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Belfast Photo Festival announces its awaited return this year by taking over art galleries and public spaces throughout the Northern Ireland’s capital. Starting on June 3 and extending its activity until the end of the month, the 27-day festival will be hosting timely exhibitions that explore the role of photography in imagining new visions of the future. An international event that takes “Future(s)” as its main theme and proves that there’s always room for adaptation and change, by introducing a vibrant online and offline programme of immersive exhibitions, large scale outdoor artworks, talks and events.

This year, Belfast Photo Festival tackles some of the most relevant and diverse issues of our times, such as climate change, migration, technological development, government surveillance and the power of protest; topics that explore how the future might be shaped, as well as the impact of our actions in the present. Thereby, the festival does not limit its perspective to the representation of a singular vision of how the future could look but offers up a speculative and imaginative glimpse into the endless possible scenarios that await us.

In lights of last year’s events, many of the exhibitions are underpinned by the particular urgency of rethinking our future as they acknowledge how the pandemic has altered the course of humanity, apart from deepening and illuminating our social inequalities. Change making, activism and social justice are featured in this year’s programme; topics that are also spotted in American artist David Alston’s body of work through his images from Black Lives Matter demonstrations.

Renowned artist Zanele Muholi’s first solo exhibition will be taking part in Belfast Photo Festival as well, with a striking outdoors display that explore themes around labour, racism, Eurocentrism and sexual politics. An extensive list of highlights and names compose this year’s organization, to name some, Mandy Barker’s impressive LUNASEA imagines a parallel planet made from plastic waste; Simon Norfolk and Klau Thymann present a tragic and impactful document of global warming; and Swiss artist Marcel Rickli asks how we might warn future generations about sites of toxic nuclear waste. Undeniable, this will be a revealing and fascinating visit to the future.

Romina Román

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