Diffusion Festival Logo Revolution 1-31 May 2017 bullhorn Created with Sketch. Created with Sketch.

Revolution 2017

© Tatiana Vinogradova

Diffusion: Cardiff International Festival of Photography, Ffotogallery’s biennial city-wide celebration of world class photography and contemporary art, returns 1-31 May 2017 with a month long programme of exhibitions, events and activities.

Diffusion 2017 looks at ‘revolution’ in its widest context, investigating moments of social change, movements around freedom of expression, the pursuit of utopias, human rights and identity. Through the prism of photography and lens-based media, the festival will examine dramatic and wide-reaching changes over the last hundred years to the way we live – technological, political, social and cultural.

Diffusion and Ffotogallery’s Director, David Drake, explains why he chose the theme:

“At a time of immense global change, fear and uncertainty, I felt it was important for Diffusion 2017 to look at cultural and societal change more broadly, to explore new ideas and new ways of doing things, especially those which offer a challenge to the established order. To show how risk and experimentation, collaboration and collective action, how speaking up for what one believes in and acting on it, can bring about positive transformation, be a force for good rather than destructive ends”

Highlights include a special State of the Nations commission for Wales by Peter Kennard, without doubt Britain’s most important political artist, and Cat Phillipps, with whom he has been collaborating with since 2003 to make work for the street, gallery, the web, newspapers and magazines, including a large billboard installation for Banksy’s Dismaland.

© kennardphillipps

The exhibition Taking Liberties by John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins captures the vibrancy of the emerging counter-culture in 1960s Britain, expressed through music, protest and art. Included are iconic images of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Allen Ginsburg, William Burroughs and others. The artist documents the historic beat poetry convention at The Albert Hall in 1965, along with CND marches and anti-racist demonstrations illustrating the power of popular protest. 

Diffusion 2017 will also be welcoming to the city Marcelo Brodsky, a leading Argentine artist and human rights activist. In 1968 – the Fire of Ideas Brodsky features archival images of student and worker demonstrations around the world, carefully annotated by hand in order to deconstruct what lay behind worldwide social turbulence in the late 1960s.

Coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, Diffusion 2017 will feature a number of younger Russian artists, including Danila Tkachenko, whose latest project Lost Horizon focuses on the futurist pursuit of space travel by the Soviet Cosmonauts. As part of a LGBT+ exhibition and screening programme delivered in partnership with the Iris Prize, Tatiana Vinogradova’s Days of Melancholy focuses on the life of gay people in Russia. It is a visual tale of melancholy, loneliness and uncertainty about the future in a country where the level of intolerance toward homosexuality has been rising sharply.

Diffusion’s Big Data Revolution strand reflects various trends in technology that offer a new approach to understanding the world and consequently change how we live, work and represent ourselves. Laís Pontes is a London-based Brazilian artist exploring the manifold ways that characters are developed and constructed on social media platforms. To this end, in Born Nowhere the artist uses her own body and life to stage experiments on various social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram and OkCupid.

© Laís Pontes

Another exciting new development for 2017 is the Buzz/Diffusion pop-up venue in the city centre, in partnership with Tramshed Tech. This is a free space for exhibitions, gigs, workshops, talks and events with an emphasis on public participation in DIY culture, self-publishing, digital production and print-based design. The project is linked to Buzz's 25th anniversary and the wider Diffusion strand around independent publishing and cultural activism in a digital age.

Ffotogallery has just embarked on an 18 month partnership programme with Delhi Photo Festival, to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Indian independence, so several exhibitions and artist projects will look at the emergence of modern India post-independence and contemporary Indian culture and experience at home and abroad.

Diffusion will also reflect Wales’ long and rich history of protest and insurrection, from the Merthyr Rising in 1831 to the Miners’ Strike in the 1980s and its legacy, and the more recent cultural revolution focusing on the assertion of Wales’ distinctive identity as a bi-lingual, independent nation. To coincide with the Welsh Government’s Year of Legends, we will highlight various Welsh ‘game-changers’ - key individuals who have had a profound and transformational impact on the wider social and cultural landscape. These will include Nye Bevan (who spearheaded the establishment of the National Health Service, as featured in a new project by artist David Garner), Mary Quant (a key figure in the 1960s who transformed fashion and design), Raymond Williams (writer, cultural theorist), Bertrand Russell (philosopher and peace campaigner) and also Sir Percy Thomas (the modernist architect who designed the British Nylon Spinners Factory in Pontypool, Sully Hospital and St Fagan's Museum, amongst other important buildings).

© Marcelo Brodsky

A special exhibition at the Wales Millennium Centre, Zeitgeist, will feature work submitted in response to Diffusion’s global Open Call. The aim is to capture the spirit of our times, highlight what is really going on, offer new insights and solutions, and challenge the status quo. With our various news feeds latterly dominated by Brexit, Trumpism, climate change, poverty, religious intolerance, the migrant and refugee crisis, border control and gentrification, Zeitgeist will interrogate what this all means for the individual and society moving forward.

In raising important questions about the world we live in today, Diffusion offers a month long programme of exhibitions, interventions, screenings, performances, events and celebrations in both physical and virtual spaces and places. The excitement of directly participating in the festival, and the international reach and visibility of the event, is further enhanced through printed and online publications, websites, mobile content and discussion on social media platforms.

Diffusion: Cardiff International Festival of Photography 2017 launches its new web platform www.diffusionfestival.org on 14 February on which full details of events, exhibitions, workshops, venues, and the featured artists will unfold in the build up to the festival opening on 1 May 2017.