For it’s third edition, which took place between 9 – 23 March 2017, FOCUS Photography Festival explored the theme of ‘Memory’.

Photography and Memory have always shared an irreducible bond. The birth of the medium signalled a bold, near magical step, forward in documenting the world around us. The camera became a time machine, promising to capture the past in order to experience it in the present and to help determine how we act in the future. The ability to transcribe the ‘what, where, when’ of events through the rendering of physical reality onto film confirmed photography’s status as the most powerful tool in visualising and recalling what we understand as history.

However, as time goes on, we have learnt that the medium is not, and never was trustworthy. We have begun to question who took the photographs, why and in what way. From wars to anthropological studies to landscapes, photography has been used to construct and shape history, underpinning socio-political narratives and building geographies as well as our very own family stories. The relationship between photography and memory is therefore now and has always been, fluid and dynamic. We use photography and its archives to revisit the past and talk about the present, to challenge what we think we remember, to deconstruct the grand pillars of history and extract new stories from the margins.

Today in the digital world, where phones and sharing platforms have revolutionised the speed at which we transform the present into the past, we must ask whether photography has in fact become memory. As the digital replaces the physical, are our memories under threat of disappearing? Has memory been outsourced? From the public to the personal, the scientific to the emotional, the collective to the individual, artists to historians, FOCUS Photography Festival 2017 invited artists to engage with this question.