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Play, humor and fantasy for the twenty years of PhotoESPAÑA


The Spanish International Photography Festival celebrates its twenty years of existence. A variety of exhibitions to see everywhere in Madrid where floats a spirit of lightness with a selection of quality.

The photographer Cristina de Middel was asked to be the thinking head  of five exhibitions, she had carte blanche for the shows. The Spanish artist has a broad smile,and malicious thoughts. To  give her the curating of several exhibitions give the festival spirit, she had the freedom to invent a proposition far from ordinary.


Presented at the fondacion Telefonica, Cristina de Middel along with Martin Parr tried a new angle to present the work of their Magnum buddies. She picked a title “players” and it is extraordinary to see haw much can be done. The exhibition gives the oportunity to rediscover the Magnum photographers .

“The greatest show on earth”

The players is also the the theme of the other exhibition Cristina de Middel invites us to see at the Centro Cultural of the Villa Fernán Gómez. Young photographers exhibit works with always a bit of humor and fantasy. Among them the duo Prue Stent and Honey Long  who realise strange compositions questioning feminity, or the pictures of plant and animals of Robert Zhao who like a surgeon uses a sharp eye on what he chooses to immortalize , a little further Samuel Fosso invents a black pope. and then we are transported to the last part of the exhibition with this brilliant display “The greatest show on earth” Katev Erickson and his team have collected thousand of archives on the Circus and what come close to it. To he old pictures of parading animals and acrobats playing with hoops,they have associated pictures of space explorations  and car accidents. The idea was to offer a panorama of what “show” means.

Four leaf clover

If there are players there must be a match,  Cristina de Middel maliciously created within the Centro de Cibeles an exhibition that confront Swiss and Dutch photographers, at the end the viewver is invited to vote for his or her favorite team. For us it was a draw.


Patience and obstination characterize the work of Carlos Cánovas in the  Museo Ico. The Spanish photographer works on deserted landscapes mostly in black and white in the four corners of his country. An elegant atmosphere transport the visitor in an imaginary country. Other horizons at the  Real Jardin Botánico that offer an exhibition called “S.M.A.R.T ” that give a large place to landscape photography . Part of this, the series”Playground ” of James Mollison. The photographer capted school children in play grounds around the world making their portraits while playing or resting.

Moroccan scene

Children playing, is part of the work of Yoriyas Yassine Alaoui who comes from Casablanca in Morocco the artist a former break dancer who had a leg injury found in the art of photography a new mean of  expression.He realises striking portraits of the Moroccan society as does M’hammed Kilito.The two photographers are exhibited at the Casa Arabe with other artists from their country.

Of Bones and shadows

Other countries are invited at the Casa America.Urugayan photographers are invited among them Irina Raffo who has produced an intereting story on indoor landscape of houses and buildings of her country where  the walls are covered with trompe l’oeil. Up stairs is exhibited the impressive journey to Cuba of the Peruvian Musuk Nolte a wandering made of bones and shadows .

Soviet Union

At the Circulo de Bellas Artes two major exhibitions.”The elegant Senegal from the first half of the XXth century curated by three friends from la Revue noire-Jean Loup Pivin, Frédérique Chapuis et Pascal Martin Saint Léon –the exhibition present the work of an unknown Senegalese photographer who photographed his friends and family in the 1920’s.” What is interesting is that they are not studio photographs but pictures taken outside, in the street or in the home of the people he photographed which is rare for African photographers at that time”. 

On the first floor of the building is an installation that offers a dive into the archives of the Soviet Union from 1917 to 1972.Between eastern expansion, the making of the new homo sovieticus or the collective dream of an USSR with military and sport parades the viewer is taken from theme to theme in a pefectly thought out scenography.

Christian Dior

A dive into the past with the portraits of Cecil Beaton exhibited at the Fondación Canal; They are the result of the incedible meetings the photographer had during his life time.There are the stars of Hollywood, Audrey Hepburn, Marlene Dietrich or Garry Cooper. or the artists : Alberto Giacometti, Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso. there are the couturiers : Christian Dior or Coco Chanel. there is even a portrait of Winston Churchill sitting at his large desk. May be Cecil Beaton knew how to make portraits as no one else, in any case he took care to be really close to these personalities of the XXth  century. Which rings as a beautiful  tribute to a festival blowing its twentieth candle .



Jean-Baptiste Gauvin



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