Channel / 22 Feb 2022

Post-Event Report on Turning Point - Diffusion 2021

The fifth biennial edition of Diffusion was staged at a moment in time when the arts were emerging from the worse effects of the pandemic, and Ffotogallery’s planning needed to factor in contingencies in the event of physical exhibitions and events not being possible. There was an increased emphasis on public realm interventions, particularly in Cardiff and Newport, and fewer physical venues for exhibitions, although many were larger units able to accommodate more artists’ work and participatory workshops and events. We had to be inventive in terms of what work we showed, where, and focus on building new partnerships in different communities. Despite those constraints, we were able to present work by over 60 artists from five continents, addressing well our commitment to diversity, inclusion and development of artists and arts practice in Wales.

For this Diffusion, Ffotogallery partnered with a wide range of local, regional and international partners to jointly devise and deliver a season of exhibitions, festival events and public engagement projects bringing together outstanding contemporary photography and lens-based work from around the world and showcasing exciting new bodies of work developed in Wales. With a locus of activities in Cardiff and Newport, Diffusion touring and outreach activities reached Llanelli, St Davids, and the Vale of Glamorgan. Further afield, we presented Michal Iwanowski’s Go Home Polish at Fotosommer Stuttgart, as part of the Wales in Germany 2021 initiative.

We achieved 49,508 unique visitors to exhibitions and events (and a further 1.9 million engaging with public realm interventions). We delivered 65 workshops and engagement sessions with 4129 participants.

The festival theme was Turning Point - “a time at which a decisive change in a situation

occurs, especially one with beneficial results”. Periods of uncertainty often provide the momentum for positive change. Wellbeing, resilience, access and inclusion, social justice, community cohesion and environmental responsibility were the interweaving strands of the project which guided our partnerships and programming decisions.

As well as exhibitions and events celebrating the power of photography and the digital image to reach and engage diverse audiences, Diffusion showcased the latest applications of immersive digital technologies, and built on collaborative links between Welsh artists, media producers and companies who are working internationally in Europe, the Americas, India, Australia and Africa.

Commissions for Welsh and Wales-based artists John Crerar, Hilary Powell, Janire Najera, Gareth Phillips, Abby Poulson, Rhys Webber, Kamila Jarczak, Antonia Osuji, Fez Miah, Dilip Sinha, Justin Teddy Cliffe, Sarah Goodey and Anna Sellen (the Ink Collective) examined contemporary Welsh identity and experience, and we were able to premiere exciting new work by Joao Saramago and Richard Jones, Black Mantis, Huw Davies and Sebastian Bustamante.

We partnered with the Pharmabees project and Greener Cathays to explore ways of cultivating more biodiversity in urban spaces, with the National Museum and Oriel y Parc in exploring improved marine and land management. We worked closely with Iris and the LGBT+ community in Wales, and with schools, universities, community centres and arts groups in Newport, and Cardiff examining issues of environmental responsibility, diversity and identity.

In line with the above themes, we delivered exciting international collaborations with Chennai Photo Biennale, PAWA254 in Kenya, Fotosommer in Germany, the First Nation Australian artist Tim Georgeson and North American artists Mary Farmilant and Lydia Panas. The More Than a Number exhibition, curated by Ffotogallery’s Creative Producer Cynthia Sitei, featured 12 exceptional photographers from across Africa.

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