Curators Look Ahead to LOOK3

Stanley Greene—NOOR
Stanley Greene—NOOR
INSight Artist

Soukh ash-Shouyoukh, Northern Iraq, April 2004. Roadside bombing attack on a pipe-line.

The very day after the 2011 LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph ended, this year’s guest curators—National Geographic photographer Vincent Musi and Washington Post visuals editor David Griffin—started to put together the slate of artists who will appear this coming weekend. The annual for-photographers-by-photographers event in Charlottesville, Va. runs June 7-9. But, says Musi, the weekend will include the work of more than one year: professional relationships and the curators’ senses of balance, both developed over many years, were key in the decision process.

The three artists chosen by Musi and Griffin to be this year’s INSight Artists—the featured photographers who, Griffin says, must be people who have made a significant body of work and can inspire other photographers—are Stanley Greene, Donna Ferrato and Alex Webb. Masters talks will be given by Ernesto Bazan, Hank Willis Thomas, Lynsey Addario, Bruce Gilden, Robin Schwartz and Camille Seaman; David Doubilet is this year’s TREES Artist, whose work will be hung in trees along Charlottesville’s downtown pedestrian mall.

Although the festival does not have an explicit theme, Musi says that a documentary slant is strong in all of the featured work. “We also have this crossover because advertising and the fine-art world are really stepping up and doing a lot of what journalism used to do,” he says. And it goes both ways: he cites Hank Willis Thomas as someone who is using journalistic forms outside of the world of journalism. “The common thread,” Musi says. “is that everyone is very excited to have a foot in each world, but the work is very documentary in nature.”

Griffin echoes that sentiment, citing the aesthetic vision evident in Alex Webb’s work as an example of great journalism that “hits that beautiful spot” that touches the art world. He says that this year’s LOOK3 will place a heavier emphasis on individual shows for the speakers’ work, so that guests who attend the talks will be able to see the pictures discussed. There will be more than a dozen hours of onstage programming and a dozen print shows hung, which is more than in previous years.

Both curators agree, though, that the artists who present are not necessarily the highlights of the festival. “This is building a community and sustaining it, so that people go from one side of the stage to the other and back again,” says Musi. That community is made up of artists who attend as viewers, give talks a later year and then maybe teach a workshop some other time.

And artists who just hang out: “There’s a coffee house and it’s right outside of one of the hotels, and I just remember walking out each morning and David Alan Harvey would always be sitting out there having a cup of coffee,” Griffin says of past festivals, “and there’d be Martin Parr sitting with him or Jim Nachtwey, and you’d just walk up and sit down and start talking with a person. That’s one of the really cool things about the festival.”

More information about this year’s LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph, which will take place in Charlottesville, Va., from June 7-9, is available here.

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