The 1st Mediterranean Photography Festival “MEDPHOTO”, under the title “Borders | Crossroads”, took place in Rethymno, Crete in summer 2016. Its’ main theme were the critical issues of immigration, national borders, European identity and social exclusion.
Europe, initially a sub-continent of Eurasia, is built upon a history of separations, inclusions and exclusions. Europe was founded on the fear of the opposite, of the “other”, and with the homogeneity of its people – mainly religious and racial – as its basic measure. Now, being at the core of major socio-economic upheavals, Europe is re-confronted with all that which created her in the first place.
It is precisely this historical condition that Medphoto 2016 examines, through the art of photography, using all its “genres” and creating a unique narrative. A consistent narrative plot runs through all the exhibitions, from the first to the last photograph, composing the individual stories of each artist, in an effort to highlight the complexity of the migration issue and its underlying political implications. This way, Medphoto – the “photographers’ festival” as we like to call it – functioned as a collective DIY experiment, a difficult and precarious endeavor, with a shared vision among the participating artists and curators, the organizing team and our collaborators.
This book brings together texts and images that bear equal weight, regarding crucial social issues of our time and place. In this collection – which we hoped to be more than just an exhibition catalogue- appear texts written by eminent people from the fields of literature, philosophy, journalism, criticism and art.
In retrospection, Medphoto 2016 was, after all, an exercise in redefining the relationship of culture with the institutions, and that of art with society. The location where it was held was a defining element symbolizing the multiple antagonisms and issues at stake: Rethymno Crete is at the Greek periphery; at the southern part of Europe; in the center of the Mediterranean. One of our goals, was the involvement of the local community, the educational benefit for the younger ones, but also the strengthening of the artistic community through awarding a monetary photography prize, the first of its kind in Greece.
After all, art can interact with society and take a stand against its problems: it may constitute a political act, bypassing the mass media and other forms of authoritarian representation.