© Bénédicte Vanderreydt

Backlight Photo Festival is the oldest international photography festival in Finland, run by a non- profit association Photographic Centre Nykyaika in Tampere. In 2017 we celebrate our 30th jubilee under the wide theme of Independence. As in previous editions we are keeping our focus on social issues from global perspectives to individual experiences and views, hoping to challenge, expose and encourage discourses outside the mainstreams.

The open call jury Tuula Alajoki (Backlight photo Festival, Finland), Miha Colner (International Centre Of Graphic Arts, Slovenia), Ângela Ferreira (independent curator, teacher and researcher, Portugal/Brazil) and Tina Schelhorn (Galerie Lichtblick, Germany) selected series from 22 artists from 12 countries for the exhibitions. The main location of the event is in the Tampere Art Museum, in addition to this exhibitions will be seen in September-October in Nykyaika, Gallery Koppelo, Gallery Ronga and Museum Centre Vapriikki.

The series selected show us attempts and battles for independence as well as letting go of it. Cultural identities and their traditions create expectations on how to be and how to live ones life, but at the same time the surrounding expectations meld with universal longing for equal opportunities, freedom of choice and experience of oneself being accepted as oneself to the surrounding community.

No matter individual, common or national independence, independence is a value. It is desirable recognition, sign of capability, coping, survival and strength – a matter of honour. It is an achievement whose sovereignty is admired and whose sanctity is defended. Becoming independent requires bilateral detachment. Transfer of both power and responsibility, redefining the borders and relations between neighbours, parents with their children, individuals with their surrounding communities as well as with oneself and ones abilities.

Where the borders are drawn does not only depend on us. As nations and as individuals we are dependent on each others and the changing values and demands of the society and global developments. Economic, social and emotional dependencies of others   affability and support, the acceptance from our families, near ones and the community force us to adjust ourselves to limited independence and decision making. This is also why we should respect and support, not ignore the independence or attempts of it for the others. Independence and freedom that it brings along with, is not a commensurable persistence state to any of us.

In 2017 we are also celebrating the centenary of Finland with an exhibition tour of seven Finnish photographic artists exhibited in seven European countries during the year.

More about the Independence Through the Lenses -tour here.

We are also pleased to award three photographers with the special Majaoja -prize in total 18.000 euros, from the Majaoja –foundation during our opening ceremony on September 8. 2017. The opening weekend with exhibition openings, portfolio reviews, discussions and informal gatherings, sauna and the jubilee party will be on 8.-10. September 2017.