Photography has a pivotal role in shaping opinion, understanding and distinguishing fact from fiction. Exploring the complexities of the medium in an era of post-truth and fake news is Belfast Photo Festival. The month-long event presents a programme of exhibitions, talks, workshops and screenings across the city. In a world where countless new images are made each day, the 2019 edition responds to the theme of Truth and Lies, offering dialogues surrounding the manipulation and misrepresentation of photography. As Festival Director, Michael Weir, explains: “The festival responds to the erosion of trust in images, focusing on those sources of authority that many have come to question. We look at how the camera shapes our views and how the ability to manipulate the image has been utilised by photographic artists.”
This year’s highlights include work by Swiss artists Cortis & Sonderegger, examples of which are shown here. The duo recreate the world’s most iconic images – such as Robert Capa’s falling soldier in the Spanish Civil War and Henri Cartier-Bresson’s photo of a man leaping over a puddle at Gare Saint-Lazare – alongside more devastating moments from the recent global history. In rebuilding these scenes meticulously in miniature, the artists draw attention to the images’ construction, tapping into questions of authenticity in a world of rolling digital communication.
Magnum photographer Max Pinckers is also part of the 2019 line-up. Margins of Excess centres around the stories of six people who momentarily received nationwide attention in the US press, but were later revealed as “deceivers”. Pinckers’ body of work charts each unbelievable character and their stories, exploring different versions of the truth. “In this project, reality and fiction are intertwined,” the artist notes. “Not to fool us, but to reveal a more intricate view of our world, which takes into account the subjective and fictitious nature of the categories we use to perceive and define it.”
The event shines a light on work by international artists chosen from an open call. Judged by representatives from Tate Modern, Aperture Foundation, VICE, Kehrer Verlag, Magnum Photos, British Journal of Photography and Belfast Exposed, the festival offers a platform for both emerging and established artists. Collaborations with such organisations take place throughout June, creating, as Weir highlights: “A forum for industry professionals and emerging artists to network, develop, exchange – culturally and artistically – and promote the visual arts in Ireland.”
Belfast Photo Festival runs 6-30 June. Find out more here.
Lead image: © Cortis & Sonderegger