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Photography as a universal language: the debate is on at Cortona On The Move


You can enjoy the magic of the landscapes of Tuscany, but an attractive destination for those who are keen on photography is located right in the heart of the region. Indeed, the 12th edition of the international photography festival Cortona On The Move, focusing on Me, Myself and Eye: The Intimate Relationship Between Photography, Society and Identity is on until October 2, with dozens of exhibitions, talks, portfolio reviews, conferences and workshops.

Painted or engraved, images have always played an important role in society, even in very ancient cultures such as the Etruscan one (and Cortona in the 4th-5th century B.C. was one of the most prosperous Etruscan cities). So it can be the ideal place for debating on photography as a full-featured language.

The pervasiveness of photography in our contemporary world is a matter of fact. According to the artistic director Paolo Woods, “at this crucial moment, when photography is more relevant than ever and has become a universal language –produced, shared and consumed in a ravenous manner– Cortona On The Move comes to reflect on authorship, point of view and legitimacy, on how subject and object intersect, collide and finally coexist”.

The festival’s 12th edition is reflecting on photography as a full-fledged language, as already foretold since the very beginning of this media. As this year’s theme is inspired by the title of one of Billie Holiday’s ballads, ‘Me, Myself and I’, Paolo Woods hopes that ”viewers can question how photography is never absolute, but rather acquires different meanings depending on who produces and who consumes it”

In 2022, Cortona On The Move goes on with its research into the contemporary documentary narration and the evolution of the photographic medium in order to let it accessible to the general public, thus making it a catalyst for exchange and cultural growthVeronica Nicolardi, director of the festival, adds.

The debate is on the grammar of this very language as well as on its rules, starting from the following: Who has the right to photograph what? Maybe you cannot find a definitive answer but observing the works by internationally known photographers can offer interesting ideas.

Martin Parr & The Anonymous Project (Déjà View. A Conversation in Colour), Jacob Holdt (American Pictures – I Just Do Things), Stacy Kranitz (As it was Give(n) to Me), Alessandro Cinque (Ser y aparecer),

Walter Niedermayr (Transformations / Dialogue between self and space), Jan Banning (The Sweating Subject), Lucas Foglia (Constant Bloom) are among the authors displaying their works.

Other exhibitions are connected with the AlUla Arts Festival, like Fast–Paced by Hayat Osamah or Wrinkles by Hussain Alsumayen. There is also a section on Stories of Humanity. Photographers for Doctors Without Borders (MSF), with works such as There are crocodiles in the sea by Filippo Taddei or RIP: Rest In Pieces by Giuliano Lo Re.

Without forgetting the prizes awarded during the festival, like the Cortona On The Move Award, the first edition of the festival’s open call, that is part of the constant search for original and innovative narratives that have always characterized the event. Zed Nelson, Rima Maroun e Gleeson Paulino are the winners of the COTM Award. Nicolò Filippo Rosso with Exodus, instead, is the winner of the Premio Ponchielli 2022, in collaboration with GRIN (Gruppo Redattori Iconografici Nazionale)

The exhibitions and the events are on display in the town’s historic centre, the Medici Fortress of Girifalco, and the new ‘Station C’ location near the Camucia-Cortona Station. The Cortona On The Move festival, organised by ONTHEMOVE cultural association, is under the patronage of the Region of Tuscany and the Municipality of Cortona.

Paola Sammartano

Paola Sammartano is a journalist, specialized in arts and photography, based in Milan.


Cortona On The Move – COTM
July 14 – October 2, 2022
Cortona (AR)

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