FotoFest Looks to Russia for Emerging Photographers

FotoFest, the largest and longest-running photography festival in the United States, will look to Russia for inspiration in its 2012 Biennial, which will operate under the theme "Contemporary Russian Photography." The festival, which is based in Houston, will showcase Russian photographers from the 1950s to the present.

Well before then, though, FotoFest hopes to encourage and foster a new generation of Russian photographers through a portfolio review in Moscow that will begin August 29. This will be the first portfolio review of its scale and scope in Russia, Dasha Zhukova, founder of the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture in Moscow, said in a press conference Wednesday morning. The Garage Center is collaborating with FotoFest on the portfolio review.

"It's a sad fact that many artists are unrecognized during their lifetime because they weren't in the right place at the right time," Zhukova said. "Hopefully this will be the right place and the right time for many."

The 2012 FotoFest Biennial takes place March 16 through April 29 in Houston.

FotoFest Artistic Director and Co-Founder Wendy Watriss, speaking from Moscow, explained that part of the purpose of the portfolio review is to give emerging photographers access to organizations who might be interested in their work. "It's designed to break down those hierarchies and democratize those organizations," she said.

In addition, it will allow Russian photographers to show their work in an international setting. "I hope we reach the depth of Russia," Zhukova said. "I hope we reach people who don't always have the opportunity to speak up."

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