CHANGING CIRCUMSTANCES: Looking at the Future of the Planet           FotoFest 2016 Biennial

Exhibitions and Programs
March 12 – April 24, 2016 in Houston, Texas USA

The focus for the 2016 Biennial, FotoFest’s 16th International Biennial of Photography and Mixed Media Art, is humanity’s relationship with the changing planet. CHANGING CIRCUMSTANCES: Looking at the Future of the Planet, the Biennial theme, will be explored in a series of exhibitions, videos, films, books and educational programs with over 30 leading international artists, scientists, and environmental experts.

“Confronting the ever-quickening pace of global change is a major challenge for humanity, and we must meet it with creativity and new thinking,” says Steven Evans, FotoFest Executive Director. “CHANGING CIRCUMSTANCES: Looking at the Future of the Planet examines the dynamics of change and the potential for creative action as seen through the work of exhibiting artists, participating scientists and environmental thinkers in the 2016 Biennial.”

The 2016 Biennial exhibitions and associated programs are curated by Wendy Watriss, Steven Evans and Frederick Baldwin. Wendy Watriss and Frederick Baldwin are Co-Founders of FotoFest. The full list of artists and partner organizations featured in the FotoFest 2016 Biennial will be announced in January 2016.

“The exhibitions present the experiences and stories of artists who have lived and worked for many years in close proximity to the natural world that surrounds and supports human civilization,” says Ms. Watriss. “The artworks combine visual imagery of the earth with the words of the artists and those of scientists and philosophers with whom they have collaborated.”

FotoFest’s 2016 Biennial CHANGING CIRCUMSTANCES exhibitions will be located in four venues. Three of the venues are converted warehouses in Houston’s newly established Washington Avenue Arts District, part of the city’s historic First Ward, west of Downtown. The fourth venue is Williams Tower, the landmark building by architect Philip Johnson in Houston’s Galleria area.

FotoFest’s CHANGING CIRCUMSTANCES exhibitions are accompanied by six weeks of associated programming, including forums and dialogues on the relationship of human society and the environment. The programs include artist talks and video presentations, film programs, concerts, artist-curator exhibition tours, and a special school curriculum developed in relation to the Biennial theme.

FotoFest will produce a hardcover book on the environment and the ways in which international artists are addressing the impact of human society on the planet. The book will feature essays by scholars and art experts alongside artists’ statements and color reproductions works exhibited in the Biennial. The book is being published in conjunction with Schilt Publishing, Amsterdam.

FotoFest is partnering with contemporary arts organization Ballroom Marfa and the Public Concern Foundation to present Marfa Dialogues/Houston as part of the FotoFest 2016 Biennial. Founded in 2010, Marfa Dialogues was conceived as a symposium to broaden public exposure to the intersections of art, politics, and culture. In 2012, Marfa Dialogues expanded to consider the science and culture of climate change. Marfa Dialogues/Houston takes place in late March at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, and the Menil Collection. Previous versions of the conference have taken place in Marfa, TX (2010, 2012), New York (2013) and St. Louis (2014).

For the 2016 Biennial Film Program, FotoFest is continuing its long-time partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) Film Department and is collaborating again with the nationally known Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital to present international films exploring a range of important environmental topics. In addition to the multi-weekend Film Program at the MFAH featuring international environmental cinema and documentaries in April 2016, FotoFest will have a series of film events at the new Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston (MATCH) in March and April 2016.

FotoFest is working with two Houston-based music organizations to present concerts during the 2016 Biennial. FotoFest and nationally recognized chamber music and jazz organization Da Camera are co-commissioning the Houston premiere of The Colorado: a Film Oratorio on Tuesday, April 12, 2016. The music-driven documentary film performance features live, original music, and explores water, land and life in the Colorado River Basin. The project includes works from six composers, including Pulitzer Prize-winner John Luther Adams, and performances from vocal group Roomful of Teeth; drummer Glenn Kotche of the band Wilco; and Kronos Quartet cellist Jeffery Ziegler.

In conjunction with FotoFest’s 2016 exhibitions, the award-winning contemporary classical music ensemble Musiqa is commissioning composer Marcus Maroney to write a new and original composition of ekphrastic music inspired by individual artworks on exhibit. The concert will be performed by the composer at one of the FotoFest exhibition sites on Tuesday, April 5, 2016. The Musiqa program continues a collaboration between that organization and FotoFest that began in 2014.

FotoFest’s education program, Literacy Through Photography (LTP) has developed a new in-school curriculum for students based on the CHANGING CIRCUMSTANCES exhibitions. Developed in partnership with The Artist Boat, a Galveston, Texas-based non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the awareness and preservation of coastal areas and the marine environment, the curriculum is designed to engage students in the science of ecology with reference to the 2016 Biennial artworks. Literacy Through Photography is the year-round education initiative of FotoFest International, and celebrates its 25th year working to promote visual and written literacy to children in grades 3 through 12. Special curricula have been developed to accompany FotoFest Biennial themes since 2004.

Accompanying FotoFest’s Biennial exhibitions, over 100 independently organized exhibitions at venues across the city—museums, non-profit art spaces, commercial galleries, and artist-run spaces—will participate in the FotoFest Biennial. The 2016 Participating Spaces include: Contemporary Art Museum Houston; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Menil Collection; the Station Museum of Contemporary Art; the Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston; CENHS (the Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences at Rice University), in collaboration with the Rice Building Workshop; Arts Brookfield and the Houston Center for Photography.

FotoFest’s respected International Fine Print Auction takes place Tuesday, March 21 at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Houston Downtown, the headquarters hotel for the FotoFest 2016 Biennial. Renowned auctioneer and photography expert Denise Bethel, a veteran of Sotheby’s, leads the live auction, featuring 60 works from leading U.S. and international photographers.

One of the key programs of the FotoFest Biennial, its International Meeting Place Portfolio Review for Artists, takes place over 16 days in March 2016, at the Doubletree Hotel. The Meeting Place brings together 500 artists from over 30 countries, with 160 global photography experts – curators, gallery directors, collectors, book publishers, magazine editors, and others – for private one-on-one meetings. FotoFest’s portfolio review is the largest event of its kind in the world, and one of its most respected. A list of the international reviewers is available on the  FotoFest Biennial website.

FotoFest’s Meeting Place is accompanied by a series of public programs, including four public portfolio viewings, Evenings with the Artists, which give collectors and the public a chance meet and interact with the many artists from around the world that attend the portfolio review. As part of the programs for Evenings with the Artists, FotoFest organizes public Artist-Curator Dialogues, offering insight into artists’ work. These events take place at the Doubletree Hotel, and will be listed on the FotoFest Biennial website.

Between review sessions, FotoFest is organizing a series of workshops for artists and the public, including Long-term Projects – Planning and Editing; Creating Artist Books; and Developing and Maintaining a Photographic Artist’s Archive.

The single non-thematic exhibition presented by FotoFest during the Biennial is the popular Discoveries of the Meeting Place; featuring ten artists identified as particularly noteworthy “discoveries” from the FotoFest 2014 Biennial. The ten artists are chosen by ten invited curator reviewers from the 2014 review. The 2016 featured artists are: Mary Ellen Bartley (selected by David Drake, Ffotogallery, UK); Clare Carter (selected by Katherine Hart, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, NH); Max De Esteban (selected by Pavel Banka, Fotograf Magazine, Czech Republic); Roger Eberhard (selected by Ariel Shanberg, Independent Curator, NY); Leonora Hamill (selected by Christopher Rauschenberg, Blue Sky Gallery, OR); Maxine Helfman (selected by Celina Lunsford, Fotografie Forum Frankfurt, Germany); Mathab Hussein (selected by Maggie Blanchard, Twin Palms Publishers, NM); Jason Larkin (selected by Joan Morgenstern, Private Collector, TX); Diana Matar (selected by Sujong Song, Independent Curator, South Korea); and Meghann Riepenhoff (selected by Karen Irvine, Museum of Contemporary Photography, IL).

Other public events planned for the festival’s six-week schedule include lectures and additional forums organized with universities, artist and curator-led exhibition tours, a collectors weekend, book signings, and bicycle tours of the Biennial exhibitions.

FotoFest produces a comprehensive listing of FotoFest exhibitions, public programs, and participating spaces, online and in its printed Map and Calendar. Over 15,000 copies of the printed calendar are produced, and distributed regionally in February and March.

For further information or visuals, please contact: Vinod Hopson, FotoFest Press Coordinator at 713.223.5522 ext 26 or


IMAGE: Mandy Barker, HongKong Soup:1826 – Spilt, 2012. Representing 150 tonnes of nurdles, (pre-production pellets) spilt from a cargo container during Typhoon Vicente on July 23, 2012, adds to Hong Kong’s waste issues in the sea and on its beaches. The image mirrors the night sky on the day of the spillage depicting a collection from 6 of the worst affected beaches. Courtesy of the artist

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