Thousands of photographers and photo enthusiasts have gathered every September in downtown Brooklyn since 2012 for the annual Photoville Festival. Last year’s event was the largest to date with more than 100,000 visitors to Brooklyn Bridge Park. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year the showcase has shifted to an extensive lineup of free virtual programming, and has expanded physical installation locations to all five of New York City’s boroughs.
Photoville 2020 is slated to have a total 26 outdoor locations at 16 sites -- three in Brooklyn, eight in Manhattan, two in the Bronx, two in Queens and one in Staten Island -- with the Brooklyn Bridge Park site hosting more than 40 exhibitions. The show will kick off September 17 with the opening of outdoor exhibitions as well as an Opening Night online event, and run through November 29, allowing visitors additional time to view the work beyond the usual two- week run time.
“We are not going to have any in person events, but we can still put the work out there,” said Laura Roumanos, who co-founded the New York-based non-profit along with Dave Shelley and Sam Barzilay. “We are really trying to make this as accessible as possible for everyone, and it's all free.”
On September 19, Roumanos will be hosting “Diversity in Visual Storytelling,” a discussion with Leica Women Foto Project 2019 awardees, Debi Cornwall, Yana Paskova, and Eva Woolridge, whose work will be shown at an exhibition at the Brooklyn Bridge Park New Dock Street site. This online talk is one of the more than 30 scheduled events, which also include professional development workshops addressing workflow, pricing and negotiations, and pitching and marketing. The three-part series is being presented by Diversify Photo and Photoville on consecutive Fridays.
Photoville installations will showcase the work of many female photographers. A preview of a traveling nationwide exhibit planned for 2021, We, Women includes the first cohort of women and non-binary artists and examines critical issues across the United States through photo- based, community engagement projects. In addition, A Mother’s Eye, a collection of images of children made by their mothers, and Jackie Molloy’s Single Moms by Choice, which documents four women’s journeys into motherhood, will both be shown at Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Several of the exhibitions explore the COVID-19 pandemic. The Journal: Women Photographers Respond to COVID-19 includes work from the Women Photograph community, a plurality of femme voices including trans, queer, and non-binary people. Participants turned their cameras inward to document themselves, their families, intimate moments, and private spaces. And Rosem Morton, a Filipina visual artist, nurse, and educator based in Baltimore, Maryland, chronicled her experience as a nurse during the pandemic through her project, Donning and Doffing.
Other exhibitions examine the intersection of COVID-19 with protests for racial and social justice. Laylah Amatullah Barrayn’s We Are Present showcases a selection of her portraits documenting the lived experiences of Black Americans in New York and Minneapolis during the pandemic and the uprisings against injustice. Haruka Sakaguchi, a Japanese documentary photographer based in Brooklyn, tells the stories of ten New York-based Asian Americans, who shared their experiences of racism during the pandemic, and how their perspectives have been shaped by recent Black Lives Matter protests.
This year’s festival will also include Farren van Wyk’s work, Die lewe is nie reg vir my nie (This life is not right for me), and Flex, Kennedi Carter’s portraits exploring ideas of Blackness related to wealth, power, respect and belonging.
Some of the installations focus on women’s experiences. Constructing Equality, an exhibition of Roshni Khatri’s photographs, documents women working in the male-dominated construction industry. Ana Maria Arevalo Gosen’s Días Eternos depicts the lives of female prisoners in Venezuela, and Redefining Beauty, a project by Manila-based photographer Hannah Reyes Morales, explores beauty standards, which are “at once a celebration of femininity, and an agent of conformity.”
Meanwhile, other installations are linked to specific places in New York City. Sofie Vasquez’s Bronx Wrestling, which will be exhibited in the Soundview section of the Bronx, is a black and white documentary series about the independent wrestling scene and culture in the South Bronx. Olga Ginzburg’s street photography focuses on a love of a place -- Staten Island. “Many of the people I meet have a sense of pride about this place; that connection with their surroundings is something I want to explore. Like clues or hints, I find myself looking for the subtle ways my subjects reveal themselves,” Ginzburg says on the Photoville page for Encounters, which will be shown at the South Beach Promenade.
Photoville will also showcase work of Sara Naomi Lewkowicz, Suzette Bousema, Wendy Red Star, Kiana Hayeri, Francesca Magnani, Erin Lefevre, Destiny Mata, Ilvy Njiokiktjien, Nina Robinson, and Mz. Icar featuring Erin Patrice O'Brien -- as well as many others. A full list of the exhibitions is available here, and a lineup of online sessions can be viewed here.