Maria Novo and Laura López are the two initial masterminds behind this newly created event in Porto, Loading Festival, but soon, other people got involved: Joan Deulofeu, Emiliana Larraguibel, Thaylane Cristina, Lorena Varela and Mariana Rocha. The teamwork has resulted in an event that will last until July 29 that focuses on ongoing projects, on creative processes and new ways of production, especially in photography and image making.
So don’t expect to see only exhibitions – which, of course, are part of the program – but instead open your mind to discuss how and when should a project be considered completed, or in what different ways can it be displayed if it’s still not finished. The organizers found there was a gap in other photo festivals throughout Europe, so they decided to fill it while also promoting emerging talent – especially from Portugal and Spain – and having an experimental approach. Today we talk with them to see why are processes so important, the difficulties they’ve faced to put the first edition together, and what are the must-sees.
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First of all, who are the people behind this project? What’s your background?
Maria Novo (Portugal) and Laura López (Spain) met while studying a Master’s degree at Blank Paper, a former school of photography and image in Madrid. They got a first idea and involved Joan Deulofeu (Spain) as a collaborator, Emiliana Larraguibel (Venezuela) as the person in charge of the photo book fair, Thaylane Cristina (Brasil) as the head of the projections night and Lorena Varela (Spain) and Mariana Rocha (Portugal) as communication helpers/assistants. We also want to thank the teacher Susana Lourenço Marques for all the support she’s given us in organizing this festival.
How and why did you decide to start the project? What’s the main goal of Loading Festival?
The first idea was born after Maria, who lives in Porto, realised that photographic movements were on the spot all around Europe but the scene was a little bit stuck in her city. Our main idea was to create a photo book fair, but after discussing it with Fosi Vegue (a Spanish renowned photographer and teacher), it appeared to be just a market, not something really relevant for Porto. When Joan joined the team, we saw a gap in all the events focused on photography in Europe: nobody was taking care of processes and the ways of sharing the different stages of projects. So after thinking of this idea, we thought it was something new and relevant, so we started working on it.
We decided to focus Loading on creative processes, on how all photographers – just like everyone involved in the festival’s organization – create and find ways to express all their ideas through images. It’s not only for photographers, we want to engage everybody working with image making. We don’t care if they are still or motion, if they are chemical or digital, even if they paint or draw images. We are open to all disciplines and to all creative paths.
“Many projects and ideas are constantly ongoing, they are always changing and finding new ways to be displayed, exhibited or communicated. We thought that Loading should be a place to show all those works that aren’t finished.”
As you just said, Loading focuses on the processes and the ongoing projects of artists instead of the final results. And you started with this because of the gap you found uncovered. But are there other reasons why you decided to change the usual paradigm and pay attention to the unfinished rather than the finished?
Our main reason was that everybody involved in the creation of Loading Festival is as well an image maker or a creative related to images. We’re all in the first stages of our career, so we’re interested in how people create and in how do they find new ways of doing so. After this particular reason, this approach on processes makes Loading a unique festival in Europe and we think it is something that can catch the attention of lots of people.
There are other reasons, like answering or giving new possibilities to lots of projects that have no end. Many projects and ideas are constantly ongoing, they are always changing and finding new ways to be displayed, exhibited or communicated. We thought that Loading should be a place to show all those works that aren’t finished and to create new networks that could help creators to improve their projects.
You’re also bridging Spain and Portugal. Why so? Any other reasons behind your own origins/background?
In fact, we realised that we were bridging Spain and Portugal when we started to find the names of the artists participating in the festival. We saw that there was some kind of border between Spain and Portugal’s creative scenes. Despite being neighbours, people in one country don’t know much about what’s going on in the other. And each of them has really different concepts about photography and artistic creation, and the artists’ paths are also different on each country. So we decided to act as a bridge. We try to make Spanish artists better known in Portugal and vice versa.
Actually, Portugal is a trendy country, with Lisbon and Porto acting as the two main cultural centres. What’s your favourite thing about working in Porto and contributing to its expanding cultural scene?
We’re aware of this image that Portugal and its two main cities are so trendy. We’re not trying to avoid it, but it was not our main reason when we chose Porto as our base. The main reason is that Maria was raised and still lives here. Also, Porto is a small city; anybody can walk from one side to the other, so it was easy to connect the different venues of the festival. And we have to say that Porto can be a new, ‘trendy’ city but we’ve come across lots of difficulties to find partnerships and collaborations to finance the festival. It seems that culture is not so valued as people think. We know that we’re very young and that this is the first edition of a strange festival – and it’s no easy to trust these ideas –, but it shouldn’t be so hard.
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Loading presents exhibitions, workshops, presentations, screenings, a photo book fair, etc. I know it’s hard, but could you tell us your three/five favourites? The ones we can’t miss, no excuses allowed?
Obviously, it’s very hard for us to choose. Everything Loading presents is an inherent part of the festival, but there are no excuses to miss the projects that we have in residence: Christian Lagata and Arnau Blanch will be at Espaço Mira for five days developing two really interesting proposals thought specifically for Loading. Also, the presence of the Open Museum, created by the collective Demi Tour de France, is a project that perfectly matches the ideas of Loading. And last but not least, the Projections Night party with Favela Discos on the 28th will be a great opportunity to discover new artists and projects and to have fun with images and their creators – something that we believe is indispensable to think and create better.
This is going to be the first edition, but hopefully, there’ll be more. What are your expectations for the future? How do you face the challenge of this first edition, and do you think you’ll be doing a second one next year?
The first edition is being a challenge. We’re creating something we’ve never worked on before, so we’re having some troubles we never expected. We hope Loading will keep working and hosting more editions that will keep getting better and better. We will try, in the following editions, to find new activities to engage citizens from Porto, not only creators but the entire community as well, to have somehow a social purpose. Also, we’re aware of the lack of female creators in this first edition. This is something to solve and we’re working on it. But always thinking about the main goals of Loading: processes and new ways of creation.
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