms will be transformed into our festival hub, connecting the physical work and the digital audiences. Events, artist films, podcasts and special content connecting the ‘festival in a box’ and the outdoor festival with the virtual realm will be announced soon.  One project displayed here for the first time will be – Archiving your Life –  led by an LGBTQ+ youth group, Queer History Now, who are dedicated to preserving queer archives and enabling the queer community to take control over the stories and narratives that are told about their lives.

Photoworks x English Heritage
Another major project drawing on the Alternative Narratives theme will be a collaboration with English Heritage’s Shout Out Loud youth engagement programme. Within the online festival there will be a display of work from a collaboration that asks young photographers to create new digital photographic artworks exploring  their heritage – especially their untold  heritage.

Shoair Mavlian
Director of Photoworks, Shoair Mavlian, said “our inaugural Photoworks Festival rethinks both the form and content of traditional festivals and attempts to disrupt the well known histories of photography, breaking them apart to include new perspectives. Our festival acknowledges that the idea of a distinct history of photography is problematic and aims to highlight propositions for alternative histories alongside contemporary work that sets out to show a new or alternative perspective on a subject or topic. We look forward to presenting the festival across these three formats, allowing a wide range of audiences to engage with what a photography festival is and could be and enabling a global audience to access a festival like ours for the first time.”

Photoworks Festival Propositions for Alternative Narratives is curated by Shoair Mavlian, Julia Bunnemann and Raquel Villar-Pérez. Details of works by participating artists and events URL and IRL will be released next month.