5 Reasons to Attend FOTOFEST2008 in Houston (Mar. 7- Apr. 20, 2008)

fotofest.jpgI’m packing my bags for FOTOFEST2008-CHINA, the Twelfth International Biennial of Photography and Photo-related Art, being held March 7 – April 20, 2008 in Houston, Texas. Since 1986, FotoFest has had a home in Houston, and ten consecutive Biennials have been held every two years since that time. Regardless of when you arrive during the event, there will be an incredible amount of things to see and do.

This year’s primary theme is China, and as stated on FotoFest’s website, “alongside FotoFest’s 10 exhibitions on Photography from China 1934-2008, 19 other spaces are hosting China-related exhibits and events. Eighty other spaces are working with the Biennial’s ancillary theme Transformations. Others are mounting shows independent of the two themes.”

Since this will be my first FotoFest, I asked Vinod Hopson, press coordinator for FotoFest for a “snapshot” of the event, and his quotes comprise each of the 5 Reasons to Attend FotoFest 2008 listed below. Each quote is followed by my comments, with links to additional info:

1. “An opening night party and exhibition that’s free and open to the public.

On Friday, March 7, 2008 from 8PM-midnight, FotoFest will have a party entitled “Photography, Music, Drinks” at FotoFest Headquaters, located at 1113 Vine Street in Houston.

This is the official kick-off to FOTOFEST2008, and will include an opening of the new exhibition: New Photo, 1994-1997 CHINA. The event is sponsored by the Houston Press, KUHF 88.7 FM, 42 Below Vodka and Barefoot Wine.”

(For more info about the party and a calendar of events, visit this page on FotoFest’s official website.)

2. “145 photo exhibits throughout the City at all of Houston’s art museums and 107 other spaces, including 10 FOTOFEST2008 Exhibition Spaces on Photography from China 1934-2008).

A guide to the 145 photo exhibits will be available in printed form at FotoFest’s headquarters, at a number of coffee shops and restaurants across the city, and at all of the participating spaces listed in the FotoFest catalog. In addition to the exhibitions listed in the FotoFest catalog, a number of other spaces throughout the city (including coffee shops and photographers’ studios) will have photo exhibitions.”


(An interactive map and guide page page can be found on this page on FotoFest’s website. It’s a very impressive online guide, with each gallery space numbered, and detail of each space available when you hover over each gallery. A link to a printable map is located at the bottom of each sector of the city where exhibitions are being held. Clicking on that link will bring up information for each gallery.)

3. “The FOTOFEST2008 Fine Print Auction.

The FOTOFEST2008 Fine Print Auction will be held on Tuesday March 11 at the Doubletree Hotel – Houston Downtown. The auction is comprised of 86 prints by a diverse group of artists. It includes work from emerging superstars to internationally known artists from around the globe, and in my opinion, it’s the strongest body of work that we have ever put up for auction. The auction is our major fundraiser for the year, and proceeds from the auction support FotoFest’s year-round programming, as well as the Literacy Through Photography Program (LTP).”

(You can find an online Print Preview of the Fine Print Auction on this page. On that page, you can also download the Auction Catalog and Absentee Bid Form (both in PDF form). I just took a look at the auction catalog, and I think it’s stunning, both in its design and imagery.)

4. “FotoFest Special Events and Workshops.

There are a number of special events and workshops planned for FOTOFEST2008, and they include both free and reservation-only events. Free events open to the public include the FOTOFEST SYMPOSIUM: Chinese Photography in the 20th Century at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston on March 12 and The Hewlett-Packard Print Center at the Doubletree Hotel-Downtown (March 8, 13 and 18, 2008). HP professional inkjet photo printers will be set up outside the Portfolio Review room at the Meeting Place, and on a first come-first serve basis, HP staff will print your photo using HP photo papers and Vivera pigment inks. Both artists and reviewers may participate.

There are also two full-day workshops taking place during FOTOFEST2008 at the DoubleTree Hotel-Downtown entitled Career Builders and Art Makers, and Publishing Photo Books Today. The Career Builders and Art Makers workshop, sponsored by HP, runs from 8:30-4:30PM on March 11, and Publishing Photo Books Today runs from 8:30-5PM on March 16.”

(For a list of Special Events and details for prepping files for the HP Print Center, visit this page. And to read about or register for either of the full-day workshops mentioned above, visit this page.)

5. “It’s a great place for photographers to network and meet other photographers, museum and gallery directors, and collectors.

Even if you are not participating in The Meeting Place at the official headquarters for FotoFest 2006 we invite you to bring your work to the lobby area of the Doubletree Hotel – Houston Downtown throughout the festival. It’s an open space where many people gather to network, show their work to others, and exchange ideas and information.”

(For more information about The Meeting Place, and for directions to the Doubletree Hotel -Houston Downtown visit this page.)

I sincerely thank Vinod Hopson for his contributions to this article, and I’m really looking forward to experiencing FOTOFEST2008. If you are an exhibiting photographer at FOTOFEST2008, feel free to contact me through the contact form on this page to let me know where I can see your work (I plan to be at FotoFest March 7-11). Please type “FotoFest” in the subject line. I will be including a list of exhibitions that I visit here on imagingbuffet.com, and possibly on other websites and/or magazines.

I also recommend checking out the FOTOFEST2008 blog for some “behind the scenes” commentary and imagery.