By Willem Thomas
In a time when the term “photography” is more commonly associated with the utter ridiculousness and soft loneliness of social media than it is proper art, and the word “capture” is akin to stampedes of children flinging virtual Pokémon balls in shopping malls, Vancouver’s Capture Photography Festival (now in its fifth iteration) is a welcome reprieve from the madness.
Running from April 1 to 28, Capture is a yearly city-wide festival that shines a light on all things photographic art, with an emphasis on the artists and the message behind the pieces, letting each photographer lead their exhibition under the narrative (if there is one) of their choosing. With the inclusion of works by artists local, national, and international, festival director and curator Meredith Preuss refers to Capture as a “celebration of photography and Vancouver’s history with it.”
While they do create the many public installations and events, and program some of the exhibitions independently, much of the major exhibition work is put on collaboratively with the art galleries and organizations involved. “We really try to pool resources to do things that are bigger than the sum of their parts,” says Preuss. “With this approach we’ve been able to grow and mature a lot faster.” 2017’s take on the not-for-profit festival displays that maturity, with Capture now boasting almost 90 exhibitions and well over 100 events, including workshops, receptions, panel discussions, tours, artist talks, and larger-scale community offerings.
The introduction of the Open Program this year is of note because it allows for Capture to showcase new talent through a platform that may be otherwise inaccessible.
“Ever since Capture started, there’s been a demand for us to create more opportunities for artists who may not have representation, or the means to put on a formal exhibition, but they still want to participate,” says Preuss. “We recognize the importance of having that place in the community and nurturing emerging talent.”
New additions to the festival’s programming include the city’s first-ever Photo Book Fair, roosting over a weekend at the Western Front. And Vancouver, now smitten with public art, will have to share the fun — public art projects can be found in New Westminster and Richmond. Also, an expansion on last year’s billboard project from 10 billboards to 17 will display this year’s Inorganic Seductions pieces.
Rejecting a central festival theme, the Capture team settled on a tag line to reflect the festival’s larger goals: “Evolving Perspectives,” which is as good a commentary as any on the changing ways we digest media and photography.
Capture Photography Festival runs at various locations from April 1 – 28.Capture Photography Festival