Staged in a spectacular ancient Tuscan town, Cortona On The Move returns with a new focus on the world, its future, and its past
Cortona On The Move returns for the seventh year on 13 July, with exhibitions and site-specific installations on show for 11 weeks until 01 October.
Traditionally taking the idea of a “journey” as its theme (be that a physical trip or a journey of discovery), the festival has now abandoned this metaphor for a new task – reflecting on the past while theorising on the future. “We are taking the motto ‘on the move’ to keep our eyes open and see what’s happening out there,” explained creative director Arianna Rinaldo to BJP, in an interview for our July issue.
“We’re really interested in following up on what’s happening in the photography world, especially documentary, and keep our focus on new languages, on how photography is transforming and keeping up with the times and how our visual language needs to continuously adjust its grammar.”
Interestingly the festival has embraced its world aspect so much that few native photographers have made it into the programme this year. “We work more with international photographers than Italians,” says director Antonio Carloni. “The idea is that Cortona should become a stage of the world. The world is much bigger than Italy so we want to look outside the country. We want to work with documentary photographers who go out to tell stories that bring new visions of reality.”
One of the headline shows is by American photojournalist Donna Ferrato, for example, a three-part exhibition titled American Woman: 40 Years (1970s–2010s). Putting together images from her work on domestic abuse, her personal archive and her swingers series for the first time, Ferrato critiques the social constructs surrounding the female role, and shows how they have changed over the last four decades in the US.
Matt Black’s The Geography of Poverty also considers the United States, travelling 50,000 miles around the nation photographing some of its poorest communities. Donald Weber’s War Sand analyses the traces of war left on the beaches of Normandy after 1944, and includes large-scale views of landscapes and microscopic preoccupations with grains of sand.
Justyna Mielnikiewicz’s project The Meaning of a Nation also addresses the repercussions of conflict, but in the present day. Concentrating on borders and identity in Georgia and Ukraine, she looks at life on the periphery of the Russian sphere, while striving to break away towards Europe and the West. It is a timely work given the 25th anniversary since the fall of the Soviet Union on 26 December 2016.
Other exhibitors include Austrian photographer Klaus Pichler, with Golden Days Before They End documenting the hardcore drinking culture of the last remaining dive bars of Vienna, who also won the annual Happiness On The Move award last year. Miyuki Okuyama, winner of the last edition’s open call photobook award, shows Dear Japanese, which tells the story of displaced relatives of Japanese and Indonesian descent living in the Netherlands.
Daniel Castro Garcia is also showing at Cortona – his series Foreigner: Migration into Europe 2015-2016, which won BJP’s International Photography Award earlier this year. Three more competitions and their winners, run in collaboration with LensCulture, contribute to six open calls that form a significant part of the festival.
The three main festival exhibition sites are the Vecchio Ospedale, an abandoned hospital; the Ex Magazzino delle Carni, a recently restored meat warehouse used by a local butcher’s shop; and the Fortezza Medicea del Girifalco, an impressive hilltop fortress built in the 12th century overlooking the town of Cortona. Other displays can be found on the walls of the small avenues running through the ancient Tuscan town, in a bid to involve the whole community in the summer takeover.
“We want the festival to grow with what the town can offer, so we don’t want to become too big,” says Carloni. “We are trying to mix what we already have in the town with what we bring from the outside to create a magical atmosphere.”