Welcome to the Backlight Photo Festival 2014 Blog



Dear Friend,

Welcome to the Backlight Photo Festival 2014 Blog

The idea of this blog is to open and strengthen the forthcoming Backlight theme and the festival structure with shared knowledge. For the blog Backlight will invite writers and researches from different professional and cultural backgrounds to provide a text related to the festivals theme (widely understood as “trust”). The blog contributes as a kick-off for the main event and functions as a two-way channel between the Backlight team, artists, other professionals and the audience.

The blog is based on openness and we want to encourage people to participate already in the very beginning. By combining artist involvement, audience and different viewpoints in early stage Backlight wants consciously to widen its role from platform provider to a continuous dialogue-natured event. The blog is open for comments, suggestions and conversation.

Please do not hesitate to participate!

The blog is a sincere attempt to make the event a shared and interactant experience from early stage by providing guidelines and impulses for the open call (in the end of 2013) of the Backlight Photo Festival 2014.

The following introduction to the theme is a result from conversations between the signer and visual artist/curator Jussi Koitela (FIN) during the summer 2012.

Backlight 2014

The 10th edition of Backlight Photo Festival (Tampere, Finland) will be in fall 2014. Backlight continues the triennials tradition with focusing on social themes; relations between individuals, communities and societies. Backlight 2014 wants to provide thematically and functionally a platform for research and discussion about trust and how trust and dependencies create tensions and shape cohesion in modern societies.

About the theme

Backlight 2014 seeks visual forms for forces of survival, holding us together and apart in the world where we have productized trust and knowledge to tradable goods and left the ones who cannot afford it or do not “deserve” it to cope with indifference, confidence and ignorance. What can we still relay on?

How do these things come visible and how they are seen and used in present societies and contemporary photography? What has photography as an act to do with trust? What is photography but a tool of asking acceptance, asking to be trusted? The roles of the societies in Europe have rapidly changed due to economical uncertainty. Dissatisfaction and fear can be sensed in all layers of societies. Permanent is no longer in use. Global unbalance is feeding dependencies that will hardly be reciprocally dealt. Even so called welfare states are loosing their abilities to take care of their citizens equally as global problems turn into local. Can we still grab and count on mutual dependencies when balancing with order and bearing of uncertainties? Are we piling up societies through our actions or are the societies piling us up as replaceable steps for its purposes?

Trust is a form of social capital accumulating from private relations to voluntarily formed groups, associations and social clubs to established institutions. Shared interests and seriousness of the business, the higher stakes shape trust in the markets to reliability and credibility. Credibility is amiable, credibility is power. Power to start dividing us to good and bad, trustworthy and not, proper EU-citizens, we and the rest. We accept and welcome all the currencies for gambling when straining trust by the clauses of economy. Is it the need of minimalizing the damages what in the end keeps us together? Can we then build trust on experienced fairness? Honestly, we are not seeking for shared equal balance. Balance is a stable state that leads nowhere, competition is a healthy process keeping the world turning. Unfortunately there is not much left to compete and the eager we get. The fear of loosing or even sharing what we have gained prevents us from interfering with the far or unknown. Actually the very same forces [trust, love, fear, sense of belonging, emotional ties, dependencies, hope, money, suspicious, values, isolation, religion, poverty, shared history, duty, identities, addictions, comfortableness, reliability (…)] that hold us together hold us back and separate us in our European dream, which hardly no longer is a dream to anyone in it.

Still in parallel with the lack of necessaries and consequences of undone grows new variety of entities with yet uncovered potential. People are forming small open communities for their own sake and purposes, communities basing on voluntary belonging and trust. Trust is something we can not decide nor deny despite our conscious and unconscious attempts. Trust is being vulnerable and yet it can be felt as an alternative to dependency and control. Trust makes tomorrow easier to handle already today by making life predictable, reliable as a weather forecast.

The title for the next Backlight Photo Festival will be announced later. At the moment the event goes under a working title “Holding Cohesion”.

Backlight is warmly welcoming old and new friends to participate with comments and images and to build up trust together. How to build trust and confidence with each other, with photography and as a photography festival? Please share your views with us…

Please note that Backlight cannot oversee or take responsibility of the possible misuse of material send to the blog. Therefore if sharing images or quotes please mention the source and keep up good manners with the copyright.

With open arms and mind

Tuula Alajoki

project manager

tuula.alajoki (at) backlight.fi