Biennials & festivals

FotoFocus’s photography biennial returns to Cincinnati in 2022 with focus on climate change

FotoFocus’s photography biennial returns to Cincinnati in 2022 with focus on climate change

Containment (2018), a site-specific installation created as a part of the FotoFocus Biennial 2018 exhibition Chris Engman: Prospect and Refuge at the Alice F. and Harris K. Weston Art Gallery Photo: Tony Walsh

The Cincinnati-based arts nonprofit FotoFocus will tackle the changing global environment in its 2022 Biennial, organised under the theme World Record. The title has a dual meaning, says Kevin Moore, FotoFocus’s artistic director and curator, with its allusions to documentation as well as the idea of breaking records, something that has taken on dangerous connotations in the era of climate change, when temperatures are reaching new all-time highs and once-in-a-lifetime weather disasters become all too common.

And while the 2020 edition was greatly scaled back due to the coronavirus pandemic, with FotoFocus instead reallocating $800,000 from its budget to help local art communities, next year’s biennial will be spread out across museums, galleries, universities and public spaces throughout greater Cincinnati, northern Kentucky,​ ​Dayton,​ and​ Columbus, Ohio. Some projects, including solo-exhibitions and public commissions by Tony Oursler, Ian Strange, and Liz Roberts, that were originally slated for last year’s biennial will be shown in the 2022 edition instead.

“When the time came to discuss 2022, we were thrilled those artists were still on board and open to adapting their exhibitions for our new World Record theme,” says FotoFocus executive director Mary Ellen Goeke. Goeke also notes that the events of the past year led the organisation to develop a more substantial online presence and broaden their audience, something they hope to carry with them into the 2022 biennial and beyond. “The past year has given us time to improve our website, start a blog, and increase our virtual programming—all of which will play a part in the 2022 Biennial,” she says. “Previously, programming had only been available in-person but now we have the ability to reach a global audience.” Eligible venues are able to apply for participation in hosting a biennial event here.