This past weekend I attended Photoville, the photo festival held down at the Brooklyn Bridge Park. The exhibitions are held in over 30 shipping containers which might not strike you as an ideal setting but it does work to some degree (lot images found here). Thankfully both days that I attended the crowds weren’t too bad so I could easily check out the photography.

But the work is only part of the experience. On Saturday I attended two talks, fist Pete Brook led a panel with photographers Lori Waselchuk, Deborah Luster and Yana Payusova in which they discussed Cruel and Unusual, the exhibit focusing on incarceration curated by Pete and Hester Keijser. It was very illuminating and great to hear about the experience each photographer had working in the prisons.

In the second talk, Michael Shaw of BAGnews Notes discussed the way news images are consumed and interpreted in the digital age. It was a brilliant talk and made me think I should probably pay a bit more attention to the imagery that’s being published by news outlets. I was fortunate to have several conversations with Michael over the weekend and learned that this man is very passionate about not only the work he’s doing, but what’s happening with photography on the internet. It was a breath of fresh air.

And then there’s the social component. The setup was very conducive for bumping into friends and acquaintances, either while chilling in the beer garden, or roaming the grounds. They billed it as a photo village and I think they’ve succeeded in living up to it. The entire experience was well executed for the most part. I don’t want to get too much into comparing it to the New York Photo Festival but for anyone whose been to both, I think the consensus is that the Photoville experience was much more enjoyable and interesting. Sam Barzilay and his crew have created something very unique that I think it will only grow in popularity over the years.

Something I appreciate about their ambition is that they want to draw in people that might not otherwise be your typical photography enthusiasts. Brooklyn Bridge Park is a popular destination and by creating a free event, they’ve made it very accessible for people that might just stumble upon the event. I think the selection of work reflects this as well. It’s eclectic and diverse, with a little bit of something for everyone.

Naturally, there was work that resonated with me much more strongly, but that’s to be expected. Below are a few highlights.

Raskols: The Gangs of Papua New Guinea by Stephen Dupont

The theme relates to urban gangs and criminals in the capital Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea. It looks inside the world of cults and kustom and tribal culture: what happens to traditional society when urbanisation and globalisation take over. The portraits provide a window into the faces behind the facelessness of gang and criminal activities.

I thought this was one of the strongest exhibits. These portraits are intense and when I entered the container to look at them on Saturday my lackadaisical mood quickly changed and muttered to myself, “fucking hell, these are good.”

Dying Breed: Photos of Bedford Stuyvesant by Russell Frederick

….documenting a culturally diverse community at risk. The work raises important questions on the evolution and potential breakdown of traditional neighborhoods.

Again, this is very intense work, but also very compassionate. I look forward to checking it out again this weekend.

©Lizzie Sadin

Cruel & Unusual A gripping look behind prison walls.

By request of Noorderlicht, guest curators Hester Keijser and Pete Brook have brought together work by eleven women photographers, presenting quite unexpected photography of great variety, revealing life behind bars.

Artists include: Araminta de Clermont, Amy Elkins, Alyse Emdur, Christiane Feser, Brenda Ann Kenneally, Jane Lindsay, Deborah Luster, Nathalie Mohadjer, Yana Payusova, Lizzie Sadin, Lori Waselchuk

Curated by: Hester Keijser & Pete Brook

Presented by: Noorderlicht Photography

It was great to see this in person after reading so much about it online over the last few months. More than once I heard several people mention this in passing as something that must be seen.

There were a few other photographers that I really liked, but I’m actually withholding sharing because I’ll probably feature them at length at some point in the future.

  • Austin Scott Brooks

    I did not get to attend any talks at Photoville NYC 2012 but I enjoyed most of what I saw. What stood out the most wasn’t actually the photography but the Greenhouse by  André Feliciano. That and devouring some Frites ‘n’ Meats afterwards. The exhibit is definitely a must see for Brooklyn
    Bridge Park.