Doing it for themselves

Miniclick’s Gemma Padley has interviewed the UK’s photography professionals about the role of communities and why they are more important now than ever.

FORMAT’s artistic director Louise Fedotov-Clements has always been an advocate of collaboration and encouraging participation from a wide selection of different groups.

Read what she said here.

There are lots of communities that we engage with, she says. ‘We’re very much alive in figuring out which communities we’re working with and how we’re supporting people to enter into those communities. We try to democratise and facilitate access as much as we can.

‘[We want] to support all kinds of people to engage in and benefit from what we do, to feel as though they have an opportunity for their career, to sustain their practice,’ she continues. ‘These things shouldn’t be short-term, tokenistic programmes.’ Rather, it’s about having a really genuine, integrated, diverse programme.

Not unused to using the online space to grow communities, Fedotov-Clements and her team launched the initiative #MassIsolationFormat: Experiences of Covid-19 on Instagram early on in lockdown for which people were invited to share and tag their images. More than 30,000 images from more than 80 countries were shared. Stories of loneliness, mental health issues, grief and more came to light, says Fedotov-Clements – ‘all of the things that have been occurring during this extraordinary time.’ FORMAT is working with photography and design studio The People’s Picture to create an online archive of all of the images, and highlights will be shown in an exhibition at FORMAT International Photography Festival in March 2021.

Amazing things can happen anywhere,’ says Fedotov-Clements. Collaboration, as ever, is key. To date, FORMAT has worked with LagosPhoto Festival, the African Artists’ Foundation, New Art Exchange, the V&A as well as Miniclick, and both QUAD and FORMAT continue to join forces with creative ecosystems around the UK and throughout the world.

‘Cultural centres can be catalysts in supporting and helping creative communities to sustain,’ says Fedotov-Clements. These are difficult times, but ‘creativity doesn’t disappear. It can be hindered by a lack of finances, but people still have ideas and the will and energy to do something. As long as institutions keep trying to share and support opportunities, things will sustain.’

You can read the full article here