This month sees the launch of a new festival devoted to photography and conceived on a vast scale. Director Alasdair Foster talked to Beatrice Colin about the themes to be
found in Fotqfeisx
our cities, over eighty venues . . . bus shelters . . . woodland trails . . . gas showrooms . . . old barns . . .’ Fotofeis director Alasdair Foster sits in his office in Leith. Hanging on the wall beside him is a map of Scotland which literally prickles with coloured pins. From the Borders to Thurso. almost every gallery in Scotland seems to be involved in the largest photographic festival to be held in Britain, if not the world. He has an amazingly steady gaze for a man on the brink of a project which has taken two and a half years to put together and has attracted some of the hottest names in photography.
‘The idea is to embrace as many people as possible. lt’s multi-targeted and doesn‘t require people to cross a gallery threshold. Photography is an egalitarian medium. It has a much wider potential of being employed than almost any other visual art and is a medium of communication which can be used in tandem with other art forms. There are outdoor projections. installations and it’s not all flat pictures behind glass on gallery walls.’
Fotofeis. the sufﬁx derives from the Gaelic. has already been pencilled in as a biennial event. To make the huge amount of work on show this year more digestible. the country has been split up into four areas each with a different theme: Family in Edinburgh and the south east; Views from the Edge in Glasgow and the south west; New Imaging in lnverness and the Highlands: Photography Plus in Aberdeen and the north east
Some of the big names are showing outside the main cities. Owen Logan has a show in St Andrews. David Hockney‘s work can be seen in Kirkcaldy and the Guatemalan artist Luis Gonzalez Palmer has his first European show in Stirling. ‘Fotofeis covers a huge geographical area.‘ Alasdair Foster points out. ‘but the most important thing about it is that it integrates local with international and has four strands. the museum. the gallery. the community and the amateur. We want to look at the way. for example. an international artist addresses the question of family and the way a schoolchild or a community group or a contemporary Scottish artist might do it also.’
With a heady programme of seminars. courses. portfolio viewing and conferences to comp- lement the festival. it promises to be one of the most exciting. stimulating and challenging events for years.
‘I hope it will inspire people to understand that cultural activity is something which should be part of our lives.’ Foster stresses. ‘Either through enjoying it or participating. there are so many levels of involvement. I would hate to see any art form become a luxury rather than a necessity.’ Fotofeis runs from 4 June to 4 July. See Art listings for details ofexhibitimzs.
L--- . . - . - _ --. 10 The List 4~—l7 June l‘)93
John Clarldge: Untitled (detall)
Nuns In Ceremony: Beatriz Gran I