It was a huge joy being a member of HelPhoto´s curatorial team and I’m a great fan of the festival´s Open Call concept. As a curator it gives me a unique opportunity to spot amazing artists from all over the world. Going through more than 300 portfolios has reminded me of just how many passionate, talented photographers are out there. The artists that we have chosen for this year’s festival all want to share something important with us. They tell beautiful, sad, weird, touching, sometimes humorous visual stories of what it is like to be in this world. They offer us an opportunity to stop and reflect upon the state of the planet and the state of ourselves. It was a privilege to be part of a team that offers a platform where these amazing photographers can show and share their work. Marianne Ager
I am delighted that Helsinki Photo Festival continues to celebrate excellence in contemporary photography. The Festival’s admirable determination to connect curators, artists and photography enthusiasts in Helsinki despite the current difficulties and restrictions imposed by Covid-19 crisis is truly impressive. I came to the process of selection with the strong belief that the very best photography always has something important to say – no matter how apparently abstract or ‘difficult’ the subject matter. I am pleased to say that I found this quality again and again in the work that I reviewed. I was happy to be able to see great variation of professional and photo enthusiasts’ works alike and discover new talents who I hope to meet in due course. There were some real treats to anticipate here. I look forward to seeing the exhibitions and wish the organisers all the best wishes for their great effort in this challenging time. Fariba Farshad
As a second year jury member I was pleasantly surprised that the level of photos and the series were so much better than last year. I was nearly shocked by the entries from all over the world. (What happened?) I guess the Corona virus played a role in this year’s catch. Maybe so that the photographers sitting at home in front of their computers decided that they would participate this year and really dug into the works they had been occupied with for the last year. Many series were top level and many singular shots rouse to a new exciting height. I could even detect some famous photographers (that I knew) were part of those who submitted their works.
It seems to be a new dawning of documentary stuff that digs deeper into the subjects. On the other hand there were also so called Free Artistic Work presented. If I might wish for something, it would be a more active participation from our Nordic countries. Sometimes it feels that if the venue is close enough the people get easily blind.
I’m happy that the topic this year was interesting enough to produce over all high-standard works. In the future I hope that we have an interesting topic that both serves expressive approach as well as more low voice artistic way of thinking.
I congratulate those who were chosen for the festival and encourage those who were not chosen this year. I’m sure that next year will be your turn. Stefan Bremer
Who could anticipate last year, when we had chosen Trust as a theme for 2020, that this will become a matter of primary importance and relevance. Trusting your government, policy measures, people around you and life in general becomes an undeniably relevant subject to ponder. I was truly surprised by the quality of the submissions, the wide range of subjects these incredible talented artists from all over the world had used to connote the theme. I monitored the submission process from the beginning to the end and could clearly see what a tough call it was for the jury to choose the winners, with so many outstanding talents in this call. And I’m very grateful to each and everyone of you, participants, artists and supporters, for making Helsinki the new photo capital of the north again! Rafael Rybczynski