Addressing the political, social, cultural climate and raising social issues, the Belfast Photo Festival is one of the leading photography events in the UK and Northern Ireland.

The festival promotes the importance of NI’s visual culture and history, and at the same time, it highlights the exceptional work of many award-winning local and international artists.

This year’s theme is Future Visions. The four-week event will focus on a subset of themes, offering exhibitions and discussion panels for visitors to enjoy. 

Environmental Future(s)

The first week’s talks and exhibitions concentrate on the environmental issues today’s society faces. 

‘Shroud’, the collaborations by photographers Simon Norfolk and Klaus Thymann, confronts the viewers “with a stark portrait of man’s pathetic attempts to stop the effects of global warming and provokes us to consider the role of community actions in the face of environmental catastrophe.”

‘Soup’, by Mandy Barker, is a collection of images depicting the plastic debris suspended in the sea, particularly the Garbage Patch, the mass accumulation of debris in The North Pacific Ocean.

‘Reef’, by Polish photographer Alicja Wrôblewska, shows pictures of objects made using disposable plastic. These items act as a representation of the reefs of the future.

Marcel Rickli’s exhibition, ‘Aeon’, explores how we can protect future generations against highly radioactive waste produced in our nuclear power plants, medicine, research, and industry.

Social Future(s)

The second week’s discussions and exhibitions concentrate on social issues.

This week introduces Zanele Muholi’s expression of the politics of race, racism and colonialism in Somnyama Ngonyama; 

Davion Alston’s photographic series documenting the 2020 Georgia protests against the killing of unarmed Black people by the police force in ‘Stepping on The Ant Bed’;

Suzanne Lacy’s explorations of the impact of the border and Brexit on the lives of local people is a collaboration of several artists in the exhibition, Across and In-Between;

And the group project titled ‘Sorry, Neither’ the study into Afrofuturism and Black futurity within contemporary art and pop culture.

Photographic Future(s)

The third week’s exhibitions will focus on the future of photography. 

Quentin Lacombe’s work in ‘Event Horizon’ is a personal attempt to construct a cosmology through photographic means.

The group exhibition ‘And, if we observe the present’ investigates how the idea of a future can be visualised, predicted and prepared for.

Benoît Jeannet’s ‘Escape from Paradise’ is a research-based project where each photographic event builds and merges its before and after, its context and consequences. 

Technological Future(s)

The final week will explore how technology influences our lives.

In ‘States of Control,’ Carola Lampe’s and Sam De Buysere’s work will delve into the topics of surveillance, facial recognition technology and the commodity of our online data.

Kensuke Koike and Thomas Sauvin’s collaborations in ‘I See You’ will present visitors with a deconstructed photo collection with the message: “nothing is removed, nothing is added, “No More, No Less.”

David Vintiner’s & Gem Fletcher’s exhibition titled ‘I Want To Believe’ dissects transhumanism, believing that human beings are destined to transcend their mortal flesh through technology.

Maija Tammi’s conceptual ‘One of them is human’ exhibition features portraits that present three androids and possibly one human.

Belfast Photo Festival runs all through June 2021. Discussions and talks accompany all of the above exhibitions. So don’t miss out on these thought-provoking and fascinating exhibitions. 

For more information about the festival, go to https://www.belfastphotofestival.com, where you can find links to both the exhibitions and the accompanying discussions.