Something unprecedented and amazing happened in the art world this September in Moscow. For the first time ever, 185 photographers — from more than 30 provinces, cities and towns throughout Russia, Ukraine and Belarus — came together for a week-long conference about contemporary Russian photography.
This great, diverse group of photographers was chosen from more than 2,400 applications. The participating photographers had the opportunity to show and discuss their work in a series of one-on-one meetings with 45 international photography experts (who came from 5 continents).
Of course, the photographers and experts also met each other, many for the first time. And during one special evening, the general public was invited to view the work of all 185 photographers. That was an overwhelming success.
I was very fortunate to be invited to meet the participating photographers and review their portfolios. I met one-on-one with 62 of them, each for 20-minute sessions, speaking directly, or with the help of expert translators. It was a very exciting experience to discover, first-hand, such a wide range of excellent photography that, in most cases, had never been seen outside of Russia before.
In future issues of Lens Culture, we will present in-depth features from some of the most interesting photographers. But for the moment, here are our top picks — representative photographs from 43 of the photographers whose work attracted me the most. In my opinion, each of these photographers has potential to generate international interest, and are therefore well worth watching.
I’m very excited about these photographers – and it is impossible to imagine how I would have discovered them or their work, without this excellently organized 5-day portfolio review event. It was a tremendous experience, and it reminds me that I have one of the best jobs in the world.
This was the first time that a photography exhibition of this scope and scale was held in Russia, and it offered unparalleled opportunity for the participating photographers to become known in the international marketplace.
Local cultural media proclaimed the International Portfolio Review for Russian Photographers in Moscow to be “one of the most important cultural events in Russia over the last 20 years.” Even The Wall Street Journal wrote about this event. For more details, and to discover the impressive list of international photography experts who participated, please see the website: www.portfolioreview-russia.com/.
Thank you very much to our generous hosts and organizers who made this all happen: The Garage Center for Contemporary Culture in Moscow, The Iris Foundation, RIA Novosti, FotoFest International (Lens Culture’s partner for our own annual portfolio review in Paris: Lens Culture FotoFest Paris), and the esteemed Russian photography curators Evgeny Berezner, Irina Chmyreva, Natalia Tarasova, and their team members Alisa Nikulina, Evgeniya Slobodnick, and Daria Zaytseva. And my gratitude to all of the artists who participated, as well.
— Jim Casper