The Biennial will focus on Contemporary Arab Photographic Art, including video and multi-media installations. The Biennial will showcase more than 40 contemporary Arab artists using photography and related visual media to address a broad range of aesthetic and cultural values impacting Arab culture. The FotoFest 2014 International Biennial takes place March 15 through April 27, 2014, in Houston, Texas.“The FotoFest 2014 Biennial will present a focused selection of the best contemporary photography, video and photo-based installation art being done by Arab artists in the Middle East and North Africa,” says FotoFest Senior Curator and Artistic Director Wendy Watriss. “The Biennial will emphasize ideas and subjects important to contemporary Arab artists working with these media.”To realize the Biennial’s Arab exhibitions and programs, FotoFest has commissioned one of the world’s leading experts on contemporary Arab art, Karin Adrian von Roques, as the principal curator. Ms. von Roques has worked for over 20 years in the Middle East with exhibitions and publications on contemporary Arab art. She is one of the first curators in Europe to have initiated a series of exhibitions strategically aimed at bringing the work of Arab artists to the attention of a broader, international public.“The FotoFest 2014 Biennial will be the first presentation of contemporary photo-based and video art from the Arab countries to be done in the United States in recent years,” says Ms. von Roques. “We are looking at the work of the most important artists from several Arab countries.”
Photography and video are particularly important mediums for creative expression in contemporary Arab societies. With the expansion of Internet in the 1990s, a whole generation of younger people took up photography and video as a way to present artistic ideas.“In looking at the works of many contemporary Arab artists working with photography, we have seen a number of common,” says Ms. von Roques. “The FotoFest 2014 Biennial will feature some of these recurring subjects including: the emergence of secular art and culture in modern societies; the desert as metaphor; religion and faith in everyday life; a sense of belonging and feelings of estrangement; the complexities of East-West relationships; the rapidity of social, economic and environmental change, particularly in the Gulf region; the position of women in Arab societies; and the recent political changes in so many Arab countries.”2014 BIENNIAL THEME AND DATES - 01/09/2013, PAGE 2FOTOFEST 2014 BIENNIALFotoFest’s Artistic Director and Senior Curator, Wendy Watriss, known for her expertise in international photography and close working relationships with artists throughout the world, is collaborating with Ms. von Roques on the selection of artists and artworks for the biennial exhibitions.“We are very pleased to be working with Karin von Roques,” says Fred Baldwin, FotoFest Chairman. “Having curated exhibitions worldwide with contemporary Arab artists, she is a respected and knowledgeable authority on the region and its cultures. She is one of the world’s major consultants on contemporary art in this field.”FotoFest 2014 Biennial Curator, Karin Adrian von Roques. Photo by Franz FischerThe Contemporary Arab Photographic Art exhibitions will be accompanied by the non-thematic, biennial Discoveries of the Meeting Place exhibition of works by 10 artists selected by multiple curators from the FotoFest 2012 portfolio review. The 2014 edition of FotoFest’s renowned Meeting Place, a 16-day international portfolio review, takes place March 15–April 2, 2014. FotoFest’s International Fine Print Auction is scheduled for Monday, March 24, 2014, with special programs for collectors.Over 100 museums, art galleries, non-profit art centers and corporate spaces will participate in the FotoFest 2014 Biennial. In addition, there will be accompanying lectures, forums, special tours and a four-color Biennial catalogue and hardcover book on the Arab exhibitions.