They are the largest photo festival in the Nordic region with more than 50 exhibitions in collaboration with galleries, museums and cultural institutions in Copenhagen and southern Sweden. The festival focuses on development. New forms of exhibiting, new ways to use photography as well as new perspectives and emerging talents. It presents a programme of high quality – artistically and conceptually – building bridges between fine art and documentary photography.
Below, we talked to the managing director Maja Dyrehauge Gregersen, and the curator Claire Gould:
The festival was launched as a non-for-profit organization in 2010 with the aim to create a platform for contemporary photography; a platform that explores photography in its various facets, for both theoretical debate and presentation. It is for the professional photography scene, young creatives, but also for photo enthusiasts to meet and explore photography today. We showcase Danish and Nordic photography and bring the international photography world to Denmark. This is achieved with our ever-growing networks and collaborations.
Furthermore, presenting contemporary photography in the urban space has also been a key focus, also in collaboration with the local art and cultural institutions. Our main festival site is located in a buzzing part of Copenhagen called Refshaleøen. It is a unique site which celebrates the harbour location’s history and ship building legacy. At our festival centre, and around the adjacent land, we branch out each year by creating temporary structures in (or on) which we present the exhibited works.
We also have a strong tradition of experimenting with how to exhibit. As we are not a ‘white cube’ space, we embrace the opportunities for exhibiting outdoors and in surprising locations. This said, we take great care in choosing materials and building methods in which to do this so that our carbon footprint remains minimal. This means, when we collaborate with architects, sustainability sets the framework for any experimentation. This is also true for when producing and showcasing the works to our audience.
Being a part of Futures offers our festival, as well as Nordic artists, professionals and audiences, a wider pan-European perspective on current tendencies in photography. Of course sharing expertise and knowledge is crucial in any expert field, but with Futures we are focusing on creating new opportunities for recent graduates or those graduating in 2021. We will engage our selected finalists from Futures Nordic Talents, as well as photography colleagues from the Nordics, to strengthen the Futures network furthermore. We expect this partnership to lead to even more inspiring collaborations in future years.
The Futures Nordic Talents is a new programme inspired by our invitation to join the Futures network. As the only partner from the Nordics we naturally took the focus of engaging regional talent. In the past, our festival has showcased both emerging and established artists. However, we realised there were little opportunities for those about to embark on their professional careers. So Futures Nordic Talents invites recents graduates from between 2019 and 2020 and those graduating in 2021, and who have Nordic residency, to submit an application to our open call, or Talent Search. We reached out to all Nordic educational institutions of art and photography, galleries and museums who naturally have direct contact with, and eyes on, emerging talents. We will select five finalists, one from each Nordic country to participate in programmes that will help boost their start-up careers. It includes a mentorship programme with portfolio reviews, a masterclass, diverse networking opportunities, and a unique day of one-to-one print production and mounting/framing expertise and consultation at Artproof, Estonia. The Futures Nordic Talents’ works will also be showcased at our festival in collaboration with students from the Royal Danish Academy of Architecture (KADK) who will design purpose-built exhibition architectural structures, or environments, for their works.
Copenhagen Photo Festival is one of just a few photography festivals in the Nordics and located in a capital renowned for its arts and culture. Our festival is one the oldest and most diverse festivals with a large network of exhibition partners who join us each year to celebrate photography and lens-based art. Our partners are an important factor in the festival's positioning and significance in the Nordics, broadening the creative content as well as geographic diversity of our festival.
The Nordic photography scene is vibrant with excellent art and photography educational institutions, as well as galleries and museums specialising in, collecting, or presenting, photography. Photography came to be accepted as an art form in the Nordics a little later than in many other European countries, but it is now a very dynamic part of the contemporary art scene. The Nordic Photography Network, established in 2012, is also evidence of the importance of photography in the region. Each Nordic country of course has its own local scene, but we are lucky in Copenhagen that geography makes us a natural hub for the region.