FORMAT photography festival is back in Derby with another ambitious and bold programme of exhibitions. FORMAT19: FOREVER//NOW is on at venues across Derby until April 14.

The festival addresses new approaches to photography while also keeping a curatorial eye on its past.

In 2007 Lucy Soutter wrote about the ‘crooked’ expressive versus the ‘straight’ documentary photograph.

Since then photography has grown to encompass many manifestations of the ‘crooked’ image. Many no longer worry about narrative versus abstraction.

A new generation of photographers are embracing the rapid transformation technology and cultural exchanges bring to the medium.

It is these new approaches which are explored in FORMAT19.

Installation shot: Tristan Poyser


The idea of ‘forever’ is built into the very nature of photographs.

They record a moment and immediately present us with a visual memory of the past.

Forever touches upon our obsession with recording and sharing the continuous moments of our lives.

But is forever an illusion?

Can the immortality photography proffers quickly sour when digital anonymity becomes virtually impossible to obtain?

FORMAT’s organisers believe ‘now’ is the new photography orthodoxy where the message is all.

In a ‘post-truth’ era the message is the product regardless of whether it is a fictionalised story, factual narrative or an aesthetic mixture of the two.

The challenge for the photographer is how to establish their message in the now and stop it being transitory.

Installation shot: Alexandra Lethbridge

Festival highlights

This year’s lead festival exhibition is Mutable/Multiple.

It features the work of Max Pincker, Stephanie Moshammer, Amani Willett, Anne Golaz, Virginie Rebetez and Edgar Martins.

Curated by Louise Fedotov-Clements and Tim Clark, the exhibition encourages a further reevaluation of the photographic narrative form.

Each of the artists employ both fact and fiction. They weave their stories using archive images, press materials, literature, interviews and staged photography.

A new commission by Japanese artist Kensuke Koike will be on show during this year’s festival.

Cutting, tearing, disassembling and collecting best sums up Koike’s approach to his art.

He uses found photographs breaking image elements apart and re configuring them with precision and humour.

FORMAT19 is also hosting the premiere of SIXTEEN.This multimedia project asks what it is like to be 16 in today’s Britain.

Project director Craig Easton and editorial director Anne Braybon have worked with 16 film makers and photographers who travelled across the UK making a series of visual vox pops.

The collective narrative gives prominence to rarely-heard voices.

It tells of hopes, fears and who, or what, sustains this group of young people, as they transition into adulthood.

In partnership with the Derby Museum and Art Gallery and the V&A, FORMAT19 will also present White Heat of British Industry, 1950s-60s: Photographs by Maurice Broomfield.

The exhibition is curated by Martin Barnes, V&A senior curator of photographs.

Installation shot: John Angerson

FORMAT19 Open Call

This year’s open call received 657 entries of more than 10,000 images from 47 countries across five continents.

Of those, 54 were recommended for exhibition after being carefully selected by an international panel of judges.

“It’s always a pleasure diving in a pool of interesting entries at the FORMAT Open Call,” said judge Erik Kessels, Netherlands/Kessls&Kessels.

Fellow judge Sarah Allen from Tate said: “Format is a fantastic platform for photographers to show their work and each festival showcases strong bodies of work by a great selection of international photographers.”

Successful entries are now on show at venues across Derby and Nottingham.

Reflecting the theme of FOREVER//NOW, the exhibitions range from considering the slippage between fact and fiction in our manipulated media world to looking at concerns around identity and gender politics in the #metoo era.

FORMAT19 will also present the 4th Feature Shoot Emerging Photography Awards.

This annual international open call, organised by Alison Zavos, provides winning artists with the opportunity to exhibit in three international group exhibitions in Australia, the USA and the UK.

Four artists and one collective were selected by Louise Fedotov-Clements for the group show at FORMAT19.

They are Camillo Pasquarelli, Sharbendu De, Lucia Sekerková, Synchrodogs and Dylan Hausthor.

Installation shot: Shawn Records


FORMAT19 is on until April 14 at venues across Derby.

In support of the festival’s commitment to bringing photography to a new audience, the programme includes a series of educational programmes and family-friendly events.

In partnership with Redeye, Parc and the Royal Photographic Society, FORMAT19 will present the Pete James Lecture series.

The series is being held in honour of this champion of British photography who died in March 2018.

On Saturday, April 13, London Stereoscopic Company, with photo historian Denis Pellerin, will present the history of stereoscopic photography and 3-D image making.

Directed by Louise Fedotov-Clements, FORMAT is organised by QUAD and the Digital and Material Artistic Research Centre of the University of Derby.

For more information and a full schedule of events and exhibitions visit

Spectrum Photographic is the print partner for FORMAT19 producing a variety of Giclée, C-Type and mounted pieces.

Main image: Installation shot Graeme Oxby

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