What Photography Can Be   

17 March – 9 April 2023

Opening Weekend 16 – 19 March

Over 30 exhibitions over 15 venues over 30 days

For the eleventh edition of FORMAT International Photography Festival, we’re delighted to welcome you back to the city of Derby, following an online hiatus during the Covid-19 pandemic, to celebrate, discover and question What Photography Can Be. Founded in 2004, FORMAT has helped place the UK photography scene on the international cultural map, making it a must-attend event.

FORMAT23 runs from 17 March to 9 April 2023 throughout Derby, in the city’s museums, art galleries and historic, pop-up and renovated spaces and buildings. There are over 30 exhibitions, including portraits of some of Derbys residents in the exhibition A Perfect Sentence by Oliver Chanarin at the Museum of Making; an archive of images from Derby’s club and dance scene through the 60’s at Déda and an outdoor exhibition which highlights the most loved areas and people of England’s high streets – including Derby.  

QUAD will house four exhibitions, which take place in the month-long festival and beyond. Radical Souls is the festival lead exhibition, featuring four artists who use still and moving image to explore how dance, in its limitless forms, is used as a revolutionary tool for expressing self-identity, reaching out for freedom and communicating experiences which transcend the abilities of spoken language. Featuring artists Cecelia Bengolia (Argentina), Dele Adeyamo (UK), Luciana Demichelis (Argentina) and Volta Yang (China); the work shown traverses Dance genres and styles that are not governed by rules of strict technique but those that are instead fed through emotion, culture, sounds and in some cases, rebellion. Curated by Niamh Treacy, Radical Souls will be in QUAD Gallery from 17 March to 2 July 2023.   QUAD’s Extra Gallery Spaces will feature Young FORMAT; including work from QUAD’s three Schools in Residence: Pear Tree Juniors, Derby Moore Academy and Horizons 6th Form; QUAD Young Advocates Open Call; QUAD Young Creatives, CYAN CITY and Burton and South Derbyshire Collage student showcase. Also on show is Gestures of Resistance, an exhibition curated by Aisling Ward as part of our UK/China residency in partnership with 501 Xu Artspace in China. Gestures of Resistance contemplates the significance of the socially-constructed body, to uncover the political momentum that the body can generate in contemporary society, and to establish a reflective context for our cultures that bears witness to the contingency of performing in a pandemic.  

FORMAT OPEN Call presents the work of photographers and artists who have been selected via an International Open Call in. The photographs include diverse themes such as how environmental and climate changes are affecting communities across the world; the realities of how our food production might look in our not so distance future, examinations of new belief-systems inspired by folk law, secret military programs and the appropriation of indigenous spiritual practices. The FORMAT23 OPEN Call artists will be showcased in various venues across the city including: QUAD, City Lab, Déda and University of Derby, Markeaton Street.   The biennale festival incorporates QUAD, University of Derby, Museum of Making, Déda, Dubrek, Artcore, City Lab, The Smallprint Company, Derbion shopping centre, Banks Mill, Derby Cathedral and an outdoor exhibition in Derby’s high streets.  The festival also includes satellite venues such as The Wireworks Project in Ambergate and LCB Depot in Leicester. The festival was established by QUAD in 2004 and is the UK’s leading festival of photography and related media, organised by QUAD and CCIRC, (Creative and Cultural Industries Research Centre) of the University of Derby.

The FORMAT23 programme includes exhibitions, talks, workshops and events, many taking place over the opening weekend, from 16 to 19 March 2023, with Exhibition Previews on the Festival Launch night, Thursday 16 March from 5:00pm. The FORMAT23 Conference presents a range of high-profile international speakers, artists, writers and academics who will discuss themes relating to What Photography Can Be. The FORMAT Conference is organised by QUAD and CCIRC. The FORMAT23 Conference takes place at QUAD on Friday 17 March.

The FORMAT23: Portfolio Review, the UK’s biggest photography portfolio review, is an opportunity for photographers to have their portfolios reviewed by over fifty international photo editors, curators, publishers and festival directors. The FORMAT23: Portfolio Review takes place at The Chocolate Factory in Derby on Saturday 18 March and online on Friday 31 March. Places need to be booked in advance.   The FORMAT23 Photobook Market features over 15 international publishers and collectives curated by Francesca Seravale and takes place in Derby Museum and Art Gallery on The Wardwick, from 17 to 19 March.

  • Exhibition
Currently Showing
23 September 2023 to 7 January 2024
  • Exhibition
Currently Showing
6 November to 31 December 2023
  • Exhibition
Currently Showing
30 November to 29 December 2023