FotoFocus announces 2024 Biennial theme: aspects of stories existing outside the frame

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FotoFocus announces 2024 Biennial theme: aspects of stories existing outside the frame
Kevin Moore speaking at opening of On the Line/ Documents of Risk and Faith at Contemporary Arts Center at the 2022 FotoFocus Biennial.

CINCINNATI, OH.- FotoFocus, the nonprofit arts organization championing photography and lens-based art, is pleased to announce the theme of the seventh edition of its FotoFocus Biennial is backstories. Held in October 2024, this edition will strive to uncover stories told through photography that may not be evident upon first glance.

FotoFocus will welcome global artists, curators, critics, educators, and regional visitors to experience and participate in exhibitions, talks, performances, screenings, and panel discussions. These various events will take place across museums, galleries, universities, and public spaces throughout the Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky, Dayton and Columbus, Ohio regions.

“Following a fantastic Biennial in 2022, attracting over 180,000 visitors thanks to the partners who created exceptional projects, we are thrilled to invite back our community to participate in the upcoming 2024 FotoFocus Biennial,” says Katherine Ryckman Siegwarth, FotoFocus Executive Director. “The new theme, backstories, will give this edition's partners the chance to engage in new and nuanced ways with the medium of photography.”

Backstories are histories of what has happened previously, or out of view—stories that have not yet been told, or told differently by people whose voices have not been heard. Once told, they shed new light on circumstances and events. Backstories fill in where existing evidence ends, solving mysteries, or simply adding nuance to tell us things we need to know. Histories emanating from archives, discovered through reporting, or revealed through rumor provide essential contexts for understanding a given photograph. This year’s theme, backstories,considers the full context of a photograph, exploring broader histories, and acknowledging that vital information which often does not make it into the frame.

“I like to think we’ve all become more savvy about disinformation these past few years,” says FotoFocus Artistic Director and Curator, Kevin Moore. “We no longer take information at face value—spoken, written, or visual. It is important to know the backstories.”

FotoFocus invites venues in the Greater Cincinnati region to apply to the 2024 Biennial, and welcomes proposals addressing the theme through the exploration of a range of topics, including but not limited to:

● Photographic series that offer an enlarged understanding of subject matter through narrative and story-telling
● Works by previously unknown artists; surprising bodies of work by established and well-known artists
● Bodies of work that offer a different perspective on received social or political truths
● Film and photography that challenge our common understanding of contemporary life
● Forgotten histories that help to explain social and economic conditions today

VENUES CAN APPLY HERE: Deadline: September 15, 2023

The 2022 FotoFocus Biennial broke the nonprofit’s record for highest number of biennial projects, featuring nearly 800 artists, curators and participants, and welcoming over 180,000 visitors.

The 2024 Biennial will feature new commissions by artists working internationally and in the Greater Cincinnati region, in addition to new exhibitions and film programming curated by the FotoFocus team and FotoFocus guest curators. Additional information and programming will be released throughout the coming year.

FotoFocus is a Cincinnati-based nonprofit arts organization that champions photography and lens-based art through exhibitions and public programming. Since 2010, the organization has engaged art and educational institutions throughout the region to support and expand the cultural dialogue around the medium that has come to define our time. With an emphasis on intellectually and academically rigorous programs, the organization provides uniquely enriching access to lens-based art, film, and practices inspired by photography. FotoFocus has collaborated with organizations, curators, academics, and more than 2600 artists and participants, to present over 750 exhibitions and programs.

FotoFocus has awarded close to 700 grants to support partners presenting projects and educational programs that are accessible and engaging to the public. In April 2020, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, FotoFocus pledged part of its 2020 Biennial budget to financially support more than 100 Participating Venues and Partners in the region’s art community through FotoFocus Emergency Art Grants.

Signature FotoFocus programming includes the FotoFocus Biennial, which took place October 2022 with the theme, World Record. Past editions have presented work across the Cincinnati region by historic and contemporary artists, including Berenice Abbott, Eugène Atget, Roe Ethridge, Zanele Muholi, Karl Blossfeldt, Francis Bruguière, Thomas Ruff, and Akram Zaatari. Other landmark events include the FotoFocus Symposium, which has contributed significant dialogue and insight to culturally relevant topics including the controversial Mapplethorpe exhibition, and the FotoFocus Lecture and Visiting Artist Series, which has brought globally renowned artists such as Zoe Leonard and William Wegman to Cincinnati.

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