Visitors viewing Liz Roberts’ site-specific commission at CampSITE Sculpture Park. Courtesy of FotoFocus

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FotoFocus Biennial Celebrates Largest Edition to Date

Posted on October 27, 2022

Over 100 Photography and Lens-based Art Exhibitions and Projects at 90 Venues Remain On View Throughout October and into Early 2023

FotoFocus, the Cincinnati-based non-profit arts organization devoted to photography and lens-based art, celebrated the opening week of the sixth edition of the FotoFocus Biennial September 29–October 8 with dozens of Biennial Program Week events. An ambitious collaboration between FotoFocus and the region’s museums, galleries, universities and non-traditional spaces, the FotoFocus Biennial brings international exhibitions and projects to a month-long celebration of photography in the Cincinnati region. This year’s edition unites more than 600 artists, archivists, curators, educators, and participants from around the world. The 2022 FotoFocus Biennial: World Record runs through the end of October, with many exhibitions remaining open longer.

The 2022 Biennial highlights photography’s extensive record of life on earth and humankind’s impact on the natural world with projects all centered around the theme of World Record. It encompasses more than 100 projects at 90 venues throughout the region. This year’s Passport Program—a program providing access to FotoFocus Biennial projects and members-only events—was made free for the first time ever. Additionally, many of the Biennial exhibitions are free to visit throughout October.

“The sixth edition of the Biennial brings home how FotoFocus serves as a hub and platform for national, international, and local artists and curators to create community together through the celebration of photography and lens-based art,” says Mary Ellen Goeke, FotoFocus Executive Director. “Over 1,300 visitors participated in the Biennial Program Week, bringing to life our central mission to produce thought-provoking, engaging, and accessible photography exhibitions and experiences.”

“This year we expanded curated sections of the Biennial to include even more guest curators and projects from around the world. They brought a nuanced range of dimensions to the theme of World Record, making for an enriching experience that raised questions about what we now face as a global community,” says ​Kevin Moore, FotoFocus Artistic Director and Curator.

Several of the FotoFocus-curated exhibitions are accompanied by new catalogues, artist books, and monographs.

L: Visitors at the opening of These Things Are Connected at The Carnegie. Courtesy of FotoFocus, R: Director, producer, and cinematographer Jeff Orlowski-Yang making a keynote address at the daytime symposium at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Courtesy of FotoFocus


The Biennial Program Week started with opening receptions at the Taft Museum of Art and Cincinnati Art Museum, which included a talk with curator Nathaniel M. Stein, artist David Hartt, and poet Jason Allen-Pasiant.

Tony Oursler addressed guests in conversation with FotoFocus Artistic Director and Curator Kevin Moore at the opening of his exhibition Crossing Neptune at Michael Lowe Gallery.

Dara Friedman’s film Dancer (2011) screened to a packed audience at the Contemporary Arts Center, followed by a conversation between Friedman and artist and singer Lizzi Bougatsos.

Two daytime symposia with talks, discussions, and keynote addresses by artists, curators and distinguished speakers took place at Memorial Hall and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

The Mayor of Cincinnati, Aftab Pureval, proclaimed October the Month of Photography on October 1 to wrap up the Daytime Symposium at Memorial Hall.

Artists JEB (Joan E. Biren), Lola Flash, and Diana Solís discussed their work shown in Images on which to build, 1970s-1990s along with Lesbian Herstory Archives Co-coordinator Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz in a panel at Memorial Hall moderated by the exhibition’s curator Ariel Goldberg.

Curators of On the Line: Documents of Risk and Faith Lucie Award-nominated Makeda Best and Kevin Moore discussed the group exhibition with contributing artists Mitch Epstein and Xaviera Simmons at the Memorial Hall symposium.

Artists, curators and visitors gathered for a street party to celebrate Ian Strange’s exhibition, Disturbed Home, at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, featuring work that was commissioned by FotoFocus and developed site-specifically in Cincinnati.

Deborah Willis and Cheryl Finley, curators of ‘Free as they want to be’: Artists Committed to Memory, co-moderated a panel discussion with artists Adama Delphine Fawundu, Daesha Devón Harris, and Wendel A. White at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center before celebrating the exhibition at an opening reception.

Emmy award-winning director, producer, and cinematographer Jeff Orlowski-Yang (Chasing Ice, Chasing Coral, The Social Dilemma) gave a keynote speech addressing the climate crisis through the lens of his films at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. 

Curators Matt Distel, Esther Callahan, Daniel Fuller, Cameron Granger, and Tif Sigfrids discussed the collaboratively-curated exhibition, These Things are Connected, at The Carnegie in Covington, KY in a panel moderated by author Sergio Aguillón-Mata.

Liz Roberts discussed her site-specific installation with curator Marisa Espe at a reception for Liz Roberts: Post Blonde at CampSITE Sculpture Park.

Throughout the week, opening receptions and talks were held at the Alice F. and Harris K. Weston Art Gallery, Art Academy of Cincinnati, CampSITE Sculpture Park, The Carnegie, Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Main Library, Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati Zoo, FLAG Studio, The Garfield Theatre, i.imagine Center of Photography, Kennedy Heights Arts Center, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Taft Museum of Art, and Wave Pool Gallery.

Full Program Week details can be found here on the website.

L: Lizzi Bougatsos and Dara Friedman in conversation after screening of Friedman’s Dancer at the Contemporary Arts Center, Top R: JEB (Joan E. Biren) and Ariel Goldberg discussing Images on which to build: 1970s-1990s during the symposium at Memorial Hall, Bottom R: Deborah Willis speaking on J.P. Ball at the symposium at National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Photos courtesy of FotoFocus


On the Line: Documents of Risk and Faith
September 9, 2022–January 15, 2023

Curated by Makeda Best and Kevin Moore, the works in this exhibition address a range of topics, spanning performance and the body, climate change, power, colonialism and identity, heritage, and territory. Collectively, they portray complex and contested relationships humans have with notions of environment, wilderness, nature, and place. The featured artists are Allora and Calzadilla, Francis Alÿs, Mohamed Bourouissa, Abraham Cruzvillegas and Bárbara Foulkes, Mitch Epstein, Patricia Esquivias, Dara Friedman, Jim Goldberg, David Hammons and Dawoud Bey, Rashid Johnson, An-My Lê, Mary Mattingly, Paulo Nazareth, Wendy Red Star, Mauro Restiffe, Lordy Rodriguez, Alessandra Sanguinetti, Kevin Schmidt, Xaviera Simmons, Tania Willard.

Images on Which to Build, 1970s–1990s
September 30, 2022–February 12, 2023

Curated by Ariel Goldberg, this sprawling exhibition explores the imaging practices within LGBTQ+ movements of the late 20th century that ignited processes of learning. The artists and archivists featured in the exhibition include Allan Bérubé, Ben Power Alwin, JEB (Joan E. Biren), Georgia Brooks, Loren Rex Cameron, Lola Flash, Allen Frame, Frank Franca, Paula Grant, Morgan Gwenwald, Saskia Scheffer, Diana Solís, and the activist and art collectives on view include Art + Positive, Electric Blanket AIDS Projection Project, GLBT Historical Society, Lesbian Herstory Archives, Sexual Minorities Archive.

Baseera Khan: Weight on History
September 30, 2022–September 24, 2023

For their first solo exhibition in the Midwest, Baseera Khan brings together new and recent collages, sculptures, and video, alongside a major new commission that responds to architectural signifiers of power. The exhibition is curated by Amara Antilla, Senior Curator at Large at the Contemporary Arts Center, and Ylinka Barotto, Independent Curator.

Ian Strange: Disturbed Home and Annex
October 1, 2022–December 9, 2022

Disturbed Home is a survey of Ian Strange’s architectural interventions, including photographic and filmic interpretations of those structural works. It highlights projects of the past twelve years and spans geographies from Strange’s native Australia, to New Zealand, Japan, Poland, and the United States, including Cincinnati, Ohio where the artist developed a site-specific installation commissioned by FotoFocus and curated by Kevin Moore, FotoFocus Artistic Director and Curator.

Tony Oursler: Crossing Neptune
September 29, 2022–October 31, 2022

Crossing Neptune, curated by Kevin Moore, features archival works on the theme of water from the personal collection of artist Tony Oursler—photographs, mostly anonymous, of baptisms, “blob monsters,” ice formations, and actual vessels of holy water—plus original installation works by Oursler on water as a transformative element embodying a long list of inherited, paranormal mythologies. 

These Things Are Connected
October 1, 2022–January 28, 2023

The Carnegie’s Exhibitions Director Matt Distel brings together curators Esther Callahan, Daniel Fuller, Cameron Granger, and Tif Sigfrids—all working in the realm of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region. Each curator selected and developed projects based on linking artists across different geographies: Dejiah Archie-Davis, Andrew Cenci, Thomas Dozol, Myra Greene, Jaida Grey Eagle, Lorena Molina, Kristin Rogers, Josh Sachs, Rebecca Steele, Xia Zhang.

‘Free as the want to be’: Artists Committed to Memory
September 30, 2022–March 6, 2023

The group exhibition curated by Deborah Willis and Cheryl Finley considers the historic and contemporary role that photography and film have played in remembering legacies of slavery and its aftermath and examines the social lives of Black Americans within various places including the land, at home, in photographic albums, at historic sites, and in public memory. Artists include Terry Adkins, Radcliffe Bailey, J.P. Ball Studio, Sadie Barnette, Dawoud Bey, Sheila Pree Bright, Bisa Butler, Omar Victor Diop, Nona Faustine, Adama Delphine Fawundu, Daesha Devón Harris, Isaac Julien, Catherine Opie, Yelaine Rodriguez, Hank Willis Thomas, Lava Thomas, Carrie Mae Weems, Wendel A. White, and William Earle Williams.

Liz Roberts: Post Blonde
September 29, 2022–October 31, 2022

Liz Roberts’ new site-specific commission curated by FotoFocus Director of Curatorial Strategy Carissa Barnard presents an uninhabited drive-in tableau in which one automobile is left and others are repeatedly disembodied to form a large movie screen made from salvaged windshields. Nostalgic and thirsty for typical road movie tropes, the installation references the resurgence of drive-ins and the pining for collective voyeurism of movie screenings.

Natural World
September 30, 2022–January 15, 2023

Natural World is an expansive collaboration between visual artists David Hartt (Canadian, lives/works Philadelphia, b. 1967) and John Edmonds (American, lives/works New York, b. 1989), poet Jason Allen-Paisant, and Cincinnati Art Museum Curator of Photography Nathaniel M. Stein. In new photographs, textiles, sculptures, site-specific installations, and an artist-designed publication, the collaborators reflect on relationships between identity, institutions and their collections, ways of knowing and telling stories, and ideas about nature and naturalness. Their overlapping dialogues with the museum’s collections suggest that we learn—and can unlearn—what we perceive to be natural about the ideas and worlds we make and inhabit.

Craft and Camera: The Art of Nancy Ford Cones
October 1, 2022–January 15, 2023

For more than forty years, on a small riverside farm in Loveland, Ohio, Nancy Ford Cones (1869–1962) created photographs that earned her a national reputation during a time when female artists continued to struggle for recognition. Despite the praise she received during her lifetime, Cones’ imaginative and exquisitely crafted works were largely forgotten after her death. Curated by Pepper Stetler (Associate Professor of Art and Architecture History and Associate Director of the Miami University Humanities Center, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio), the exhibition resurrects the gifted artist’s career and contributions to the field of photography.

Sun Dogs
October 14, 2022–October 16, 2022

FotoFocus and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra present Sun Dogs, a program featuring pairs of composers and filmmakers in collaboration, each offering a unique perspective of the natural world through short-format films fused with new music performed by the CSO, conducted by CSO Creative Partner, Matthias Pintscher and produced in collaboration with Kate Nordstrum/Liquid Music. The program features world premieres by composers Arooj Aftab, Daniel Wohl, Rafiq Bhatia, and Dev Hynes; filmmakers Josephine Decker and Apichatpong Weerasethakul; and directors Mati Diop and Manon Lutanie.

L: Guests visiting Tony Oursler: Crossing Neptune at Michael Lowe Gallery. Courtesy of FotoFocus, R: Installation view of Ian Strange: Disturbed Home at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. Photo by Nicholas Namyar 


Artists featured in this year’s FotoFocus Biennial include Terry Adkins, Francis Alÿs, J.P. Ball, Dawoud Bey, JEB (Joan E Biren), Bisa Butler, Josephine Decker, John Edmonds, Mitch Epstein, Lola Flash, Myra Greene, David Hartt, Rashid Johnson, Catherine Opie, Tony Oursler, Liz Roberts, Xaviera Simmons, Wendy Red Star, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Carrie Mae Weems, Hank Willis Thomas, and many more.

Full Biennial artist and participant list available here

90 total participating venues including the 21c Museum Hotel, The Carnegie, Art Academy of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Contemporary Arts Center, Dayton Art Institute, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park and Museum, Taft Museum of Art, Wave Pool, and galleries at Northern Kentucky University, the University of Cincinnati, University of Dayton, Wright State University, Xavier University, and many more. 

Full Biennial venue information available here

Press Release originally published on October 27, 2022.