It was always the stated intention of FotoFocus Director Mary Ellen Goeke — and thus presumed fact — that the photography celebration would be a biennial event. Thus, it would be back in October 2014.
But a couple things had happened since last October’s event that raised some questions. First, there was feedback that last year’s month-long event was too much in too many places, resulting in some activities short of attention and attendance.
Second, the February resignation of James Crump, Cincinnati Art Museum’s photography curator and the indefatigable FotoFocus co-chair, left quite a creative vacuum. He brought to town, under the museum’s aegis, FotoFocus’ two biggest contemporary shows, a Herb Ritts retrospective at CAM and Doug and Mike Starn’s Gravity of Light installation at Mount Adams’ old Holy Cross Church.
But FotoFocus is now ready to make some major announcements about 2014. First and foremost, it has found a replacement for Crump. He is Kevin Moore, a New York-based independent curator who will serve under contract for the next year-and-a-half as artistic director.
He was responsible for Starburst: Color Photography in America 1970-1980, the excellent 2010 exhibit at Cincinnati Art Museum. For FotoFocus14, he will be curating a major show at CAM in tandem with the museum’s yet-to-be-hired next photography curator.
Further, Moore will lead a FotoFocus-sponsored trip from here to Art Basel Miami in December; an invitation to attend went out last week to FotoFocus’ mailing list of some 3,000.
Moore has a group show opening in New York today — Alchemical at Steven Kasher Gallery — that is an indication of his contemporary-photography aesthetic. Mainly including large-scale photographs, it features some names familiar to Cincinnati followers of Crump’s tastes — James Welling and Elena Dorfman.
And the description of it on Kasher’s website gives an indication of Moore’s sensibilities: “Short-circuiting the usual channels of science, technology and expert knowledge, Alchemical looks instead to a cloudburst, an explosion, a strange light, to enact cathartic transformation, viz., the creation of a universal elixir. Viz., a miracle,” it says in part.
Goeke will be there to see it. “I don’t know that this exhibition will be traveling here, but I believe it’s an example of Kevin’s process in working with contemporary photographers and how he thinks,” she says. (He also has another upcoming show in London.)
In other FotoFocus14 developments, Taft Museum of Art — which had one of the more popular shows last year in Star Power: Edward Steichen’s Glamour Photography — has found one for next year. It’s French Twist: Masterworks of French Photography From Atget to Man Ray and covers native and immigrant photographers working in that country from 1910 to 1940.
FotoFocus is also sponsoring an exhibit of concert-related photoy at the Art Academy this September, in connection with the MidPoint Music Festival.
In an attempt to pare down and better capitalize on its activities, FotoFocus14 will concentrate its events and activities on a single five-day span rather than try to fill up a whole month like last year. That doesn’t mean the photo exhibitions will only be up for that short time period, but related events like lectures, visiting photographers, educational workshops, etc., will all occur during that brief span.
“October is the month of photography in Cincinnati, but we’ll be concentrating our program of lectures, roundtable discussions, perhaps presentations and films, from Oct. 8-12,” Goeke says. “It will be similar to a conference in that we will be providing non-stop photography events either at primary venues or we will have a downtown location.”
She has been discussing having the 21c Museum Hotel be FotoFocus’ downtown “event location,” since it, as well as the nearby Weston Gallery and Contemporary Arts Center, have all agreed to have related exhibits.
And, in what could turn out to be one of FotoFocus14’s most intriguing additions, Cincinnati architect Jose Garcia is designing a temporary “art hub” that will have exhibition space and program a documentary about its creation by New York-based, German-born photographer Tobias Hutzler. That will be commissioned by Peanut Butter & Jelly, the public relations firm working with FotoFocus. It will be in Over-the-Rhine — Washington Park is a distinct possibility.
Right now, nonprofits wanting to be part of FotoFocus14 can submit an application before this Oct. 31 seeking funds for everything from gallery construction and receptions to extra staffing and promotion. For FotoFocus12, the maximum amount for any single grant was $15,000. For more info, visit fotofocuscincinnati.org.
CONTACT STEVEN ROSEN: [email protected]