Festivals - Guide

Belfast Photo Festival 2024

The 10th-anniversary edition of Belfast Photo Festival is underway.

Running from June 6th to 30th, and delving into the theme of Divergence, Northern Ireland’s leading visual arts festival celebrates this milestone by transforming public spaces and historic sites with exhibitions from international artists, including the island of Ireland premiere of Richard Mosse’s Broken Spectre.

This year’s festival addresses the climate emergency, rapid digitalization, and ethical questions surrounding artificial intelligence through contemporary photography.

Among the many highlights for our money is the debut of Broken Spectre at Carlisle Memorial Church, supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Belfast Buildings Trust. This ambitious 74-minute installation by Richard Mosse immerses audiences in the Brazilian Amazon, representing climate change through a vivid audio-visual experience.

Elsewhere, Riddel’s Warehouse hosts SMILE AI, a dystopian installation that explores a future interpreted through AI’s statistical lens, by Dutch artist Matthias Oostrik.

Other stand-outs include Our Streets are Full of White Bears by Barbara Caillot and Aleksandra Karkowska at Belfast City Hall, supported by the Polish Cultural Institute. This project features the legendary White Bear of Zakopane, symbolizing Polish popular culture over the past century.

This year, the festival is also honouring Palestinian-American photographer Adam Rouhana with the Spotlight Award for his project Before Freedom. This year’s judging panel included representatives from renowned institutions such as TATE Modern, Centre Pompidou and Magnum Photos.

Festival Director Michael Weir expressed pride in the festival’s global reach and its role in engaging the community with innovative visual art.

“We are delighted to celebrate the 10th edition of Belfast Photo Festival by animating our city’s public spaces and its remarkable built heritage with world-class visual art,” he said. “Over the last decade, the festival has really pushed the boundaries and innovated new ways for the people of this city and beyond to engage with photography. We may be the Belfast Photo Festival, but our reach, and the appeal of this place as a cultural capital, is truly global.”

Weir continued: “International artists are keen to present their work on these shores and that is reflected by the huge response to our Open Submission competition, which attracted entries from photographers around the world. A massive congratulations to this year’s award recipient, Adam Rouhana, whose work is among 10 diverse and gender-balanced projects selected by an expert panel of independent judges to be presented at this year’s festival.”

This year’s Belfast Photo Festival includes over 30 partner exhibitions, talks, workshops, and screenings, showcasing diverse and innovative photography. For more information, hit up their website.

is the editor of The Thin Air. Talk to him about Philip Glass and/or follow him on Twitter @brianconey.