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What is PHotoESPAÑA

PHotoESPAÑA was born in 1998 with the intention of developing a festival rooted in society. Supported by the Fundación Contemporánea and organised by La Fábrica, PHotoESPAÑA has put Madrid and Spain at the centre of the world of photography with a yearly meeting of the highest order. From that 16th day of June in 1998 to date thousands of photographers, creators, artists, curators, museum directors, editors, heads of foundations, companies sensitive to culture, journalists, cultural managers, laboratories, photography schools, volunteers, politicians and, naturally, spectators have set the foundations for a modern festival, open to new audiences, rigorous in its approach, ambitious in its objectives, and capable of covering as ample a spectrum of interests as might prove necessary.

Since its inception PHotoEspa a has had a decidedly international vision. As well as on strictly local values, PHE has focused both on grand concepts and vast artistic territories: Europe, North America, Latin America, the Far East. This vision has been upheld and developed by the curators and directors that every three years have been put in charge of the programme.

This is one of the most distinctive characteristics of the festival, which clearly distinguishes it from all other international photography festivals: every three years a chief curator has taken charge of the festival’s programme. Enough time to develop theories and concepts, distanced from favouritism, that revolve around photography and that prove that the festival is capable of reinventing itself periodically.

PHE98. Expediciones interiores [Internal voyages]. Chief curator: Alejandro Castellote
PHE99. Sangre caliente [Warm blood]. Chief curator: Alejandro Castellote
PHE00. Fronteras [Borders]. Chief curator: Alejandro Castellote
PHE01. Desde el Sur [From the South]. Chief curator: Oliva María Rubio
PHE02. Femeninos [Feminine]. Chief curator: Oliva María Rubio
PHE03. Nosotros. Identidad y alteridad [Us. Identity and otherness]. Chief curator:
Oliva María Rubio
PHE04. Historias [Histories]. Chief curator: Horacio Fernández
PHE05. Ciudad [City]. Chief curator: Horacio Fernández
PHE06. Naturaleza [Nature]. Chief curator: Horacio Fernández
PHE07. 10 años [10 years]. Collective curatorship
PHE08. Lugar [Place]. Chief curator: Sergio Mah
PHE09. Lo cotidiano [Everyday]. Chief curator: Sergio Mah
PHE10. Tiempo [Time]. Chief curator: Sergio Mah
PHE11. Interfaces. Retrato y comunicación [Interface. Portrait and communication].
Chief curator: Gerardo Mosquera
PHE12. Desde aquí. Contexto e internalización [From here. Context and internalisation]. Chief curator: Gerardo Mosquera
PHE13. Cuerpo. Eros y políticas [The body. Eros and politics]. Chief curator: Gerardo Mosquera PHE14. Nos vemos. Fotografía española [See you. Spanish photography]. Collective curatorship
PHE15. Nos vemos acá. Fotografía latinoamericana [See you here. Latin American photography]. Collective curatorship
PHE16. Europas. Fotografía europea [Europes. European photography]. Collective curatorship


The festival has chosen to establish a network of venues both within the Comunidad de Madrid as well as in other provinces, weaving a web of culture that brings the it to citizens near and far. The
festival has also grown in terms of the number of exhibitions held yearly, reaching 94 of them in the past edition. The oficial section boasted 97 venues spread across nine provinces in Spain: Madrid, Albacete, Badajoz, Ciudad Real, Cuenca, Guadalajara, Segovia, Toledo and Zaragoza. Among those venues were the Antonio Pérez Foundation of Cuenca, La Cárcel Centro de Creación in Segovia and La Lonja in Zaragoza. Significantly, 2016 marked the rst time that an autonomous community has opened wide its doors to PHotoESPAÑA, with Castilla-La Mancha featuring exhibitions in each of its provinces.

Added to these venues, prestigious institutions across the continent have seen t to join the festival. A total of 18 international venues have taken part in the following 12 countries: Slovakia, Finland, France, Ireland, Latvia, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Russia and Turkey. Among them, institutions such as Le Jeu de Paume in Paris or the Nederlands Fotomuseum in Roterdam.

During these opening 19 years PHotoEspa a has presented over 1,300 exhibitions and more than 3,000 photographers have exhibited their creations over the years. National and international figures such as Helena Almeida, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Bae Bien-U, Karl Blossfeldt, Edward Burtynsky, Javier Campano, Ana Casas Broda, Francesc Catalá-Roca, Tony Catany, Matías Costa, Mario Cravo Neto, Gabriel Cuallad , Ricky D vila, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Rineke Dijkstra, William Eggleston, Olafur Eliasson, Elliot Erwitt, Joan Fontcuberta, William Henry Fox Talbot, Robert Frank, Alberto García-Alix, Daniel García Andujar, Cristina García Rodero, Pablo Genov s, Nan Goldin, Pierre Gonnord, Luis Gonz lez Palma, Paul Graham, Andreas Gursky, Cristobal Hara, Kimsooja, Josef Koudelka, Sol LeWitt, Chema Madoz, Man Ray, Sally Mann, Ram n Masats, Oriol Maspons, Susan Meiselas, Enrique Metinides, Helmut Newton, Jos Ortiz Echague, Max Pam, Martin Parr, Irving Penn, Humberto Rivas, Sebasti o Salgado, August Sander, Antonio Saura, Andr s Serrano, Stephen Shore, Malick Sidib , Hiroshi Sugimoto, Wolfgang Tillmans, Miguel Trillo, Joel-Peter Witkin, or Francesca Woodman, among many others, have graced the walls of the festival.

In these 20 years we have published 19 festival guides, which have developed into a collector’s item for visitors. In 2007 an 'Dictionary of Photographers. 1998–2007' was published, bringing together the over 200 creators who had taken part in individual exhibitions in the oficial section of the festival over the rest 10 years. Additionally, La Fábrica has published more than 85 exhibition catalogues, both monographic and group exhibitions, which ensure the continued presence of the festival in a different format and that reach a vast audience through our distribution network both domestically and internationally.

The Festival's Awards
The festival’s highest honour, the PHE Award, pays tribute to the career of an international figure in the world of photography.
The Bartolomé Ros Award highlights the contributions of a Spanish individual to photography in any of its facets.
Premio al Fotógrafo Revelación [Young Photographer Award]: chosen by vote, it is bestowed on the most distinguished Spanish photographer under 35 years of age from the previous edition of the festival.
Premio Descubrimientos [Discovery Award]: an international jury composed of photography specialists chooses the best of the works presented in the portfolio review of Descubrimientos PHE.
Premio del Público [People’s Choice]: visitors are asked to choose which, in their view, is the best exhibition of the festival.
Off Festival Award: one of the galleries from the Off Festival section is presented with an award for the approach of its exhibition, the artistic merit of the works and authors displayed, as well as the gallery’s effort to put forward a specific project for PHotoESPAÑA.
The festival aims to recognise the important role played by the publishing industry in the dissemination of photography. Since 1998 PHotoESPAÑA highlights the most outstanding photography book of the year. In 2007 this recognition was split into three different categories: Best Book of the Year both in Spain and abroad and Outstanding Publisher of the Year. One further category was added in 2015: Best Self-Published Photography Book.
From 2008 to 2014 PHotoESPAÑA and the documentary photography magazine OjodePez also teamed up to present the Premio PHotoESPAÑA OjodePez de Valores Humanos [Human Values Award].

As well as exhibitions, PHotoESPAÑA organises various public activities that turn the festival into an all-embracing affair. Workshops, seminars, portfolio reviews, meetings, conferences, photography projections, film cycles and even a marathon are all part of the festival’s programme.

One of the aims of the festival is to provide a space for reflection surrounding photography and the role of the image. Since 2003, Encuentros PHotoESPAÑA [PHE meetings] have provided a professional platform for professional debate and exchange to touch upon the place of photography in contemporary art, with prominent national and international artists and professionals in the field tackling the subject. PHotoESPAÑA also organises Campus PHE Grandes Maestros [great masters], a series of photography workshops delivered by photographers with ample experience. Each photographer guides a reduced group of participants through an intensive programme that includes photo shootings, daily reviews, group feedback sessions, mentoring, and editing sessions. Descubrimientos, PHotoESPAÑA’s portfolio review, provides the opportunity to seventy previously selected photographers to show their work to international curators, gallery directors and publishers in order to create a discussion that might open commercial avenues to bring their projects to fruition.

Gold Medal of Merit in Fine Arts
In 2014 the Ministry of Culture recognised with the highest decoration there is in the sector the importance of a festival that over the years has become a distinctive landmark in the international photography scene. This Gold Medal not only recognises a collective effort but also constitutes a wonderful reward to the world of photography at large and to everyone who has a passion for the image. PHotoESPAÑA’s greatest asset is its tenacity, its ambition and its capability to bring together year after year over a hundred corporations and institutions, several hundred creators and more than seven hundred thousand visitors. The capacity to turn photography into a genuine event and to communicate it the whole of society.

The 20th Anniversary of PHotoESPAÑA provides the festival with an enviable opportunity to take another step forward. Part of a changing world, it is plain to see that photography has developed enormously over the past two decades, and while we have contributed to such development, in the coming years we want to be ahead of the curve and spur the changes. Moreover, the emergence of digital technology has added a whole new dimension to the art of photography, as well as to the ways in which it can communicated and presented to society. Therein lies the great development potential for the festival. The celebration of the 20th Anniversary of PHotoESPAÑA over the coming two years, 2017 (when the 20th edition of the festival will be held) and 2018 (which marks 20 years since the event was first established), constitutes the ideal setup to push forward new ideas and investments that cement the festival’s reputation both at a national and international level.