2023 10 21 AM Symposium at NURFC by Jacob Drabik 046 7R20154 IG
Charles Gaines, Artist, Los Angeles, CA; and Gee Horton, Visual Artist, Cincinnati, OH discussed their art as it relates to rites of passage and transformative experiences at The Convening in October. The panel was moderated by Justine Ludwig, Executive Director, Creative Time, New York, NY.

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2023: Our Year in Review

Posted on December 14, 2023

2023 has been an exciting year for FotoFocus. From watching construction progress on the FotoFocus Center, to hosting both the Visiting Lecture and Artist Series and Symposium, and planning for the 2024 Biennial, we managed to keep busy.

So, here we present: Five things that shaped our 2023.

Construction of the FotoFocus Center began January 9.

Construction on the FotoFocus Center continues to move forward with the Cross-Laminated Timber structure in place and structural steel for the window frames nearly complete. Roof insulation, parapet, and roofing materials have been installed as well. Following the completion of steel framing, exterior wall installation will begin.

FotoFocus anticipates the opening of the FotoFocus Center, a 14,700 square foot, purpose-built structure, designed to house photographic exhibitions and year-round programs, in spring 2025. Included in the FotoFocus Center will be nearly 4,500 square feet of gallery space. The new arts center is designed by local architecture studio JOSE GARCIA DESIGN + CONSTRUCTION in the Mount Auburn neighborhood, located at the northwest corner of Liberty and Sycamore Streets.

To learn more about the future home of FotoFocus, read this press release announcement of the FotoFocus Center.

We welcomed MacArthur fellow Sky Hopinka this year as part of the Visiting Artist and Lecture Series.

Sky Hopinka
Sky Hopinka, Mnemonics of Shape and Reason, 2021. HD video (color, stereo), 4 min 13 sec. Courtesy of the artist

Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk Nation/Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians) is a filmmaker, video artist, and photographer. His work centers around personal positions of Indigenous homeland and landscape—designs of language as containers of culture expressed through personal and non-fictional forms of media. He is fluent in Chinuk Wawa, a language indigenous to the Lower Columbia River Basin. Hopinka is an Assistant Professor of Film at Bard College and has joined as faculty at Harvard University in the Department of Art, Film, and Visual Studies. He received the 2022 Infinity Award in Art from the International Center of Photography, and is a 2022 MacArthur Fellow.

We welcomed Hopinka on Thursday, March 2, 2023 at the Cincinnati Art Museum.

FotoFocus Presents: Sky Hopinka
Watch the lecture at the link above if you were unable to join us.

We announced the theme for the seventh iteration of the FotoFocus Biennial: backstories and created a new category for participation (Call for Entry).

Held in October 2024, this edition will strive to uncover stories told through photography that may not be evident upon first glance.

Backstories are histories of what has happened previously, or out of view—stories that have not yet been told, or told differently by people whose voices have not been heard. Once told, they shed new light on circumstances and events. Backstories fill in where existing evidence ends, solving mysteries, or simply adding nuance to tell us things we need to know. Histories emanating from archives, discovered through reporting, or revealed through rumor provide essential contexts for understanding a given photograph. This year’s theme, backstories, considers the full context of a photograph, exploring broader histories, and acknowledging that vital information which often does not make it into the frame. 

FotoFocus will welcome global artists, curators, critics, educators, and regional visitors to experience and participate in exhibitions, talks, performances, screenings, and panel discussions. These various events will take place across museums, galleries, universities, and public spaces throughout the Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky,​ ​Dayton​ and​ Columbus, Ohio regions.

2024 FotoFocus Biennial Call For Entry
FotoFocus gave curators and artists the opportunity to pitch an exhibition and/or project to be featured in the 2024 FotoFocus Biennial. Six Call for Entry projects have been selected for the 2024 FotoFocus Biennial.

FotoFocus Announces 2024 Biennial Theme
Held in October 2024, this edition will strive to uncover stories told through photography that may not be evident upon first glance. 

We hosted the FotoFocus Symposium, The Convening, in collaboration with Creative Time.

Rael Teeter Totter High Res 16 9 Medium
Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello, Teeter Totter Wall, 2019. Steel, paint, 800 miles. Courtesy of the artist

FotoFocus and Creative Time held The Convening, a series of critical dialogues, artist interventions, and performances at various locations across Cincinnati on October 20 & 21, 2023. Featuring artists, critics, curators, and other distinguished guest speakers, the 2023 Symposium was structured loosely around three earth-based thematics—land, waterways, and trees, and brought together national and local artists, activists, and thinkers whose work considers histories of land, particularly American histories that coalesced in the Cincinnati region. A Friday-night welcome event and performance took place at MECCA OTR, which was followed by a full day of discussions held at two venues: the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and the Contemporary Arts Center, on Saturday.

Collaborations with partner venues, artists, and curators are a vital part of what makes FotoFocus such an impactful contributor to the community. This particular collaboration included conversations that provided our audience with an expanded understanding of the themes and photographic inquiry.

Read our behind-the-scenes conversations with participants featured below and then watch any conversations you may have missed.

The Convening Video Gallery

Q&A with Anissa Lewis, Artist and Wave Pool Executive Director

Q&A with Cincinnati-based Visual Artist Gee Horton

Q&A with Executive Director and Founder of The Well

Creative Time and FotoFocus Announce The Convening Schedule

Creative Time and FotoFocus Unite for The Convening in Cincinnati

We visited other ‘Ennial programs throughout the year.

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This September, a group of sixteen FotoFocus Patrons traveled from Cincinnati to Montreal, Quebec, to visit the Momenta Biennale de l’image. The group visited 12 of the 16 participating venues for gallery visits, artist talks, and behind-scenes-tours.

FotoFocus visited numerous ‘Ennial programs throughout the year including: the Inaugural Tennessee Triennial for Contemporary Art, CounterPublic, Momenta Biennale de l’image, and the Louisville Photography Biennial.

FotoFocus Patrons Experience Two Photo Biennials in One Month
FotoFocus Patrons enjoy many photo and lens-based art events during their 2-year membership. This September, a group of sixteen traveled from Cincinnati to Montreal, Quebec, to visit the Momenta Biennale de l’image. Shortly after their return to Cincinnati, they also visited the Louisville Photography Biennial in a full one-day adventure, truly making September a month to remember.

Stay tuned for 2024. We can’t wait for what we have in store.