Last year, leading scientists declared we were living in an Anthropocene, that mankind's impact on the environment is so severe it has come to define the current era. On the one hand, rapid acceleration in industry and technology has created opportunity, advancements and mobility; on the other, the resulting conflict, displacement and threat to our climate has made it one of the most pressing issues of today.
The latest edition of Format, the UK's largest photography festival, seeks to collate personal responses to this most relevant of crises. Asking artists to explore the theme of "habitat", it will not only showcase those who are documenting the changing times, but encourage photographers to speculate on what the future holds.
"I felt the idea of the Anthropocene would be timely," said Louise Clements, artistic director of Format. "It's a concept that's important not just in art or photography, but more generally in terms of how we start to understand and come to terms with what is important in the world around us and our relation to it."
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Now in its eighth edition, the event brings together works from more than 200 international artists, displayed across 30 exhibitions in key locations in Derby, including Quad, University of Derby and the Derby Museum and Art Gallery.
At its heart will be Ahead Still Lies Our Future, in which curators Louise Clements and Hester Keijser invite ten international artists to imagine how our habitats will change in the future. The resulting works span from Lida Abdul's video installation, made in her homeland of Afghanistan, to an eye-catching tech-focused piece from Lisa Barnard.Also among the headline events is the festival's Open Call. Entries were received from 68 countries, each giving their personal interpretation of the overriding theme, and more than 50 projects have been chosen by a panel of judges to be shown in locations across Derby.
Continuing the global outlook, on display will be pieces from the pan-European Flaneur project. Inspired by its namesake – one who goes around observing society – it challenges contemporary photographers to use public spaces to inspire and showcase their work. Alongside new commissions, the Cathedral Green will be home to outdoor light boxes showing work from across the project.
Format17 runs across various locations in Derby from 24 March to 23 April 2017; formatfestival.com
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