Global artists to present at FORMAT Festival conference hosted by University

25 February 2021

Artists from across the world will be speaking at a digital conference hosted by the University of Derby, as part of FORMAT21, the UK’s leading international contemporary festival of photography.

Following on from the experimental research festival conference held at the University of Derby’s Markeaton Street site for FORMAT in 2019, academics Dr Philip Harris and Gemma Marmalade are hosting a new virtual conference for FORMAT21.

Taking place on Friday 12 March, this all-day event will commence this year’s FORMAT Festival calendar, which runs until April 11, 2021.

Taking the lead from the festival theme, a variety of contemporary researchers, photographers and artists will meet virtually to present a dynamic schedule of responses to the notion of ‘control’.

Professor Keith McLay, Pro Vice-Chancellor Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Education, who will be presenting the opening address at the conference, said: “The University of Derby is pleased once again to be a partner of international photography festival, FORMAT, a must-see event that further enriches the city’s diverse arts and cultural offering.
“FORMAT21 will feature more than 160 projects by artists and collectives and is an opportunity to view outstanding and relevant photography. A focus for the University is the FORMAT21 virtual conference, organised and hosted by the University, which will bring together speakers, including University academics, to explore the theme of the festival.”

As well as academics being involved in FORMAT21: Control, six students from the University’s BA (Hons) Photography course have been offered internships as part of FORMAT Festival and will be carrying out a number of roles, gaining real-world experience.  

Director of FORMAT and Artistic Director of QUAD, Louise Fedotov-Clements, said: “Since our inception in 2004 we have worked in partnership with the University of Derby on the biennale and off-year programmes. 

“Each year we support, mentor and select graduates from BA Degree exhibitions for the FORMAT Award, host interns and collaborate with the academic team from DMARC (Digital and Material Artistic Research Centre at the University) on the development of the festival and on the excellent FORMAT Conference.

“FORMAT is absolutely committed to supporting and contributing to the development of formal and informal education in order to offer genuine professional practice opportunities and enhance understandings of the photographic medium and its place in society. Together with the University of Derby, FORMAT has grown to be an engaging, challenging and accessible international celebration of the photographic image in all its forms.”

This year’s conference will feature keynote speakers, special guests, individual presentations, ‘in conversation’ dialogues, and interactive panel discussions.

The keynote speech will be delivered by 2020 Deutsche Börse Photography nominee Clare Strand and the closing address will be given by the University of Derby’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Kathryn Mitchell.

Among the speakers will be renowned American artist James Stanford, who transforms original photographs of Las Vegas mid-century architecture and neon signs into intricate designs.

Skinder Hundal MBE, Director of Arts at the British Council, and Azu Nwagbogu, Founder and Director of African Artists’ Foundation, a non-profit organisation based in Lagos, Nigeria, will conduct a keynote discussion in the afternoon.

During the panel sessions delegates will be able to submit questions via chat and panel hosts will direct them to the speakers.

Organisers of the conference Dr Philip Harris, Programme Leader for Photography, and Gemma Marmalade, Senior Lecturer in Photography, have produced Mythologies, Identities and Territories of Photography: FOREVER//NOW, a collection of previously unpublished essays and presentations from the 2019 Format Festival Conference.

The 2021 conference will take place via Microsoft Teams on Friday 12 March from 9am-5.30pm. Tickets for the digital conference cost £10 and £5 for concessions.

To find out more about the conference, and to book a ticket, visit the FORMAT Festival website.

People enjoying FORMAT19 Conference at the University of Derby
FORMAT19 Conference - Image credit: Abi Wells

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