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December 20, 2014
Monday, August 4, 2014

Festival de la Luz: sights set on new horizons

Vessel, by Jan Smith, will be on display in Buenos Aires at the Centro Cultural de la Cooperación.
By Veronica Stewart
For the Herald

Two months of events focused on photography, with 178 exhibits from 500 artists

The definition of “photography” is quite simple and to the point. If you look up its etymology, you’ll discover that “photography” is nothing more than “drawing with light.” But what is so interesting about the art of photography is that, while the science and technical aspects of it are the same for every artist around the world, the results they get are extremely varied.

This means that if you get 10 people to look at a tree and photograph it, you will get what seems like 10 different trees.

If you take this to a bigger scale and ask photographers from all over the world to reflect upon a concept as wide and abstract as “horizons,” you can get as many as 178 exhibits from more than 500 artists from 45 cities in 31 countries. In other words, you get the 25th Festival de las Luces, held this year since August 1 until September 30.

The Festival de las Luces, which is held once every two years, is made up of various activities that go from lectures and book signings to more participative events like workshops, urban interventions and contests.

Since its first edition, held in Buenos Aires in 1989, it has been an opportunity for photographers and curators to meet, as well as a place for specialized critics, collectors and editors to become acquainted with the works of both famous and new artists.

However, the festival does not only aim to attract those already interested in photography, but to make the artistic, cultural and social relevance of it evident for the general public. All the exhibitions and conferences held in the context of the festival are, therefore, free of charge.

Since 2000, it has been affiliated with the international Festival of Lights; Buenos Aires is now one of the 23 cities in five continents that hold these events, and the biggest in Latin America. The idea is to work collaboratively with artists from countries such as Canada, Mexico, Australia, the United States, Lithuania and Russia. For the first time in the history of the festival, short videos of foreign festivals will be shown.

These videos are not the only novelties this year’s festival has to offer. The videos are actually just one of the three elements that make up the photographic Soireés, which are meant as a space for interaction between the audience and the works of the artists.

Another element revolves around the concept of international perspectives, and aims to present works about global issues by 25 well-known artists.

These issues are as varied as the authors’ take on them, and include the pressures women have to contend with in today’s society, the influence of urban tribes in the quest of one’s own identity, the anonymity arising from globalization and the portrayal of the many generations of a family who has lived in tsarist, communist and nowadays Russia.

The final element of the Soireés is a call for young photographers: as a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the festival, artists younger than 25-years-old will have a chance to make their work known.

Other novelties include an exhibit of Argentine and Spanish artists in Salamanca, Spain, and exhibits by Chilean artists here in Buenos Aires, since the neighbouring country is the guest of this edition. Finally, provinces from all over the country have called on local photographers to set up individual and collective exhibits to be shown in different parts of Argentina.

It is interesting to point out that this year’s theme, “Horizons,” can be thought of as serving a double purpose: on the one hand, it reminds artists where they come from, and the different horizons they look at everyday that differ greatly from those of foreign photographers.

However, it also celebrates the unity that these differences provide. It celebrates how art can define a culture while at the same time bringing it together with so many others, and how there’s no better way to understand and empathize with someone than by observing their take on the world.

@VeroStewart

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