We are all photographers

The Founders of the Copenhagen Photo Festival Rasmus Ranum and Julie Klitbo are very exited and proud of the first festivals collaborations, partnerships, exhibitions and events. They claim the festival is not just for people interested in the arts, but there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Julie Klitbo and Rasmus Ranum. Photo by: Søren Solkær Starbird

As owners of the photo agencies SUMO and Blink Production, and having worked with different Danish, as well as, international photographers throughout a couple of years, Rasmus Ranum and Julie Klitbo thought, it would be about time to make a photo festival in Copenhagen. Especially when the interest for photography is increasing and several new photo galleries have ‘popped up’ on the Danish art scene.

“We sat down and talked about the focus on Danish food, design and architecture, but there has not been a lot of attention on the many great Danish photographers. There are Danish photographers, who are exhibiting on major international levels, as well as in Danish galleries, photographers who make really huge campaigns, art photographers, and also commercial photographers. But not many Danes know about these fantastic photographers, so we decided to try and make some noise about it, and about photography in general. We decided to make a photo festival with an international touch. It should not just be a Danish photo festival with Danish artist in order to tell ourselves how wonderful we are, as the international photographers are just as important exhibitors and participants on the festival”, explains Rasmus Ranum about how the idea was conceived for the photo festival.

Julie Klitbo immediately mentions Peter Funch, a featured artist to open the Expo show in Shanghai, as an example of one of the great Danish photographers.

“Peter Funch has made a huge exhibition and lot of projects in connection with the Expo exhibition in Shanghai. He has been working on a story for many years, which is called Babel Tales. It is a collage of pictures he has shot from the same street corner in New York e.g. A specific theme runs through the photos: everybody is wearing red, or everybody is looking up, or is smoking or something else on the pictures. He will present the same for our show here in Copenhagen at the opening exhibition for V1 gallery during the photo festival. And he will also be represented with one of his photos on the Day/Night theme at the festival. His photo will be part of the Day theme, which are photos unfolded in a field between realism and fiction shown all around the public space in Copenhagen during the daytime”, Julie Klitbo elaborates. Among some of the other interesting Danish photographers to be represented during the festival are Jacob Holdt and Nicolai Howalt.

The right time

Both founders of Copenhagen Photo Festival are sure that the timing is perfect for a festival concentrating on photography. “There are a number of new photo galleries in Copenhagen, and several museums are now also exhibiting photography instead of painting”, says Rasmus Ranum. And Julie Klitbo continues:
“Photography is something everybody can relate to, we can all make a snapshot and up-load it onto the Internet. We are all photographers now a days”. In that spirit, the festival is not just for the art enthusiast, as previously mentioned, but will also take place in public spaces, where everyone will be able to enjoy photographic art in places to which they are not accustomed; via commercial bill boards, in the metro and along side building walls. A public website has been constructed and designed where people will be free to up-load their pictures. And a competition is taking place, where everyone is allowed to participate by entering photos of a Day or Night theme.

Art photography vs. commercial photography

Hence, not only are there art photographers who will be represented at the festival, but many of the photographers are working in between the lines of both art and commercial photography. “Peter Funch e.g. has made commercials. The add with all the colored little balls jumping up and down the streets of San Francisco is made by Funch. He is a very good example of the many photographers, who are able to earn a living from both sides; commercial, as well as, art photography. Nicolai Howalt is mainly an art photographer, but he has also shot some commercial photography. The commercial world is of course inspired by the expressions from photography. The commercial world hires these art photographers, and not many art photographers will decline a major offer for a huge commercial campaign”, adds Julie Klitbo.

The festival will also try to discuss these themes about art photography vs. commercial photography. Who decides what is art and what is not? Rasmus Ranum and Julie Klitbo do not have the answer to that question. They have hired curator Charlotte Sprogøe and Jesper Elg from the popular gallery V1 to create and curate the main exhibition, but the founders will not judge. And the galleries and art institutions, which are exhibiting during the festival, have decided their own shows fully for themselves. A conference held at the Copenhagen Art Academy during the festival will furthermore discuss various issues concerning photography such as the difference between documentary and tradition. There will also be a discussion about the type of photography that is considered art.

“Many very different photographers, who works within different genres are represented on the festival, After a talk with the Head of the Royal Danish Art Academy, Mikkel Bogh, we realized that many young artist work with photography as one praxis out of many medias of expression. To the young contemporary artists it is almost bad to be considered a photographer, they see themselves only as artist”, tells Julie Klitbo about the variety of the festival contributors.

Carried by the photo scene

And Rasmus Ranum joins in: “It is the on going photo scene, which carries the festival, and a good example is at Kødbyen, where all the galleries and exhibitions take place. At Nørrebro, a group of people have also made their own little festival within the festival. On Sunday the 23rd of May, there will be various arrangements and events around the photography in this alternative area of Copenhagen. “We are very proud of the fact that so many people want to participate in this major event and make contributions even before it has started. People have been really great at using this open space or vacuum to initiate and start their own things. And we have been so happy about how all our collaborators, the museums, galleries and so on, have welcomed and supported the idea and the festival. Many have had similar ideas before us about a festival, because it has been missing in Copenhagen ”, Julie Klitbo continues. In the future the Copenhagen Photo Festival might join forces with the photo festival taking place in Odense at Fyn. And both founders are very sure that the Copenhagen Photo Festival will return annually. Now that the funding of the festival is made, the partners have been found and the connections have been established. “We are very glad that our main sponsors such as Canon and Politiken have supported us, but it also puts a certain responsibility on our shoulders, because with these great partners we must deliver. The fact that we have these sponsors support the first year, tells us the festival is moving in the right direction”, says Klitbo.

An international event

One of the festivals main goals, as previously mentioned, is to bring attention to the international photo scene and attract internationally known photographers who will participate in the future. “We know that the first year only some international photographers are participating and maybe there will not be so many photo enthusiasts, photography gallery owners from abroad or international museums, that are willing to travel to Copenhagen, but eventually we are sure that the Copenhagen Photo Festival will be a major event for the international photo scene. The international level of the festival this year will only acquire more international photographers, academics, gallery owners and photo enthusiasts. And the international press has already taken an interest” says Rasmus Ranum. “Yes, today the word spreads really quickly through blogs, Facebook and the internet, in general, and attract international artists and guests in that way”, Julie Klitbo ends.