FotoWeek DC 2009: What to See

FotoWeek Projections by coolmarie

Before last year there was a huge void in DC’s photography world.  Despite being the home of National Geographic, the Newseum, the Washington Post, and many award winning photographers, we were missing an event to bring everyone together, to celebrate photography.  Sure, some of the galleries in town would have a photography exhibit or two, Magnum and Pulitzer Prize winning photographers would occasionally talk about their work, and local photographers would dork out hold meetups and go on photowalks throughout the year.  What we needed though was something big and annual like other major cities have.  Something pros, amateurs, and students could all participate in.  Basically we needed a big photography party.  Hell, if our neighbors in little ol’ Charlottesville could put together an international photography festival, why couldn’t DC?  In came FotoWeek DC.

But what exactly is FotoWeek you ask?  That is a very good question.  In fact if you asked ten different people you would probably get ten different answers.  Is it a contest?  Yes.  Is it a city wide festival celebrating photography?  Yes.  Does it celebrate only photography?  No, in fact two of this year’s contest categories were called “Storytelling” and “Experimental” that included works in multimedia, video, sound and graphics.  Why does FotoWeek spell the word “photo” with an F?  Your guess is as good as mine, my friend.  Why is FotoWeek held in November rather than in a pleasant time of year, say in June?  Because you must suffer for photography.

As the saying goes, sometimes you have to be careful what you ask for.  Remember that big photography party we all wanted?  Well we got one alright, and it’s a little too big.  In only its second year, FotoWeek DC is trying to be something for everyone, and in doing so it can be a little confusing, like one of those SAT questions about two trains heading in opposite directions.  The FotoWeek website is confusing, the steady trickle of miscellaneous e-mails seem like they’re being sent from different people with different stories to tell, and no matter how much you may want to go to every single FotoWeek event, you just can’t.  Cannot.  So I thought I would give you a list of what I think you should go see, some of the highlights if you will.  And if you think I missed something, leave it in the comments.

FotoWeek DC
November 7-14, 2009

Friday, November 6th:

· FotoWeek DC Launch Party – Tonight!

Every big event needs a launch party, right?  Aside from having to pay $15 for a ticket, this is pretty much a no brainer.  Drink cocktails and eat hors d’oeuvres with fellow photographers and festival founders at FotoWeek Central in Georgetown.  This is also a perfect chance to see all of the exhibits going on over there and to view the contest finalists’ work.  If you’re like me you’ll be going back to the Georgetown exhibits later in the week when it’s a bit more quiet, but I’m looking forward to seeing friends and introducing myself to Theo Adamstein for the 17th time.  One day, one day…he’ll remember who I am.

When: Tonight!  6:30PM until “late”
Where: FotoWeek Central, M Street NW between 33rd & 34th Streets NW
Website: Buy your ticket here

· The Real Story of the Superheroes – Tonight!

If crowds aren’t your thing and you’ve always thought of yourself as a superhero, this exhibit should be high on your list.

This exhibition introduces the Mexican immigrant in New York City in a satirical documentary style featuring ordinary men and women in their work environments donning superhero garb. In doing so, Pinzón raises questions of both our definition of American heroism and the ignorance of and indifference to the workforce that fuels our ever-consuming economy.

When: Tonight! 6-8:00PM
Where: The Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery at Smith Farm Center (1632 U St NW)

Saturday, November 7th:

· Fixation

If last year was any indication then this will surely be one of the highlights of FotoWeek.  Fixation combines awesome, affordable photography, performances by local DJ’s and bands (Suspicious Package!), and best of all cheap beer.  Just a heads up that this year it is being held at the new Industry Gallery (above Conner Contemporary), just a couple of blocks away from the Rock and Roll Hotel.  The photographers chosen for this year’s show are Nicole Aguirre, Karon Flage, Angela Kleis, Drew McDermott, Amit Mehta, Pat Padua, Jay Westcott, Aziz Yazdani, and Joshua Yospyn. As an added bonus you can have your portrait taken by Ten Miles Square photographer Tracy Clayton in front of a specially commissioned backdrop created by fab artist Cory Oberndorfer.

The bottom line is this: when the Pink Line Project and Ten Miles Square combine their efforts, great things happen.  You don’t want to miss this!

When: Saturday, November 7th, 6-10pm ($10 suggested donation)
Where: 1358 Florida Ave NE (above Conner Contemporary)
Facebook: Details here
Website: &

· David Alan Harvey Presents…

While Fixation might not be at Fight Club this year, never fear, for skater/photographer/curator Anthony Smallwood has put together an amazing show at the famous skate club that hates being famous.  Magnum photographer and BURN Magazine founder David Alan Harvey headlines the show along with Michael Loyd Young, Chris Bickford, A.J. Wilhelm, and selected photographs from BURN Magazine.  When you combine award winning photography with the raw energy pumping through Fight Club, you’re in for a rare treat.  When things wrap up at Fixation, this is your logical next step.  This will no doubt carry into the wee hours of the morning!

When: Saturday, November 7th, 7PM-1AM
Where: Fight Club, 1250 9th St NW

· NightVisions

Bring your cameras with you Saturday night!  Duh, this is a photography festival.  I’ll let the FotoWeek website explain this one:

Join fellow photographers in an all night spontaneous adrenaline caffeine induced creation of images. The premise is simple. Create a photographic image between the hours of 6:00pm, Saturday, November 7th and 6:00am, Sunday, November 8th. Where: anywhere your imagination dictates. Anything Goes: Street scenes, studio, any venue, any subject or concept. How: Photographers should shoot digitally and personally deliver the photos to FotoweekDC Central 1 at 3338 M Street NW in Georgetown. Computers will be provided for photographers to download, rough edit and submit 1 to 30 images. Lightroom and Bridge will be available. Next: Nationally recognized photo editors will be on hand all night to choose one image from each photographer. The editing process will be projected for all to see. The selected image will be immediately printed, size 11X14, identified with the photographer’s name, and hung. Hand written signature and captioning encouraged. All submitted images will be continuously projected. The show will be open to the public during Fotoweek.


Sunday, November 8th:

· What Lies Beneath: Nature & Urban Landscape in EU Photography

This show at the House of Sweden features work by 20 renowned European fine art photographers and “features exciting and challenging new work in landscape photography”.  If you hate the “artwork” for sale at Ikea as much as I do, you’re bound to love the work on display here.

When: Saturday & Sunday (11/7-11/8), 11AM-4PM
Where: House of Sveden, yah? (2900 K St NW)

Wednesday, November 11:

There are two great lectures happening Wednesday night but unfortunately they’re happening at the exact same time.  One costs $15-20 and the other is free if that helps you make a decision.

· Lecture – Edward Burtynsky and the Industrial Sublime

If you haven’t heard Burtynsky talk about his work or seen his Oil exhibit on display at the Corcoran, I highly recommend going to this lecture.

When: Wednesday, November 11th, 7PM ($15 for Corcoran Members, $20 for the public)
Where: Corcoran Gallery of Art, Frances and Armand Hammer Auditorium (500 17th St NW)

· Lecture – Alexander Vasiljev – Photography in the Rainforest

If you’d rather go the free and furry route, head over to the Watergate Gallery to hear Ukrainian photographer Alexander Vasiljev speak about his show on display titled Naked Fools & Wild Fur.  Surely one of these photos will pique your interest.

When: Wednesday, November 11th, 7PM (free)
Where: Watergate Gallery (2552 Virginia Ave NW)

Thursday, November 12:

· Portraiture 2.0

If oddball portraiture is your bag (I personally know nothing about it) you won’t want to miss this show.

…curated by Michael Pollack, is part of FOTOWEEK DC, and is an unconventional examination of the conventional portrait, by some of the most sought after contemporary artists. Artists on exhibit include Sheila and Nicholas Pye, Chan Chao, Victoria F. Gaitán, Matt Dunn, Josh Yospyn, and Paul Vinet.

When: Thursday, November 12th, 6:30-8:30PM
Where: 8230 Georgia Ave, Silver Spring, MD  20910
Facebook: Details here

· Joshua Cogan – Soundprints vol. 1

One of my favorite FotoWeek shows from last year was Joshua Cogan’s Soul Cages.  Now he’s gone and won himself an Emmy and is showing a series of music related photographs.  This opening is free but you must RSVP, and based on last year’s reception it will be well worth it.

Long fascinated with catching both the energy of music and the feelings that it evokes, Cogan’s imagery ranges from roots music and rock music to hip hop and hoedowns. His images capture the rhythmic sounds from the historic drum circle held at Meridian Hill Park to the slums of Jamaica, from DC musicians on the rise to local performances by icons like Jay-Z. Live, soulful tunes will be provided by DC’s very own Fatback DJs.

When: Thursday, November 12th, 7PM
Where: Sixth & I Historic Synagogue (600 I Street NW)
Facebook: Details here

Friday, November 13th:

· The Opening Reception for Terri Weifenbach @ Civilian Art Projects

One of my favorite galleries in DC has managed to stay afloat during these tough economic times while others have unfortunately gone out of business.  In the process, Civilian Art Projects has moved to a new location in the Warehouse Arts Complex at 1019 7th St NW.  This is the first show at their new space which I’m dying to see.  To quote from the show’s press release:

For over two decades, Terri Weifenbach has enjoyed an admired, international career as a fine art photographer. She has published nine books of photography and exhibited widely in Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States. Woods, her first solo exhibition in seven years in Washington, is a new series of photographs taken within the woods of the DC metro area. “Attracted by line, mass, and sheer density of information, I went to the woods. Attracted to the idea of making that information dynamically equal through the flattened plane of the photograph, I stood inside those woods and recorded,” says Weifenbach.

When: Friday, November 13, 7-9pm
Where: 1019 7th St NW
Facebook: Details here

Night Galleries:

There are several night galleries going on around town (i.e. giant slide shows projected onto the side of a building).

· Night Gallery DC

When: Monday – Friday, 11AM-7PM; Saturday-Sunday, 10AM-8PM
Where: 3338 M St NW

· Crystal City Night Gallery

When: Sunday – Tuesday, 5:30-10:30PM
Where: 2250 Cyrstal Drive, Arlington, VA  22202

· Rosslyn Night Gallery

When: Friday – Monday, 6-11:00PM
Where: 1200 block of Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA  22209

Where to Drink!

· Local 16

All week long (11/7 – 11/14) starting at 5PM, Local 16 will play host to FotoWeek’s “Late Night”.

Mingle with photographers, exhibitors, supporters, and friends for a nightcap every evening during the festival. Watch projections and video shows highlighting the exhibitions and view the FotoWeek DC/ASMP Poster Exhibition while sipping on delicious cocktail specials all week long!

Hailing from the Mile High City, Max has also lived in Tinsel Town, the Emerald City, as well as the City of Brotherly Love. Now a District resident, he likes to write about cool photos by local photographers, the DC restaurant and bar scene, or anything else that pops into his mind.

3 thoughts on “FotoWeek DC 2009: What to See

  1. Thank you so much for putting this together. The Fotoweek DC website is so unorganized, there is so much going on and the information is really hard to digest.

  2. Pingback: Weekend Flashback: 11/6 – 11/8/2009 » We Love DC