FORMAT15: EVIDENCE - 13th March to 12th April 2015: Derby, UK

Format Festival 2015

The search for evidence is central to an understanding of our society and acceptance of its institutions. We use evidence to support, confirm and attest to our ideas, scientific discoveries and forensic investigations. Evidence is the mainstay of how we decide what is and is not true. And since its invention in the 19th century, photography has been crucial to the collection, recording and display of evidence; a silent collaborative partner in our search for traces and proof of something, someone or somewhere existing.   

A world class biennale, celebrating its 10th anniversary, the FORMAT International Photography Festival brings together the best of contemporary photography under the curatorial theme of EVIDENCE. Previous festivals have presented exhibitions on the themes of Factory, Street and Film.   

FORMAT has built up its reputation through the championing of international photography and in particular introducing new talents to the UK. The 2015 festival will continue in this tradition with exhibitions by artists from North America, Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, India, China, South East Asia and Eastern Europe, once again making the historic city of Derby the place to discover new and innovative photography. 

The standard of entries to FORMAT’s Open Submissions Call, was higher than ever before and among the final selection of 76 photographers, chosen by an international panel of photography experts, are works by notable artists including Simon Norfolk, Chris Shaw, Sarah Pickering, Seán Hillen and Lisa Barnard and exciting projects from a new generation of talented photographers, curators and collectives.  
War stories, fairy tales and crime scenes, landscapes, street photography and performative projects will combine to offer a diverse interpretation of the theme of evidence, and reflect the expansion of photography into an interpretative as well as a recording medium.   

The main exhibition at QUAD, co-curated by Louise Clements and Lars Willumeit and entitled Beyond Evidence – An incomplete narrative of photographic truths, takes its cue from the legendary 1977 work Evidence by Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel. Featuring a wide range of work, including photography by Natasha Caruana, Edmund Clark, Mishka Henner and Cristina De Middel, the exhibition explores the relationship between image and knowledge, reminding us that not only does the camera test our ability to trust but also provokes us to ask how we determine beyond a reasonable doubt, what is true.   

At Derby’s Art Gallery and Museum, three exhibitions will examine the role of the archival document. Renhui Zhao’s truth testing project A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World continues his fantastical subversion of scientific photography. Sarah Pickering’s series Art and Antiquities responds to the Metropolitan Police investigation into the art and antique forger, Shaun Greenhalgh, and notions of authenticity in the art world and Nick Sargeant draws from his own childhood memories in the series The Album.  

For budding detectives and forensic investigators the Derby Police Museum is opening its doors to show its amazing archive of mug shots and crime scenes. At the Pickford’s House Museum, Mumbai based curator Anusha Yadav from the Indian Memory Project will show The Photograph is Proof, a historical representation of criminal investigations in India; a rare opportunity to see visual evidence records outside their legal usage.  

FORMAT will once again be partnered by the New Art Exchange in Nottingham, where Christine Eyene has curated the exhibition, Residual: Traces the Black Body, a group show featuring five artists, all of whom examine visual representations of the black body in contemporary society and culture. Also at the New Art Exchange Mahtab Hussein’s new work, The Commonality of Strangers reveals disturbing contemporary accounts of people escaping poverty and persecution, set within the current political climate, in which immigration is a divisive issue. 

The Opening Weekend, 12th – 15th March 2015 will begin on the evening on the 12th March with private views taking place across Derby, followed by three days of keynote talks, artist performances and portfolio reviews.  
FORMAT recognises the wealth of photographic online activity and building on its previous success with MobFORMAT, the 2015 festival will encourage the involvement of amateurs and photography enthusiasts in partnership with The Mobile Photography Network, who will stage a mass participation project using Instagram to create an evolving interactive installation for the duration of the festival.  

Two new digital platforms, developed by FORMAT, will be launched for the festival. FOCUS, designed by Floating Point Digital, is a photographic storytelling site that enables an immersive experience through text, sound, moving and still imagery. The EVIDENCE APP, created by a digital innovation research team and funded by the ERDF Know How programme, is a pioneering interactive guide that brings the technology of gaming to the festival. Designed to enable users to collect clues and interrogate the artworks, visitors to FORMAT will be able to solve mysteries and experience the festival as amateur sleuths.  

WW Winters, one of the world’s oldest photography studios which has been operating in Derby since the 1850’s has recently discovered seven tons of glass plate negatives, bricked up in its basement. Artist in residence Debbie Cooper is restoring and digitising this rare archive of photographic material which will be available to see during an open day at FORMAT15: EVIDENCE.   


“FORMAT is one of the UK’s leading international contemporary festivals of photography”  - BBC

"FORMAT is a significant event in the international calendar” - Brian Griffin

“The FORMAT festival comes as an answer to the need to communicate across cultures” - Joel Meyerowitz

Festival Details: 
13th March – 12th April 2015: Derby, UK 

FORMAT is directed by Louise Clements and organised and hosted by QUAD and the University of Derby

Back to news