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Madrid –PHotoEspaña 2011


PHotoEspaña 2011 will take place in Madrid until July 24. Lisbon, Cuenca, and Alcalá de Henares will also play host to the Festival. This fourteenth annual photography festival will offer a program of 70 expositions – 21 in the official Selection, 6 in openPHoto, 11 in other halls, and 32 as part of the off Festival (Festival off) – in 61 locations, among them museums, galleries, art centers, and exhibition spaces. 370 artists and creators, of 55 nationalities, will participate.

The official Selection of PHotoEspaña 2011 stems from a thematic selection and various special projects curated by Gerardo Mosquera, entitled Interfaces: Portraiture and Communication. Festival exhibitions feature three additional sections including other halls and myriad spaces that will come together as part of PHotoEspaña to promote photography: OpenPHoto Cuenca, which integrates the projects of embassies and foreign cultural institutions, and the Off Festival (Festival Off), which brings together the best works from the major art galleries of Madrid.

The thematic section of PH11 will focus on the portrait, whose fundamental element is the face, principal expression of an individual’s identity and the nexus of identification, character, and personality. The portrait combines these qualities and also includes the position of the portraitist modulating or transforming the face’s identity and message by dint of the meaning she hopes to convey, and the identity of the viewer, who then interprets that message in accordance with her own cultural expectations and conventions. Certainly the face is a mechanism of communication, and photography has captured this communication by freezing expressions and ordering them chronologically. This explains why there has been such a profusion of portraits in contemporary life; the face is a zone of contact and exchange. In this sense, the concept of interfaces is apropos, as it emerged at the end of the 19th century as a reference to a surface that established a common border among different bodies and regions. Connected in the 1960s to computer programming language, its etymology (inter + face) alludes precisely to the exchange among faces. In PHE11, the phrase is invoked to suggest the communicative powers of the face: faces as spaces that touch [and can be entered into] and as spaces where information can be shared or exchanged, facilitating an interaction between independent, and sometimes contrary, entities.

PHotoEspaña 2011 is centered on the portrait – one of the most vast and important genres of photography – through communication and interconnection. The Festival will explore the face as a zone of interaction, exploring the limits and friction arising from this communication. The curated selection will not be reduced to this medium alone, rather it will open onto other media and feature new trends that approach the exhibition as a more experimental space, open to events, processes, and experiences, including projects outside the exhibition halls that are interactive and which will reach the community directly and take place on the internet.

The Festival’s 67 exhibitions will include 370 artists and creators from 55 countries. Cindy Sherman, Thomas Ruff, Ron Galella, Alfredo Jaar, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Dayanita Singh, Kan Xuan, and Nancy Burson are among the participating artists.
PHE11 will organize over 60 activities: photography workshops, portfolio showings, debates, master classes, guided tours, educational programs, family workshops, various showings (projections) and other outdoor activities.
The Festival will foster public participation through activities held outside the exhibition spaces. The internet will play a vital role too, with various contests and exhibitions online.

Oliviero Toscani, Ouka Leele, Javier Vallhonrat, and Ernesto Bazán will be professors in the Campus PHE program. Estrella de Diego will direct the PHE Gatherings Program (Encuentros PHE), and among those participating in the festival’s debates and roundtables will be Soledad Puértolas, Cabello/Carceller, and Christine de Naeyer.
Young people and adults will participate together in intergenerational workshops. Children will be at the center of the Festival with workshops and activities designed specifically for them.

Carolina Martinez

Through July 24

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