This website brings together edited interviews with photographers and photo-festival directors around the world. Undertaken by Alasdair Foster, these interviews were originally commissioned by PhotoWorld magazine for publication in the Chinese language. This is the first time they have been made available in English.
Currently spanning more than seven years, one interview from the archive will be published every week or so until the cycle catches up with the monthly publication in Chinese. The interviews are made available free of charge and free of advertising. The copyright in the images remains with the individual photographers and any use must first be agreed in writing by the photographer concerned. If you are interested in republishing any of these interviews – especially if this is in a language other than Chinese or English – please send details to Alasdair Foster through the contact page.
How it began…
In September 2012, I was in Pingyao for the photographic festival. While I was there I was interviewed for a podcast about the exhibition I was presenting, which featured the work of three Mexican artists. The podcast was for PhotoWorld, a print and web-based art-photography magazine. As we talked, the conversation branched out into a more general discussion about photography and, on the basis of that exchange, the interviewer invited me to write a series of articles about Australian photography for the magazine. I agreed and, since January 2013, I have been publishing one interview a month in PhotoWorld.
As 2013 drew to a close, the editor asked if I would continue with the interviews but widen the field internationally. So, in 2014, I focused on Latin America; in 2015 all the interviews were with women; in 2017 the concept was staged photography; in 2018 the theme was work that explored notions of the domestic and, in 2019, photographic artists with their own particular ‘way of seeing’. Looking forward to 2020, I have begun a series on compassion in photography: images that communicate compassion, and creative practices that are in themselves actively compassionate.
In 2016, the interviews were with the directors of twelve international photography festivals, each set within their own cultural context and with their own scale, ethos and audience. I hope that, as this collection of interviews grows, I will be able to include these interviews within the mix.
PhotoWorld is China’s premier art-photography magazine. Founded in the early 1980s, it now has a print circulation in excess of 220,000 copies per monthly issue and the official micro-blog has more than 3.4 million followers.
My sincere thanks to all those who agreed to be interviewed for the original series and for agreeing to be part of this project to publish the conversations in English, along with their inspiring images. It is their imagination, hard work and generosity that has made this web project possible.
About Alasdair Foster
Alasdair Foster is a writer, researcher and award-winning curator who works worldwide, especially in Asia and Latin America. He is currently Professor of Culture in Community Wellbeing in the School of Public Health at the University of Queensland, exploring practical ways to improve human wellbeing and recovery at the nexus of the arts, humanities and medical–health sciences through cross-disciplinary research and collaboration. He is also Adjunct Professor in the School of Art of RMIT University, Melbourne, a member of the university’s Contemporary Art & Social Transformation research group, and Ambassador to the Asia-Pacific PhotoForum – a group of festivals in Asia, Oceania and the west coast of the Americas
Alasdair has a BSc in physics (University of Edinburgh), and a PhD in participatory culture and the democratisation of twenty-first-century arts policy (Monash University, Melbourne). He has twenty years’ experience heading national arts institutions in Europe and Australia and over 35 years of working in the public cultural sector. He was the founding director of Fotofeis, the award-winning international biennale of photo-based art in Scotland, the largest photo-art event in Europe in the 1990s. From 1998 to 2011, he was director of the Australian Centre for Photography, greatly extending its international profile, increasing six-fold participation in its learning programs and developing innovative approaches to community engagement. He was also managing editor of Photofile, which at the time was Australia’s leading art photography magazine (1998–2009), and president of the Contemporary Art Organisations of Australia (2002–06). A polymath, he has worked as an artist, curator, writer, editor, researcher, policy advisor and commercial photographer, integrating each experience into an expansive world view.