Lodi Ethical Photography Festival just ran back in (24th-27th October 2013). With its 4th edition the Festival undoubtedly confirms its individuality and stands out for the clarity of intentions of its talk about photography.

We take this opportunity to focus on the elements we deem predominant. We want to do so because we believe that the meeting-ground between who produces photography and who witnesses it need be clarified - both in its intentions and proposals.

The Festival originates from the will of focusing on the reports commissioned by NGOs and the interaction between photographers and NGOs. Maintaining a dedicated section for this relation, iIt focalizes on socially-sensitive themes and the exploration of emerging socio-cultural fields.

From this viewpoint we were particularly captivated by of Brent Stirton’s work  “The violation of Eden” and Paolo Marchetti’s  “Fever - The Awakening of European Fascism”.

Stirton's work stands out for the artist’s ability to build up an articulated narrative. It manages to raise questions about the complex relationship between habitat preservation and wildlife, the legitimate needs of local populations and the devastation carried out by men in name of economic lobbies or in connection with cultural differences. 
Marchetti's reportage is presented as a vaste work with solid narrative strength. Starting from the exploration of anger, Marchetti follows the daily life of several fascist, right-winged groups in Europe over the a span of 5 years. He encompasses political analysis with a visual language that’s simultaneously intimate and informative - it creates an empathic relationship with people and it sums up the symbolic and cultural geography of fascist groups.

The Ethical Photography Festival is centered on the photographer and his work - an element we at Phom feel particularly close to. Festival coordinators ask photographers to attend every presentation and activity they make. Removed from banale self-celebrations, this practice means that meetings with photographers offer a taste of discovery towards their methods, ethics and outcomes. The constant and ever-increasing investment on the World Report Award reflects an international dimension this year - both in the number of participants and their places of origin.  

Two more meaningful elements caught our attention for being quite meaningful.

First, the selection of this year’s winners. Being so diversified, it proved that reports are represented by a wide spectrum of styles and approaches today. Torinese Fabio Bucciarelli won the Master Award for his reportage from Aleppo, “Battle to Death”, whereas Liz Hingley was given the Spot Llight Award for  “The Jones Family”,  her intimate report about a family struck by the economic crisis.

Second, the organization crew behind the festival - which was entirely supported by the 20-year-experienced volunteers of Progetto Immagine association. Though often neglected, the organizational matter should and could be more thought-through during festivals.

At Lodi this aspect is part of the lucky alchemy that allows the festival to grow. Being familiar with the meaning of cultural volunteering, we wonder how to enhance the value of this fundamental resource. People putting themselves on the line is one of the ways to produce culture from the bottom. Is this value going to be confined to relationships of mutual satisfaction (e.g. between organizers and audience) or can there be something more?

We think it’s time to get to the core of this question also when it comes to photography.

Marco Benna

The articles here have been translated for free by a native Italian speaker who loves photography and languages. If you come across an unusual expression, or a small error, we ask you to read the passion behind our words and forgive our occasional mistakes. We prefer to risk less than perfect English than limit our blog to Italian readers only.



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