A chat with Angel L.Gonzalez and Moritz Neumüller

Moritz: You told me that these last two years have been the hardest of your life... what’s so complicated about organising an event like PhotoIreland?

Angel: Yeah, thanks for bringing that up. You know, I am used to working on my own, being self employed for over a decade, but the challenge has been to cope with an extra humongous workload while trying to maintain some sort of personal life. It’s Pretty hard. I missed many parties, birthdays, and trips. However, what I’ve learnt in the last 4 years, the people I’ve met, the places I’ve been to... makes it all worthwhile. Right now, I feel much more calm than in previous years, incredibly happy of what we have achieved, and quite lucky to have met you.

Benjamin Fyglister, EXPAT, 2009.
Published by New Horizon Production, 2011.
Angel: I remember in 2008 arriving at a friend’s party in Zurich and being told by the hostess - ‘oh, you must call my friend Moritz, if you are going ahead with that idea of the festival’ - which she actually did herself right away, giving me the phone to talk to this stranger for the first time. i always wondered, what were you wearing that day? No, seriously, what was your first impression from our conversation on PhotoIreland?

Moritz: Well, as far as I remember, you did not really have much of an idea what you were facing, especially the enormous workload that comes with such an event. That was probably the reason why you actually went ahead with it. And your eagerness to learn and make this happen convinced me immediately. What I have learned, is that nowadays, with the help of the new technologies and collaborative efforts, you can actually make things happen in a way that would have been unthinkable when I started in the curatorial field, some 15 years ago....

Eufalia Cristina Paz de Almeida, The Destiny of a Heart, 2012 
Angel: I thought then and I think now that the festival is a very positive addition to the cultural landscape in Ireland, it had to happen. My vision was clear, I just had to resolve a model that would work in the local context. You know, so many great organisations and individuals working so hard over years to showcase the best in Photography from here and abroad... They had to be celebrated. The festival may very well be the consequence of their own efforts!

Dinu Li, Old Trafford, Manchester, UK,
from the series The Mother of All Journeys, 2006
I had to answer tough questions along the way. Things like ‘why another festival? Why in Ireland?’, ‘why in July?’, and so on. These were critical questions I was ready to answer, having spent a whole year doing research and talking to hundreds of individuals.

Moritz: In 2004, for the first time (and this is not likely to change), Tate Modern had more online visitors than offline, or let’s say, onsite visitors. How can we motivate people to actually come to the exhibitions, talks and events?

Angel: That issue is on the table permanently. I know you have been working very hard in parallel projects like Museum For All (http://museumforall.eu) regarding not explicitly the production of engaging events per se, but those assuming the basic understanding that the audience is wide and varied, with very specific needs, and not attached anymore to time and space constraints. Every channel of communication becomes a specialised tool that must be kept sharp and must evolve. Nothing is fixed and all is in flux. It is a challenge. The answer is incredibly simple: make it worthwhile for your audience.

I love the simplicity of projects like ‘Ask a Curator’ that facilitates a conversation with curators via Twitter once a year, but also ‘to passionate experts on art, history and science and get video answers’ at  http://www.askacurator.com

Angel: Which are the festival highlights, from your curatorial point of view?

David Monahan, Leaving Dublin, 2010
Moritz: Of course, I would recommend a visit to some of the exhibitions dealing with this year’s festival theme, specially the main exhibition, ‘On Migration’. It will run from the 14 to the 22 of July in Moxie Studios, featuring a good selection of young artists from around the globe. The works are presented as photographs, video, work-in-progress books and projections.

A must see: an installation developed in cooperation with five international photography magazines from Central and Eastern Europe, ‘Magazines on the Wall’, showcasing 10 artistic projects on Migration.

Also at Moxie Studios,‘Books on Migration’ consists of 20 photobooks selected by Irene Attinger, the Library Curator at Maison Européenne de la Photographie, in Paris. It is a follow-up on last year’s photobook exhibition by Martin Parr, and works in parallel to the Book & Magazine Fair, to which will be held on the weekend of the 14-15 July in the same space. These are definitely another highlight of the festival!

PhotoIreland Festival Press Materials

Of course there is more (in fact, much much more). For example the exhibition ‘The Other Side of the Soul’, in the Instituto Cervantes, which engages with the African Diaspora to Cuba, and ‘Living - Leaving’, in the National Photographic Archive, which shows the works of David Monahan and Maurice Gunning. They both work, in one or another way, on the - both historic and very much contemporary - phenomenon of the Irish Diaspora.

My personal favourite from the featured exhibition is the one on Evelyn Hofer, in the Gallery of Photography. Brilliant work by a nearly unknown photographer. And then there is Kimura Ihei’s book at the Alliance Française. Let me explain: In the mid-fifties, Kimura made several trips to Europe, providing photographs for Japanese magazines. These photographs were only published in 1974 (the year of his death), and was hardly know outside of Japan. I first saw it at the Arles Festival in 2004, and it was a revelation!

And then, there is the vast OPEN programme. Maybe you want to talk more about this yourself...

Bartosz Nowicki / The Dice Project, October #2, 2010
Angel: Oh, there is so much to see! I’d recommend you to join one of the tours that Jennette Donnelly from ‘Art for Art’s Sake’ has programmed, on the 7th and 21st of July. They are free, though donations are welcome and a great way to show appreciation. She will take you around Dublin City from 12noon to 5pm with an hour break, visiting the shows and meeting the artists. Check online for full details.

Moritz: Ok, Angel, tell me: where do you see PhotoIreland in 5 years?

Angel: Hum, my vision for the future of PhotoIreland, is to further an interdisciplinary approach, working closely with partner organisations towards a more experiential and participatory approach, and not only in Dublin, but nationwide.

Also, I see holidays.

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