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Europe Matters : Visions of a Restless Identity. FOTOGRAFIA EUROPEA 2023 opens in Reggio Emilia


Fotografia Europea 2023, the international festival whose focal centre is Reggio Emilia, is in its 18th edition and spreads images throughout the city, as tradition. There are more than twenty exhibitions on the official circuit, to which the Partner’s exhibitions and the ones of the Circuito Off must be added. The opening is on April 28 (though inaugural days go on until May 1st). The projects, selected by the festival’s artistic directors, Tim Clark, Walter Guadagnini and Luce Lebart, refer to a theme summarized in its title, Europe matters: Visions of a Restless Identity and connected to the notion of Europe, the complexity of current events and of our individual and social identity, which are constantly being questioned. So, the festival offers an interesting chance to observe our world in such a rapid change and to help us understand its dynamics through photography. The festival, which has been awarded The Lucie Awards as the best Photo Festival of the Year 2022, is enhanced by a series of events, conferences, meetings with artists, portfolio readings and book signings, which animate it until June 11.

There’s time to plan a full immersion in photography in Reggio Emilia, as Fotografia Europea 2023 lasts more than one month. Let’s start from the hub of the festival, the monumental Chiostri di San Pietro, where ten exhibitions are on display exploring many crucial issues (cultural hybridity, borders and landscape, changes in society and cultural identity …). Sabine Weiss, Una vita da fotografa, curated by Virginie Chardin, is this year’s historical exhibition. Weiss immortalized her subjects’ emotions and feelings, in line with French humanist photography, of which she was one of the most important voices. Same location for Mónica De Miranda, who questions notions of identity based on the categories of race and gender in her The Island, Jean-Marc Caimi & Valentina Piccinni, who document marginalized communities and the changes affecting Turkish society in Güle Güle (‘goodbye’ in Turkish) while Simon Roberts presents Merrie Albion and Alessia Rollo relays a journey of discovery of the ancient rites of the Italian South in Parallel Eyes. Bilateral by Samuel Gratacap focuses on the landscape, viewed from the French-Italian border and through the voices of people trying to cross it; Yelena Yemchuk presents Odesa and Cédrine Scheidig her project De la mer à la terre, Geoffroy Mathieu in L’Or des ruines explores a possible economy built on sharing the earth’s resources, while The Archive of Public Protests brings together the visual traces of social activism.

At the Chiostri di San Domenico another venue to discover – the specially commissioned exhibition the festival entrusts to a different artist every year and the winning projects of the OPEN CALL are on stage

(Myriam Meloni with Nelle giornate chiare si vede Europa; Mattia Balsamini with Protege Noctem – If Darkness Disappeared; Camilla de Maffei with Grande Padre). Works from the Ars Aevi collection celebrating Bosnia Herzegovina as the Guest Country of this edition of the festival are featured at Palazzo da Mosto. A partial anagram of ‘Sarajevo’ (and ‘art of the time’ in Latin), Ars Aevi is a unique contemporary art museum project, created by the collective will and ethical cooperation of international artists, curators and contemporary art museums who donated works to Sarajevo during the war, to support the city and accompany its civil and cultural rebirth. The exhibitions Utopia and Studies and Definitions by Ariane Lose are also on at this venue.

Organised by the city’s leading cultural institutions, some partner’s exhibitions orbit around the festival.

The photography section of the Palazzo dei Musei, proposes Un piede nell’Eden. Luigi Ghirri and others’ gaze. Giardini in Europa and L’Architettura degli Alberi, as an articulated itinerary dedicated to the natural element, and the project Giovane Fotografia Italiana #10 | Premio Luigi Ghirri 2023, curated by Ilaria Campioli and Daniele De Luigi. The Panizzi Photo Library presents various shows, including Flashback with works from those exhibited during Fotografia Europea 2007, which also focused on the theme of Europe, and Alberto Franchetti (1860 – 1942) e la fotografia. The Spazio Gerra features You Tourned the Tables On Me, presenting 115 portraits of the most famous contemporary musicians by Roberto Masotti. The CSAC – Communication Studies and Archive Centre of the University of Parma proposes Antonio Sansone: Rituali d’Europa, with images that are an interesting example of civil commitment photojournalism in the aftermath of the Second World War, while No Home from War: Tales of Survival and Loss, the first exhibition in Italy by the Irish photojournalist Ivor Prickett, is on at Collezione Maramotti in Reggio Emilia.

The complete programme is on the festival’s website, with info on events like the training project Speciale Diciottoventicinque, conferences, book presentations and [PARENTESI] BOOKFAIR, the space dedicated to independent publishers. Details are given also on FOTOFONIA, the musical declination of Fotografia Europea, curated by Max Casacci, founder of Subsonica.

The CIRCUITO OFF, the independent event that enriches the festival with a large series of exhibitions, presents projects by professionals alongside young photographers, enthusiasts and associations. On May 6, the evening devoted to the Circuito Off, the winner of the Max Spreafico Prize will be announced, too.

Paola Sammartano


FOTOGRAFIA EUROPEA 2023. Europe Matters: Visions of a Restless Identity
April 28 – June 11, 2023
42100 Reggio Emilia

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