Although Format international photography festival 2015 is soon coming to an end, you still have time to get your photography fix before it closes. Under this year’s theme of Evidence the festival combines familiar faces such as Larry Sultan and Giacomo Brunelli with young, lesser-known and up and coming photographic artists such as Giorgio Di Noto. Format 15 also holds a vast photobook collection from photographers and publishers around the globe presented in a brilliantly lit church. The festival is rich in interactivity, the viewer is encouraged to get involved with the work through rearranging, re- photographing and constructing pieces physically, as well as interacting digitally through social media.
At the entrance to The Iceberg, an installation piece by Giorgio Di Noto, you are given a UV torch as you set out to unveil images hiding in a darkened room. Using photographs found online the images are either presented flat on the surfaces of the installation or hidden in ultraviolet ink only to be revealed when the viewer discovers and unmasks it with their UV torch.
The hidden images are ambiguous and disassociated from scale, resembling what could be the surfaces of distant planets or microscopic organisms, atomic structures or distant galactic formations. As you progress through the work seeking to reveal and make sense of it with your limited UV tube you feel unsure as to if you’re wondering the vast depths of the cosmos or intimate details of anatomic structure. You move along trying to find and reveal the next image and make sense of the work and your place within it, questioning and challenging your sense of your place within the world – unsure if you’re a lone atom or a floating rock lost in space. Although perhaps I am projecting onto the work my own experience of being a person in their early twenties struggling to find out what they are doing in life, as many of us are at this age. Either way, it’s a wonderfully interactive and innovative piece as you follow an advent calendar style trail to reveal abstract and ambiguous photographs.
Ed Watts with his piece Greenwood Mississippi 1973 has recreated William Eggleston’s famous image of the same title. The piece takes the original work through several processes of remediation as the image is restructured into a 3 dimensional sculpture and viewers are invited to take the same Eggleston classic on their digi-SLR’s and phone cameras.
The festival is rich in conceptually profound work, although sometimes the aesthetics of the photographs themselves let down the thought provoking ideas behind them. This being said there are many works combining outstanding images backed with innovative ideas, as well as projects of just simply beautiful photographs.
If you’re a bit of a photo geek it’s worth getting a hostel and spending a few days there, if you just like looking at interesting and engaging images you can probably get your photography fill in a day visit. Either way, there is still time to pop to Derby and indulge in this international photography festival. The prints of Lydia Goldblatt’s series Still Here are definitely worth seeing in the flesh, if you’re not able to make it in time though you can still explore the festival online.