FOTOFEST 2012 BIENNIAL FotoFest Biennial Recap
The FotoFest 2012 Biennial
March 16 - April 29, 2012, Houston,  Texas

The FotoFest 2012 Biennial Contemporary Russian Photography: 1950s-2012, celebrated its opening March 16, 2012 in Houston, Texas with record attendance and acclaim from local and international audiences.

For its Fourteenth International Biennial, FotoFest programming included three main exhibitions on modern and contemporary Russian photography over the last five decades, from the post-Stalinist period of the 1950s to the present day, as well as events, workshops, forums on contemporary curating, the world’s largest portfolio review for artists, an International Fine Print Auction, book signings, film screenings, and satellite exhibitions at participating spaces throughout Houston.

 More than 4,000 visitors attended the 2012 Grand Opening Night at FotoFest headquarters and gallery. Guests included 34 Russian artists and 60 Russian dignitaries who traveled to Houston for the exhibitions and events. Representatives from the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, The Iris Art Foundation, Stella Art Foundation, ROSIZO, Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography,, art collectors, and press were in attendance from Moscow and St. Peteresburg. Early estimates for  overall attendance at all venues over the six weeks of the Biennial is estimated at over 265,000 visitors.

FotoFest’s celebrated International Fine Print Auction took place on Tuesday, March 20, 2012, presenting vintage and contemporary prints from the U.S., Latin America, Asia and Europe – including 30 leading Russian artists from the 1960s to the present. Madeline Brophy of Heritage Auctions led the auction, which sold the entire lot of 82 works. The auction’s total earnings of $366,500 were a 10% increase from the last auction in 2010. Four hundred people attended the FotoFest Auction, including collectors from Moscow, Houston, New York, London, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, and Beijing, among other locations.

The Meeting Place Portfolio Review, one of the most popular events of the Biennial, took place from March 16 – April 3, 2012 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Houston Downtown. The Portfolio Review brought together over 500 artists from 34 countries and 37 U.S. states, and over 160 reviewers from 24 countries and 21 U.S. states.

Reviewers included leading curators of photographic art, gallery directors, publishers and collectors from around the world. Ten scholarship recipients also participated, including individuals from Argentina, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Korea, Mexico, Russia, Ukraine, and the United States. The Student Observation Program also offered an opportunity for 90 art students from 11 universities in Texas and across the U.S. to participate.

The two-volume FotoFest 2012 Biennial Catalogue is sold out. A hardcover book of the Russian exhibitions is being planned for Summer/Fall 2012 with Schilt Publishing of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. For information on the hardcover book, email or visit

FOTOFEST 2012 BIENNIAL EXHIBITIONSThree main exhibitions, created for the FotoFest’s 2012 Biennial, Contemporary Russian Photography: 1950s-2012, presented three periods of Russian modern and contemporary photography:

After Stalin, “The Thaw”, The Re-emergence of the Personal Voice (mid 1950s-1970s)

Perestroika, Liberalization and Experimentation (mid 1980s-2010)

The Young Generation (2007-2012)

The exhibitions include over 1,000 works by 147 artists from Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine. Many of the works, including those on loan from private collections and the archives of the artists themselves, were exhibited for the first time outside of Russia.

An international team of curators from Russia and the United States organized the three main Biennial exhibitions. The Russian curators were Evgeny Berezner, head of the “In Support of Photography in Russia” Project, The Iris Art Foundation, Moscow; Irina Chmyreva, Senior Researcher at the Russian Academy of Fine Arts; and Natalia Tarasova, a writer and cultural affairs consultant for the “In Support of Photography in Russia” Project. The Russian curators were joined by Wendy Watriss, Senior Curator and Artistic Director of FotoFest.

The FotoFest 2012 Russian exhibitions are expected to be presented in Moscow following Houston, and then organized for travel in Europe and the United States.

In conjunction with the Meeting Place, FotoFest presented a fourth, non-Russian exhibition, the Discoveries of the Meeting PlaceThe Discoveries exhibition presented the work of ten artists chosen by ten reviewer/curators from the 2010 Meeting Place. Like FotoFest’s Exhibitions and the Meeting Place itself, the Discoveries shows often travel beyond Houston and have been a launching pad for many photographic careers. 

Concurrent with FotoFest’s own exhibitions, 122 independent Participating Spaces, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Menil Collection, and the city’s major commercial art galleries, are participating in the 2012 Biennial by mounting exhibitions of photography. 

©2012 FotoFest | 1113 Vine Street, Suite 101, Houston, Texas USA | 713.223.5522 |
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