Sexuality and Gender the Focus of Belfast Photo Festival 2017

This year's programme goes 'Beyond Pink and Blue', exploring how the camera can shape perceptions of identity over a month of exhibitions and events

Belfast Photo Festival returns from June 1 to 30 exploring the increasingly topical themes of sexuality and gender and how they relate to the perception and expression of identity and social constructs.

The biennial visual arts event will explore the pivotal role photography has in shaping opinion and the understanding of identity and selfhood through an extensive programme of indoor and outdoor exhibitions, talks, workshops, screenings, masterclasses, reviews and tours across 25 city-wide venues. As well as galleries throughout the city, this year’s visual arts experience will dominate major outdoor public spaces, supported by Alexander Boyd Displays.

Organisers describe this year’s festival as a bid to boost dialogue and conversation beyond the gender binaries of pink and blue that is normally assigned to newborns at birth; encouraging open-mindedness as the key take-home message. Representation, self-portraiture, ideology, the body, fashion and community will be the enduring themes in exhibited photographic works that are truthful, celebratory, poignant, political, domestic and erotic.

Commenting on the 2017 programme of events, Festival Director, Michael Weir, said: 'Few media can capture the nuances and interplay of outward experiences and internal narratives like photography. This year, the festival has taken as its inspiration the visual politics of sexuality and the ways in which the camera can be used to construct and deconstruct gender binaries.

'We are delighted to be able to welcome such esteemed artists to Belfast for this year’s festival and to present significant collaborations with international publications including Hello Mr., a magazine and community exploring the story of gay men today, and Dazed, the radical fashion and youth culture magazine.'

A-Solitary-Love-Affair-2016-©Juno-Calypso

A Solitary Love Affair, part of The Honeymoon Suite exhibition by Juno Calypso

Other highlights of this year’s festival include the Ulster Museum exhibition, Fashion - A Matter of Attitude, curated by Diana Edkins, a former curator at Condé Nast Publications and supported by Victoria Square; a talk by Mike Trow, current Picture Editor at Vogue; Juno Calypso’s startling photographic mission, The Honeymoon Suite; the return of the Royal Photographic Society’s International Print Exhibition and much more in venues throughout the city.

Weir added: 'One of the key focuses of Belfast Photo Festival is to provide young and veteran visual artists with a platform for development and collaboration. Each year, our open submission attracts entries from artists worldwide; entries which are then judged by respected figures in the photography industry including representatives from MoMa (Museum of Modern Art), New York Times, MACK, Foam, Magnum Photos, British Journal of Photography, IPA (Invisible Photographer Asia) and Belfast Exposed.

'Belfast is an immensely creative city, one that is expanding beyond its boundaries and seen as a global cultural hub. What Belfast Photo Festival builds on with each edition is its links with key players in the visual arts. The festival is a forum for industry professionals and emerging artists to network, develop, exchange – culturally and artistically – and promote the visual arts in Ireland.'

To view the full, newly-launched Belfast Photo Festival programme, visit www.belfastphotofestival.com.