Lens Mix Conversation Series

FotoFocus is proud to present Lens Mix, a monthly virtual conversation series connecting speakers from different fields to comment on film, photography, and lens-based art. Created in celebration of FotoFocus’s tenth anniversary, the free series moderated by FotoFocus Artistic Director and Curator Kevin Moore invites speakers to explore each others’ artistic practice and projects through intimate discussions. Listen to previous Lens Mix conversations.

FotoFocus Lecture

October 1, 2020, 6pm EST Lens Mix 1: Roger Ross Williams and Lisa Cortés

Join Academy Award-winning director, producer, and writer Roger Ross Williams and Academy Award-nominated producer Lisa Cortés for an hour-long Zoom conversation moderated by Kevin Moore. As audiences turn to documentary filmmaking for truthful and complex narratives told outside the scope of mainstream media, this conversation between Roger Ross Williams and Lisa Cortés, who collaborated most recently on The Apollo (2019), asks the question: what stories urgently need to be told in today’s polarized and racialized political climate?

Roger Ross Williams was the first Black director to win an Academy Award, with his short documentary film Music by Prudence (2010). He has directed many critically acclaimed films, including the Academy Award-nominated Life, Animated (2016), which won the Sundance Film Festival Directing Award, and his recent HBO documentary about the iconic Harlem theater, The Apollo, which was the opening night film of the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival. His production company, One Story Up, is currently in production on a feature-length adaptation of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between The World and Me for HBO, an untitled documentary about civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, and a short film series with Topic and First Look Media. Williams is currently in pre-production on his first narrative feature film for Amazon studios, Cassandro, starring Gael García Bernal.

Lisa Cortés is renowned for creating challenging, visionary stories and has been distinguished by her commitment to empowering inclusive voices. She was the executive producer of Precious (2009) and recently worked with Williams as producer on The Apollo (2019). Her directorial debut, The Remix: Hip Hop X Fashion (2019), traces the impact of street fashion and African American creativity on global cultural trends and was recently released on Netflix. All In: The Fight For Democracy, which she co-directed with Liz Garbus and produced with Stacey Abrams, Dan Cogan and Garbus will be released by Amazon Studios in fall 2020.

Press Release (PDF): Lens Mix: A New Digital Conversation Series Connecting Artists, Filmmakers, and Creatives from Different Fields

November 21, 2020, 3pm EST Lens Mix 2: Mitch Epstein and Terry Tempest Williams

Join internationally renowned photographer Mitch Epstein and writer and conservationist Terry Tempest Williams for an hour-long Zoom conversation moderated by FotoFocus Artistic Director and Curator Kevin Moore. The year 2020 will live in infamy as a time of particularly acute and complex crises, with acrimonious politics layered upon social unrest and environmental affliction. Epstein and Williams, both Guggenheim Fellows, will discuss their explorations in photography, writing, and advocacy, and examine the myriad transgressions against American lands and the peoples struggling to survive there.

Mitch Epstein is a pioneer of 1970s color photography who has captured America’s landscape and psyche for fifty years. In his latest photographic series, Property Rights, he questions who owns the land, by whose authority, and with what rights. He began the series in 2017 at Standing Rock, where thousands protested the Dakota Access Pipeline on Sioux land, and he has continued his exploration into America’s abuses of power this year with photographs of Southern Confederate monuments and Black Lives Matter protests.

Terry Tempest Williams is a writer who speaks out on behalf of an ethical stance toward life. A naturalist and fierce advocate for freedom of speech, she demonstrates through her work how environmental issues are social issues that ultimately become matters of justice. She is the author of Erosion: Essays of Undoing (2020) and Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place (1991) and her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Orion Magazine, and numerous anthologies worldwide as a crucial voice for ecological consciousness and social change.

Press Release (PDF): Lens Mix 2: Mitch Epstein and Terry Tempest Williams

December 10, 2020, 6pm EST Lens Mix 3: Laurie Simmons and Naomi Fry

Join acclaimed artist, photographer, and filmmaker Laurie Simmons and The New Yorker writer Naomi Fry for an hour-long Zoom conversation moderated by FotoFocus Artistic Director and Curator Kevin Moore. As pop culture evolves beyond television, film, and advertising into TikTok, online video gaming, and other digital platforms, social structures and gender identity are dramatically changing. Laurie Simmons and Naomi Fry will share their thoughts on—and enthusiasm for—life on the new media frontier and how it relates to their work.

Laurie Simmons is an internationally recognized artist. Since the 1970s, Simmons has staged scenes for her camera with dolls, ventriloquist dummies, mannequins and people, to create images with intensely psychological subtexts. The nonlinear narratives she creates echo memories and dreams. By the early 1980s, Simmons was at the forefront of a new generation of artists, predominantly women, whose use of photography began a new dialogue in contemporary art. Her work is part of the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, and The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among others. In 2006, she produced and directed her first film The Music of Regret, starring Meryl Streep, Adam Guettel and the Alvin Ailey II Dancers. The film premiered at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Her narrative feature film MY ART, which she wrote and starred in, premiered at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival and the Tribeca International Film Festival in 2017.

Naomi Fry is a staff writer at The New Yorker, where she writes about popular culture, books, and art.

Press Release (PDF): Lens Mix 3: Laurie Simmons and Naomi Fry