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Festival of Light brings unrealities to the fore

Australian artist Gerald O’Connor recreates Victorian scenes to criticize contemporary society.
Australian artist Gerald O’Connor recreates Victorian scenes to criticize contemporary society.
Australian artist Gerald O’Connor recreates Victorian scenes to criticize contemporary society.
By Veronica Stewart
For the Herald
Hosted every two years, the Festival de la Luz (Festival of Light) has managed to grow to a quite extraordinary magnitude. Spanning over two months, it has more than 111 exhibits to offer, showcased in 62 cultural venues spread throughout 25 cities, as well as other photography-related activities. The works by more than 300 authors coming from 26 countries were selected through an online open-call which allowed any artist to have a chance of participating in the festival. Herein lies its main goal: to become a platform for lesser known artists to broadcast their work.

This cultural exchange is possible thanks to the Festival de la Luz being affiliated to the international collective Festival of Light since 2000, which has enabled it to form stronger bonds between artists of territories such as the United States, Canada, Mexico, Denmark, Australia and Korea, among others.

For the first time in 25 years, the exhibited images will not only be showcased in printed format, but also in a reel of projections. “We have 25 international artists in one projection, 12 Koreans in another and a number of different videos which will be playing at the San Martín Cultural Centre, the Heraldo Conti Cultural Centre and in 14 provinces across the country,” Elda Harrington, the director of the festival, told the Herald. “Photographic work can travel more easily nowadays, and it allows us all to enjoy it at the same time.”

Another difference with previous editions is the replacement of talks of photography traditionally hosted by the Alliance Française with a series of films about photographers that will screen at the same venue, as well as a series of German films, including cinematographic work by Grete Stern, which will screen at the Conti.

“We felt that, after so long, we didn’t need to offer talks,” Harrington said. “When we started hosting the festival, it was a need, but not anymore. We thought this would be a more interesting addition.” However, the usual workshops and conferences that the festival always offers are still included this year.

This edition is focusing on traces of unrealities. Directors Harrington and Silvia Mangialardi wanted to do something different from what they had been doing in previous editions, where the themes revolved around the idea of passions, the past and the future. “We realized that unrealities are around us in our daily lives,” said Harrington. “The great variety of perspectives on this matter allows us to tackle a subject as broad and complex as that of unrealities, without limiting it to any particular genre, aesthetic or technical specialty,” Mangialardi told the Herald.

This theme could also be applied to a closer look at cultures which differ vastly from our own, which is why South Korea being a guest country fits perfectly into this year’s edition. Meant to pay homage to the 50th anniversary of the first Korean immigration, the festival will feature a number of exhibits, and will welcome a curator and two artists. One of them is Goseong Choi, who told the Herald that he was very excited to see his country participate in the festival.

“There are so many artists quietly creating honest art work, but it is not easy to bring a wide audience to them unless they are very catchy and loud. I believe these sorts of festivals can put them and their work at the centre of attention and appreciation,” he said.

Other artist and exhibitions to look out for are Desaparecidos, the work of Mexican Pablo Ortiz Monasterio on the 43 missing students from Ayotzinapa, the exhibit of Tomás Munita on daily life in war-ridden Afghanistan and Colombia, tierra de luz by Santiago Escobar Jaramillo, which deals with the healing process of a population that has been forced to move because of guerrillas and drug trafficking. The work of Australian Gerald O’Connor, who recreates Victorian scenes to criticize contemporary society, is also not to be missed.

There will also be a number of Argentine artists from different provinces. Esteban Pastorino, one of said photographers, told the Herald that “the current scene of Argentine photography has become a lot bigger and its diversity is very rich. It is undoubtedly a part of the international photography scene.”

When and where

Until September 30 at several cultural venues. For more information, visit www.encuentrosabiertos.com.ar.

@verostewart

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