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Portraits and landscapes, glued to canvases attached to three-dimensional cubes, tell stories of injustice, freedom, triumph and sorrow, lined the East River promenade in Brooklyn Bridge Park in Brooklyn during the 10th Photoville festival on September 18.
The festival exhibits the work of photographers and makes visual stories accessible to everyone, said Laura Roumanos, executive director and co-founder of Photoville.
Over the next 10 weeks, free public art and programming will be available in all five boroughs with 75 exhibits located in 25 different locations across the city. The exhibitions present the work of photographers from around the world in the form of photo cubes and canvases.
“As soon as we walked into the park we saw these things pop up, which is really cool,” said Emma B., a New York student. “It brings this art out of the underground. It could be in a magazine, crammed into a shop, but it’s here in front of the skyline and it makes you think of it as part of the city.
As they walk along the water’s edge, they can experience what is happening in different parts of the city and the world through the art of photography.
Break down barriers to access
Angel Gonzalez, who stumbled across the exhibits on Saturday, said Photoville brings art to the people instead of bringing people to art.
Photoville avoids having to go to a museum or a gallery to discover art.
“People from all walks of life, including tourists and New Yorkers, can interact and see the work of different photographers,” said Walis Johnson, a New Yorker who walked through Brooklyn Bridge Park on Saturday.
Gonzalez said Photoville is a great way to explore art without worrying about money or time.
“It’s a factor limiting the number of museums someone can afford in a day and sometimes you don’t have time to go through an entire museum,” he said.
Photoville also makes sure that the location is not a barrier to the art experience, said Free Mondesire, a volunteer with Photoville from the Bronx.
“It is very important to have exhibitions in the five arrondissements, because not everyone can come to the same place always,” Mondesire said.
This year, Photoville has grown to work with more partners across the city.
“It’s really wonderful to be able to show such important work to more people,” said Roumanos.
Tell important stories
Each exhibition offers viewers an important lesson to learn.
“It takes you back to traditional photography, and the whole point of photography is to tell a story,” Emma said.
The photographers that Photoville includes in the festival’s work to tell stories relevant to what is happening in the world today.
“We see performative activism on social media, but people tend to scroll through it because of the information overflow,” said Aliya M, a student who saw the exhibits on Saturday. “It’s different when it’s in your space and it’s so personal. It’s in your face and it’s not something you can just scroll through.
Photo cubes combine art and politics by pairing photographs with text and quotes, and it’s truly stunning, Aliya said. And each of the cubes is so different, she said.
Aliya said the exhibits not only showcase what is happening in different parts of the city, but make people curious about the different communities pictured.
In Brooklyn Bridge Park, an exhibition by Kichwa photographer Eli Farinango titled “Runa Kawsay: The Roots That Sustain Us” explores nuances of Kichwa Indigenous identity from the personal experiences of the Kichwa community living on Turtle Island (North America) .
Roumanos hopes that festival-goers will gain a better understanding of the world and be able to empathize with the experiences of others through photography.
“We think public art is a great way for people to understand the world better. And what better way to understand the world than with photos?
Appreciate the photographers
Roumanos hopes the festival will raise awareness of the value of the photography industry and help showcase the work of photographers, she said.
“I wouldn’t know anything about these photographers without it,” Aliya said.
Justyn Hochheiser, a New Yorker who has taken up photography as a hobby, said the festival was great for the photography community.
“It means something to have your photo for everyone to see,” Hochheiser said.
The exhibits also give younger generations the opportunity to appreciate printed photos while providing the older generation with a sense of nostalgia for the way photography was before smartphones.
“When you see it (the photo) big and zoomed in, you’re like, ‘Oh, I’ve never seen it that way,’” Mondesire said.
So and now
The Photoville team works year round to plan the festival that brings together photographers and the New York community.
This year is the second time that Photoville has spread across the city.
For the first eight years, the Photoville festival was always held in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Photoville would create its “photo village” inside four shipping containers. But the pandemic has changed that.
Photoville had to think outside the box – literally.
“When the pandemic hit in 2020, we realized that we could no longer present these exhibits in sea containers, but we didn’t want to have no photoville,” Roumanos said. “We wanted to continue. “
Photoville worked with Brooklyn Bridge Park to display the exhibits throughout the park – on piers and various lawns – photographs engulfed the area. The association has also partnered with the NYC Parks Department, Times Square, the Abrons Art Center and other spaces to grow across the city.
“It’s a lot of work and it takes a long time,” Roumanos said. “But it’s totally worth it.”
People are excited when they see Photoville is back, especially when they recognize the photographer’s work that is displayed.
“It pays off when we see people totally embracing the photographers and the stories. It’s all worth it, ”Roumanos said. “When we see people reading the captions, looking at the work and starting to take pictures and you know they are writing messages, it means the world. “
Photoville was founded by a group of three people in Brooklyn who were committed to involving all people in the world of photography and wanted to make a difference in the lives of photographers. Photoville is working with other nonprofits, independent curators and photographers, the United Nations, the New York Times and National Geographic to make the festival happen.
Until the end of November, the festival will offer virtual online storytelling events, artist talks, workshops, demonstrations, educational programs, community programs and outdoor exhibitions in parks and public spaces. from New York.