12. September 2006: 9th International Photography Gathering

International Photography Gathering in Aleppo


The 9th International Photography Gathering in Aleppo, Syria


curated by Issa Touma


Le Pont Organization does not only own Le Pont Gallery in Aleppo, a photography gallery, but is the organizing body of several cultural events throughout Syria as well. It does not only organize solo- and group exhibitions in Le Pont Gallery, but also on several other locations in Syria. Le Pont's main activities are the International Photography Gathering and the Women's Art Festival, which both are held annually. This year the 9th edition of the International Photography Gathering will be held, and it promises to be huge, as at least 60 photographers from all around the world will make their contribution. This gathering has been able to extend its fame throughout the world in the last decade, and it hasn't ceased to grow ever since the very beginning. The festival is intended to introduce Syrian people into contemporary photography from all around the world, and to realize cultural exchange between eastern and western cultures. Especially this year this cultural exchange will be a central point in our program, because the theme of this year's event is "Meeting with the Middle East". More than ever before, artists are encouraged to show different views on eastern and western cultures, as to stimulate bilateral understanding and strengthen the relationships between the east and the west. We will show different photographs which will explain the oriental world. In addition, videos will let us understand more about the life in the Middle East. Moreover, lectures will be given and workshops will be held. After the opening of the Festival "Meeting with the Middle East" a conference will be held by different people from around the world, who will discuss their experiences with and the problems of the Middle East.


In order to being able to organize such an immense international event as ours, we have established relationships with numerous countries (about 50 countries) all over the world. We have not only contacted the artists themselves, but also many museums and cultural organizations willing to cooperate with us and thus facilitating the exhibition of foreign artworks in Aleppo. We have not only established contacts with foreign countries, but we have also received a lot of support from foreign embassies and cultural organizations established in Syria. They have supported us financially, mainly to bring foreign pictures and artists to Aleppo.


Our events have caught a lot of attention from the international press. For this year's festival, already two journalists, one from Spain and one from Germany, have shown interest in the festival and they would like to make a topic of it. Also, journalists from New York, Washington, the UK and Switzerland have informed us that they will come to Aleppo to write an article on the festival. Moreover, a Dutch magazine is preparing an article about the activities of Le Pont Organization in general. Particularly the last two years, when the festival faced a lot of problems and controversy from the Syrian government, a lot of articles were published on the International Photography Gathering and on the attempts of the director to fight the Syrian regime. For this reason our new festival will catch a lot of media attention as well, because we are preparing a huge festival to come back bigger than ever before.Although we haven't organized the Photography Gathering last year, the gathering of two years ago was a huge success. As is every year the case, we have printed a catalogue on this festival, including all the participating artists and information about themselves and their work. The artists are listed by country, because we aim at a participation of artists from as many nationalities as possible, as to realize cultural exchange as effective as possible.


The 9th International Photography Gathering, which is the official name of our event, will be held in Aleppo from September 15th until September 26th. Most probably, the festival will take place at several locations, because of the big collection of art works and the many performances, lectures and workshops that will be given. The central location will be the gallery, which during the festival will continue to be the meeting point for artists. We are still looking for the best locations, but most probably we will exhibit the works in the former church the Shibani Building and the old Electricity Building. On September 15th, the event will be opened officially, and afterwards the festival is open to visitors from all around the world. In the past years, a lot of officials were attending the opening and visiting the festival. We have not only welcomed ambassadors, governors and artists from all art domains, but also highly placed people from churches and sheikhs.


The artists who will take part in the upcoming event, are too numerous to name them all, but these artists come from the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Sweden, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Finland, the Canary Islands, Nigeria, Lebanon, Morocco, Egypt and Iran. Le Pont Organization supplies them with payment for the expenses made for the transport and the framing of the works and with three nights of accommodation in a four-star-hotel in Aleppo. Although they have to finance their travel themselves, we are always searching for ways to fund their travel as well. With the support of many embassies, art foundations and cultural organizations we have always been able to pay a lot of the travel's expenses as well.


The artists whom I choose for the festival, are photographers who have made good pictures. We always try to encourage young photographers, so we try every year to exhibit pictures of young artists in the festival, even though they don't have an impressive CV yet. We like to give them a chance to build up a name in the artists' world. The most important criteria for their pictures is their value in relation to social engagement and cultural exchange. In our opinion, it is very important that art works contribute to realizing cultural exchange and increasing cultural understanding between different cultures. The theme of this year's festival is, as mentioned before, "Meeting with the Middle East". In order to being able to sketch a picture on the east and the west as well as possible, we have opted for a participation of artists of many different nationalities. Since there will not only pictures being shown in the festival, but also discussions being held and experiences being exchanged, we are convinced that as many countries as possible should be represented.


Program upcoming exhibitions


21 September 25 September

Ruchama Noorda, The Netherlands

Bronwen Casson, Ireland


26 September 2 October

Esther Azpeitia, Gran Canaria

Charbel Torbey, Lebanon

Frank Rodick, USA

Jane Fulton Alt, USA

Ronnie Close, Ireland


3 October 6 October

Tina Sejbjerg, The Netherlands

Claudio Gobbi, Italy

Alexandra Vogt, Germany

Lalla Essaydi, USA


7 October 10 October

Rania Matar, Lebanon

Melanie Bonajo, The Netherlands

Thomas Kellner, Germany

Gilles Perrin, France


11 October 14 October

Andrew Esiebo, Nigeria

Fredrik Marsh, USA

Ardine Nelson, USA

Johannes Hepp, Germany


15 October 18 October

Collection KIT-museum, The Netherlands, + Mecca pilgrimage video

Tony O'Brien, USA

Wolfgang Müller, Germany


19 October 22 October

Ploutarcos Haloftis, Greece

Elaine Duigenan, United Kingdom

Dominique Bollinger, France

Frank Rothe, Germany


23 October 26 October

Peikwen Cheng, China

Wolfgang Zurborn, Germany

Blake Fitch, USA

Flore-Aël Surun, France


27 October 30 October

Luis Delgado, Mexico

Fassih Keiso, Syria

Roberto Guidotti, Argentina


31 October 3 November

Harry Thuillier, show with video on his life

Peter Riesett, USA

Nadim Bou Habib, Lebanon


4 November 7 November

Simon Denison, United Kingdom

Hermann Huber, Austria

Lisa Robinson, USA

Andréa Sparrow, USA