Normally it is I who asks the questions for Yourpictureditor’s blog but today I want to talk about my project — what many friends of mine now call my “fourth child” but actually it’s the fifth!… after my three children and Yourpictureditor. In my head it is entirely the fault of Antonio (Carloni, Director of Cortona on the Move). When we talked together last winter (2016), he transmitted to me a huge passion for his festival with such enthusiasm that I thought I would like to bring in my city the opportunities, the wealth of experience, the love for photography that a festival, as big as Cortona or small as this new one in Lenzburg, means. And so I said to myself, “Why not?”. More or less I’ve made all the important decisions of my life the same way, thinking “why not?”, that is, not weighing all the pros and cons too much.
Lenzburg is a lovely town near Zurich, where people are open and interested in culture; it hosts other festivals and cultural events that are very popular, but there are none dedicated to photography. So I started to weave my canvas, and slowly—passing from meeting to another meeting, a project, a group of interested people, a group of supporters, sponsors, suppliers, etc.—the festival began to take formation. I got to know a lot of people; I walk in my home city and I stop to chat about the festival with new friends and acquaintances every 100 metres! In short, now it’s a machine that completely sucks all my time and thoughts. In 6 weeks we open (and in ten days ends our Open Call “In Change”) and I have never found the time to share this amazing adventure in our blog. I asked Sara Emma, who lovingly takes care of Yourpictureditor’s blog, to think of questions for me and here’s a bit of detail.
What is the theme of this first edition of the Fotofestival Lenzburg and how will you develop it?
We’ve chosen for the festival, which will runs from 27th April to 20th May 2018, the title “In Change”. Change is a current topic. We are in constant evolution, as individuals and as society. The landscape and all our world are constantly changing. I think that photography itself has a special role in capturing this aspect of life: images can open our eyes to what’s happening to our identity and stimulate reflection. This subject is especially true in our home city Lenzburg, where the targeted increase from 8,000 to 12,000 inhabitants in less than five years means that many newcomers will come across older, established citizens. What does that mean for the identity of this place? Can we form a new collective identity through our use of images? From today’s flood of images, the festival picks out facets that revolve around the search for identity in change.
What will be the audience?
The Fotofestival Lenzburg is a participatory project: it is aimed primarily at all the inhabitants of the city, in which we want to arouse interest for photography. For this reason we have developed a festival in public places, completely free of charge. A few months ago we founded the first photography association in the city, with the aim to get together to understand the resources and professionals (photographers, iconographic editors, experts, amateurs) available here. Besides, Lenzburg is located between Zurich, Basel and Bern: it’s a perfect starting point to get in touch with the high-level world of Photography in Switzerland and abroad. We’ll have important guests, like Urs Stahel for an evening about Photography today and tomorrow, or our Jury experts. It will be a reflection on photography as a new language, and an exchange between professionals and amateurs, at the national and international level.
Which will they be the main attraction?
There are many interesting events but the main project are the two open-air exhibitions. Unsere Stadt im Wandel (Our city in transition) is an exhibit with historical pictures of the photographer Armin Nussbaum (1919-2009), which has been in the possession of the Museum Burghalde for a few years but has not yet been accessible to the public. Nussbaum documented the changes in the city for nearly 40 years: we can feel his attachment to this place in the way he transformed the small town in a interesting “big world”. The photos will be exhibited with scaffolding installations along the Bahnhofstrasse, and visitors will be invited to discover places that were strongly influenced by the structural changes and also to listen to the voices of citizens, witnesses of those changes.
The other open-air is even more “open”: the best 30 pictures from our Photo Competition “In change” will be exhibited in the shop windows of the city center, allowing the old streets to become an open-air gallery, where photography, can be experienced on a walk. The open call is until the 23rd March. We are receiving very interesting works, and I’m really excited to see the final result!
The official opening on 27 April 2018 in Lenzburg’s Gemeindesaal will be also a rich event: with the possibility to show our portfolio for the accredited photographers in a private hour before the opening, followed by a talk with many exceptional guests and a final party with music and aperitif. We’ll have also a workshop for children at the same time, at ground floor, so the parents can attend the event, while the children learn to build their own exhibit!
What are the Awards? What about the jury?
There will be two Awards. The international Jury Prize of CHF 1,500 will be awarded by our experts: Antonio Carloni, Director of Festival Cortona on the Move; Simon Tanner, Photographer of the NZZ and president of the vfg (Association of Photographic Professionals); Romano Zerbini, Director of Photobastei; Andreas Geis, Curator of Stapferhaus; Sven Eisenhut, Director of Photo Basel; Sara Guerrini, freelance photo editor and member of Yourpictureditor, and I.
The second Award is the Audience Prize of CHF 1,000: During the exhibition, the public is invited to vote for their favourite picture with an SMS. The presentation of the Audience Award and the Apero-Evenenig, in the Foyer of the Hypothekarbank, will conclude the festival.
What about other events?
We’ve organised also 15 photo-book corners in different public places of the city (I particularly love this side-project!), and conferences. Workshops are also on the agenda. The courses for adults and children were developed in cooperation with the Association Freizeitwerkstatt. For example we will have as teacher Simon Tanner, reporter of the NZZ, an member of the Jury for a workshop about Reportage. The photo festival also refers to the workshops in the current programme of the Stadtmuseum Aarau.
How did you succeed in organising the PhotoFestival Lenzburg?
We were able to catch the attention of the city representatives and institutions, like the Cultural Commission and the Museum Burghalde.
The festival is made possible thanks to the support of SWL Energie AG and Swisslos Canton of Aargau, who are the main sponsors and believed in us when all was only an idea. Further sponsors include Hypothekarbank Lenzburg, Verein Centrum Lenzburg, Obrist Gerüst Lenzburg for the installations in Bahnhofstrasse, Neuzeichen AG, druckmanufaktur.com ag and obviously us, Yourpictureditor.
Important cultural partners are Cortona on the Move, Stadtmuseum Aarau, Stapferhaus Lenzburg, vfg – association of photographers, as well as Stadtbibliothek Lenzburg, Freizeitwerkstatt Lenzburg, and Volkshochschule Lenzburg.
What was your dream job as a child and is it anything close to what you are doing now?
There was a time when I wanted to become a notary because a dear friend of my mother was the most important notary in the city and she was an intelligent, elegant and strong woman. Later I’ve always been attracted by more interesting and artistic things than law & rules. I was left with the idea of becoming a strong woman carrying out responsibilities in many fields, family and work. And I’m taking them! Besides I like my work very much, it allows me freedom and creativity, even if there are still many goals to be achieved.
from 27 April to 20 May 2018
Margherita Guerra, Italian, has been living in Lenzburg since 2013. She has been working in the field of photography for 20 years, studied theology and specialized in multimedia publishing at the Politecnico di Milano and photography at the Italian Institute of Photography. She has worked as a coordinator and photo manager in various publishing houses and photo archives. In 2015 she founded Yourpictureditor, an international network of image editors working in various countries (Switzerland, Italy, the UK, Germany, Hong Kong and China). In 2017 she began planning the Fotofestival Lenzburg, which she manages. She is president of the new association Lenzburg Gesellshaft für Fotografie.