Belfast Photo Festival Launches 10th Anniversary Programme

NI's leading visual arts festival, the Belfast Photo Festival, has unveiled the full programme for its landmark 10th anniversary edition from 6-30 June.

The 10th Belfast Photo Festival will animate public spaces and the city's built heritage with exhibitions from a host of international visual artists, including the island of Ireland premiere of Broken Spectre by Richard Mosse.

This year's festival, supported by Belfast City Council, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Arts & Business Northern Ireland and Alexander Boyd Displays, explores the theme of Divergence and aims to delve deep into how contemporary photographers are interpreting the climate emergency, rapid digitalisation and the ethical questions surrounding artificial intelligence.

Welcoming the new programme, Belfast Lord Mayor, Councillor Ryan Murphy said: "I'm so impressed by both the quality of this year's Belfast Photo Festival programme and the way in which it's encouraging people to consider current societal concerns.

"During Belfast 2024, our biggest ever citywide creative celebration, it's particularly encouraging to see exhibitions hosted in places like City Hall grounds, Carlisle Memorial Church and Riddel's Warehouse. Art holds incredible power to communicate, to connect people, and to shine a light on what should be valued in our society, and I look forward to seeing people taking a little time out of their day to visit and enjoy these exhibitions.

"Belfast City Council is proud to support the Belfast Photo Festival – and we send the team congratulations on what looks set to be a highly successful 10th anniversary programme."

Among this year's highlights, Our Streets are Full of White Bears by Barbara Caillot and Aleksandra Karkowska will be exhibited on the lawn at Belfast City Hall from 10 – 30 June, with the support of the Polish Cultural Institute. These photos showcase the artists' fascinating project of the legendary White Bear of Zakopane, exploring how thousands of pictures of people with white bears have become a symbol of Polish popular culture, and both an antidote and provocation during uncertain times over the past 100 years.
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Presented in the deconsecrated Carlisle Memorial Church with the support of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Belfast Buildings Trust will be the debut of Broken Spectre by award-winning Irish artist Richard Mosse. Seeking to overcome the challenge of representing climate change, Broken Spectre is Mosse's most ambitious project to date. Taking the audience deep into the Brazilian Amazon, this immersive 74-minute audio-visual installation, set within one of Belfast's most striking buildings, is the result of three years of filming in the world's largest rainforest. Admission is free of charge and accessible 11:00 – 19:00, Tuesday to Sunday.

Riddel's Warehouse, one of the most remarkable examples of 19th century industrial Belfast, will host SMILE AI. by Dutch artist Matthias Oostrik. Presented at the festival with the support of the Creative Industries Fund NL, Kingdom of the Netherlands and Hearth Historic Buildings Trust, this dystopian art installation actively immerses the audience in a future where reality is refracted through the lens of AI's statistical interpretations.A

Alongside the reveal of the 2024 programme, the festival has also announced artist Adam Rouhana as the recipient of its annual Spotlight Award for his project Before Freedom (2022-On-going). Adam is a Palestinian-American photographer who aims to reappropriate representations of Palestine from a Western description by presenting a contemporary view of Palestinian life.

Belfast Photo Festival Director Michael Weir commented: "We are delighted to celebrate the 10th edition of Belfast Photo Festival by animating our city's public spaces and its remarkable built heritage with world-class visual art. Over the last decade, the festival has really pushed the boundaries and innovated new ways for the people of this city and beyond to engage with photography. We may be the Belfast Photo Festival, but our reach, and the appeal of this place as a cultural capital, is truly global. International artists are keen to present their work on these shores and that is reflected by the huge response to our Open Submission competition, which attracted entries from photographers around the world. A massive congratulations to this year's award recipient, Adam Rouhana, whose work is among 10 diverse and gender-balanced projects selected by an expert panel of independent judges to be presented at this year's festival."

This year's judging panel included representatives from an array of internationally renowned museums, festivals and publications, such as TATE Modern in London, Centre Pompidou in Paris, The New York Times, Foam Photography Museum in Amsterdam, Magnum Photos in Paris, PHOTO 2024 International Festival of Photography in Australia and Aperture Magazine in New York.

The festival will also highlight over 30 partner exhibitions, talks, workshops and screenings of artists who are incorporating new mediums and technology into their work with further influences from contemporary, historical, documentary, archival, reportage and conceptual photography.

For more information, visit belfastphotofestival.com.

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