2024 FOTOFOCUS BIENNIAL: backstories
Biennial Opening Program: September 26–28, 2024
An ambitious collaboration between FotoFocus and the region’s museums, galleries, universities, and non-traditional spaces, the FotoFocus Biennial is a month-long celebration of photography and lens-based art that unites artists, curators, and educators from around the world. Now in its seventh iteration, the 2024 FotoFocus Biennial encompasses projects at Participating Venues across Greater Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, and Northern Kentucky—the largest of its kind in America. This year’s Biennial showcases major new artist commissions and a wide range of original exhibitions, events, and projects, all centered around the theme of backstories.
The 2024 Biennial theme focuses on stories that are not evident at first glance. They offer context for what happened previously or out of view, providing narratives not yet told or presented from a new perspective. Yet once told, they shed light on current circumstances and events.
The FotoFocus Biennial Opening Program (Thursday, September 26 through Saturday, September 28, 2024) constitutes the core of the Biennial, establishing the theme and dialogues that unite the broader programming. Featuring keynote lectures, conversations, performances, screenings, tours, and receptions with international participants, the Program is designed to inspire conversations about the world through photography, film, and lens-based art.
While many venues are free and open to the public, the Biennial Passport offers access to special exhibitions and events during the month of October; an invitation to members-only programs; and entry into the FotoFocus Biennial Opening Program. The Biennial Passport will once again be free in 2024.
Press Release (PDF): FotoFocus Announces 2024 Biennial Theme
About the Theme
Each FotoFocus Biennial is structured around a unifying theme. The 2024 FotoFocus Biennial theme, backstories, focuses on stories that are not evident at first glance. They offer context for what happened previously or out of view, providing narratives not yet told or presented from a new perspective. Yet once told, they shed light on current circumstances and events. Backstories fill in where the evidence ends, adding nuance, solving mysteries, or simply telling us something we need to know.
To some extent, all histories are backstories. Histories emanating from archives, discovered through reporting, or revealed through gossip provide essential contexts for understanding a given photograph. Similarly, series of photographs have built-in backstories, offering greater context for those singular images we tend to valorize as “telling the whole story.”
In all these instances, what is visible on the surface—what is easily photographed—is enlarged and enriched through an understanding of broader histories, by seeing beyond what is evident, by knowing the backstories.
How To Participate
2024 FotoFocus Biennial: backstories
The Participating Venue Application for the 2024 FotoFocus Biennial is now closed, and there are currently no open call exhibition opportunities. Once available, they will be listed here.
2026 FotoFocus Biennial
Applications will be available for the 2026 FotoFocus Biennial in the Summer of 2025. If you are an institution, photographer, or lens-based artist who has access to an exhibition space in the Greater Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, and Northern Kentucky area that is interested in participating in the 2026 FotoFocus Biennial—please complete this form.
For additional information and questions related to the application process, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.