FotoFocus Announces 2016 Exhibitions and Programming

Zanele Muholi, "Somnyama Ngonyama II," 2015. Gelatin silver print. © Zanele Muholi, Courtesy of the Artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery.

Zanele Muholi, “Somnyama Ngonyama II,” 2015. Gelatin silver print. © Zanele Muholi, Courtesy of the Artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery.

The FotoFocus Biennial, first launched in 2012, is a month-long photography festival set across the greater Cincinnati area in museums, galleries, universities, and community organizations. This year’s edition will take place October 1 through 31, exploring the theme “Photography, the Undocument.”

The event kicks off with a weekend of dedicated programming featuring a series of lectures, performances, and screenings, running October 6 through 9.

Under the guidance of curator Kevin Moore, the biennial will explore the medium’s relationship to verisimilitude through multiple shows and events, investigating the pervasive notion that photography is merely a tool of indexical documentation.

“It’s about trying to see how photography filters reality, and to think about how we construct reality and change it,” Moore told ARTINFO.

A New York-based independent curator, Moore headed the 2014 iteration of FotoFocus — the theme that year was “Photography in Dialogue.” “That was about photography as an expanded medium,” Moore said, when asked about how this year’s theme relates to the 2014 event. “This time it’s about getting into more of a philosophical issue about realism and reality.”

Jackie Nickerson, "Ruth," 2012. Digital c-print, dimensions variable. © Jackie Nickerson. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

Jackie Nickerson, “Ruth,” 2012. Digital c-print, dimensions variable.
© Jackie Nickerson. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

Earlier this year FotoFocus announced its headlining show, “Roe Ethridge: Nearest Neighbor,” which will open October 7 at the Contemporary Arts Center in downtown Cincinnati. A mid-career survey, the exhibition will occupy two floors and feature 80 works from more than 15 years worth of photographs drawn from the artist’s extensive body of work. “Nearest Neighbor” is Ethridge’s first solo museum exhibition in the United States. “It’s the anchor show,” Moore said. “It helped set the theme of the ‘Undocument.’”

Among the seven shows Moore will be curating during the biennial are two exhibitions at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. The first is dedicated to Zanele Muholi and will include her “Faces and Phases” photographs, a series of black-and-white portraits of lesbians in South Africa, as well as a selection of the artist’s haunting self-portraits. The second exhibition will focus on the work Jackie Nickerson, a British photographer who, like Muholi, shoots in Africa. Both exhibitions will include rarely shown video work by the artists.

“‘The Undocument,’ for me, is a very important issue to raise. Every photo can be looked at this way,” Moore said. “We live much of the time in our own fantasies, and photography must comply with that or it will go against it in some way. It plays a very active role in our minds.”

—Taylor Dafoe (@tdafoe)