First Glance: LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph

Courtesy Massimo Vitali
Courtesy Massimo Vitali
The beach at Coney Island, NY from his latest book Natural Habitats exhibited at Chroma Arts Project June 3-26.

An international photo festival in Charlottesville, Virginia? On paper, it seems an unlikely fit.

“Don’t kid yourself,” warns Scott Thode, editor of VII The Magazine and a guest curator of the LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph. “There’s a real appreciation for photography here.”

After one year off, the three-day photography event returns to Charlottesville, Virginia June 9-11 with a lineup of exhibitions, outdoor projections and a lecture series curated by Thode and Kathy Ryan, director of photography for The New York Times Magazine.

Courtesy Shannon Wells

A captivated audience watches WORKS, the final Saturday night projection at the 2009 festival.

Each year’s festival centers around three core photographers, called INSight artists, who present an exhibition and participate in on-stage interviews to speak about their process, inspiration and work. This year’s honorees are Antonin Kratochvil, Massimo Vitali, and Nan Goldin, —all artists presenting work during the festival’s MASTERS Talks series. Each of their shows will focus on the theme of “HOME.”

Thode says the festival theme came to him as he was working on Kratochvil’s show (titled “Homeland”)—the photographer had just moved back to Prague after 40 years of exile. “This whole idea occurred to me that he was going home, and this idea of home, and of building his show around the concept of home came to me,” says Thode. “It’s a very loose concept… it’s about friends, it’s about coming back and having a place of meeting and carrying about each other… things like that.”

Though the title of Goldin’s exhibition, “Scopophilia” is derived from the Greek words “scopo” (to look) and “philia” (love of friends), her collection of images was actually inspired by a moment of solitude in the Louvre museum in Paris. Meanwhile, Vitali’s exhibition examines human communities, with several images depicting groups of people in nature.

Mary Ellen Mark, Christopher Anderson, Ashley Gilbertson, LaToya Ruby Frazier and Steve McCurry, among other photographers, will present work and participate in the nightly MASTERS Talk Series.

Courtesy Zach Wiginton

The 2009 TREES exhibit featured wildlife photographer To Mangelsen's work. The banners hang in trees along the Downtown Mall throughout the month of June.

Rounding out the event will be the TREES exhibit, in which George Steinmetz’s aerial photographs of global landscapes will be projected onto banners in the trees along the city’s downtown pedestrian mall. “The town just lends itself perfectly to a festival like this,” Thode says. “And it’s got the atmosphere of people who really enjoy themselves.”

— Reporting by Feifei Sun. Produced by Vaughn Wallace.

The LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph begins on Thursday, June 9th, and continues through Sunday, June 11th. A complete schedule of events is available at LOOK3.org. The festival has sold out of passes, although a special “Big Love” pass is still available.


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