Conflict and Regeneration

The FORMAT International Photography Festival was established in 2004, and since its advent, has grown to become one of the UK’s biggest photography events. FORMAT17 is centred around the concept of habitat, with work from more than 200 international artists who document the world around them. With 30 exhibitions from emerging and established figures alike, alongside a photobook market, portfolio reviews and a series of innovative performances, the programme provides a rich cultural experience to visitors.

A range of projects, connected by the central theme, explore everything from landscape, mobility, migration, digitalisation, the concept of home and displacement, conflict and regeneration in a rich tapestry of cultural ideas. Habitat is a poignant theme, in-line with contemporary neglect and shadowed by global warming, an urgent problem from which many modern creators take inspiration. Rapid changes in the landscape, and the forces of industry, technology and climate change pushed the globe into a new cultural geographical era known as the Anthropocene. The term reflects on the concept that human activity is the dominant influence on the wider environment. FORMAT17 takes this current state and investigates its effects and solutions, on both a micro and macro level on a global scale.

Louise Clements, artistic director of the QUAD and FORMAT festivals, notes: “I felt the idea of the Anthropocene would be timely. It’s a concept that’s important not just in art or photography, but more generally in terms of how we start to understand and come to terms with what is important in the world around us and our relation to it”.

Ahead still lies our future is the focal exhibition of the fair. Through encouraging observers to speculate on an imagined future, both personal and collective, it muses on complex environmental issues and a post-Anthropocene world. Pieces include Kenta Cobayashi’s Islands is Islands, an immersive VR installation, alongside a monumental video work from Lida Abdul and a poignant plea for melting glaciers from Ester Vonplon. Another highlight includes the Open Call, in which 50 precisely selected projects are exhibited, with this year’s series investigating everything from stories of migration in the Balkans, the landscapes of the Europeans Space Agency and an examination of unusual bird activity.

FORMAT17 International Photography Festival, Derby, 24 March – 23 April. For an in-depth programme of events, visit:

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1. Sadie Wechsler, Take Off.