13 September 2020
10:59 PM

By clicking "Start Submission", you agree to be contacted by the host regarding this opportunity.


FORMAT21 is delighted to announce the festival theme CONTROL and welcomes diverse and imaginative proposals from international photographers, curators, artists and collectives. Our eminent panel of international experts and the FORMAT Curators will view the submissions and select up to 35 projects to be exhibited at FORMAT21 in March 2021.


Invited from around the world, our Advisory Jury includes:
Erik Kessels (Netherlands), Gwen Lee (Singapore), He Yining (China), Gemma Marmalade (UK), Brian Griffin (UK), Wang Peiquan & Isabella Xueke Wang(China), Azu Nwagbogu (Nigeria), Wang Baoguo (China), Fiona Shields (UK), Tanya Habjouqa (Jordan), Skinder Hundal (UK), Simon Bainbridge (UK), Tanvi Mishra (India), Emma Bowkett (UK), Anna Kucma and Stella Nantongo (Uganda), Louise Fedotov-Clements (UK), and MacDonaldStrand (Gordon MacDonald & Clare Strand) (UK)

The theme for FORMAT21 is CONTROL, it is rich, deep and wide. It is about power, politics, relationships, history, propaganda, borders, trust, truth, freedom, knowledge, digital realm, direction, storytelling, narrative, curation, fabricating fictions, surveillance, dystopia and much more.  We are open to featuring all kinds of photography, contemporary, performative and archival. The festival will explore and challenge the idea of CONTROL through how we represent the ever changing world, society, imaginations, relationships, lands and histories. Works can be focussed on any subject, as long as you articulate a connection to your ideas in relation to CONTROL in your application.

We are living in truly transformative times, the Covid-19 crisis has brought about profound challenges worldwide, the impact is yet unknown. Will we remember this time as the beginning of drifting away from each other along national divides, the fragmentation of societies into conflicted communities or will it be a historical moment of cooperation and solidarity?  The recent months have seriously contested our health systems, economies and have rocked social cohesion, the world as we knew it has been seriously shaken. The virus crisis has disrupted our perception of ‘normality’, misinformation, propaganda and power politics are rife. People around the world have taken to the streets in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, climate justice and more, while shifting power systems and inequality further push us to reconsider our entire way of life, consequently there will be deep implications on how we build the future as we enter into the new normal.

CONTROL has many dimensions, at its core it consists of the act of influencing others and yourself through a chain of decisions, strategy, conditioning, power, habit and response. It also implies the losing of, or even defying of control. Photography is intrinsically part of the system of control, used as a tool to exert power and to communicate. Social media, facial recognition, algorithms and AI are all integrated and have begun to decide what or who is socially accepted or excluded. In the act of image production, we pivot between roles; as witnesses or accomplice, actor or voyeur.  What happens to society when pictures are read by computers and no longer by humans and when reality is only perceived through an image, what power exerts control and what possibilities for change can they present? Artists and curators are used to controlling the focus on the relationships between images, text, sound and space, they can show us to what extent our sense of sight depends on technologies, ideologies, subtle relations and political strategies, they make the unseeable, seeable.

CONTROL is a theme that we invite you to think widely about, there are many ways to perceive it. We are looking for a wide range of submissions and are open to all approaches and ideas from the archive to the most contemporary and conceptual projects. Including proposals from all the image-based genres, long term researched documentary; multimedia; VR; moving image; installation; publications; online; interactive; performance; participatory; mobile and interactive. We want you to challenge us and respond to the theme in as many inventive ways as you can imagine.

Selected entries will be given the opportunity to exhibit at FORMAT21 and a chance to receive one of the festival awards. All submissions will receive the opportunity to be seen by our panel of industry experts and FORMAT Curators

‘If you don’t control your mind, someone else will’ - Barbara Kruger


FORMAT is a truly ambitious and huge enterprise, an intelligently and coherently curated festival
– Arts Council England

Scholarly, stimulating and up to the standards of its international peers. – Francis Hodgson

Awards, Prizes and Opportunities

All participants selected to exhibit will receive:

  • A FORMAT21 bursary

  • Inclusion in the FORMAT21 exhibitions programme

  • Featured in and a copy of the FORMAT21 special edition festival catalogue

  • Featured on the FORMAT21 website

  • 10% off tickets for selected events at FORMAT21

  • £20 reduction off the FORMAT21 International Portfolio Review fee

FORMAT21 Awards

  • FORMAT21 Award, £2000

  • The Genesis Imaging Award £1000 for print and framing services

  • RPS Award Selected by a RPS Honorary Fellow; a feature and interview in the award-winning RPS Journal, a mentoring session (online) with an honorary Fellow of the RPS matched to the award recipient's photography, plus one year's free RPS membership

  • The Spectrum Imaging Award for £750 in printing services

Everyone who applies will receive:

  • Visibility with the FORMAT21 international jury and FORMAT curators

  • The opportunity to be featured on the FORMAT Festival curated Instagram feed

Application Fees and Deadlines

Application fee, Early Bird 17€ (Until 23rd August 2020, 11pm GMT)
Application fee, Standard 23€ (after 23rd August, 11pm GMT)

For full details of how to apply please see our Application Guidelines / Terms and Conditions

Each application fee will cover just one project of up to 20 images and can include reference to moving image, installation shots, ideas and composite images.  We welcome submissions from all over the world, from photographers; curators; artists; collectives and institutions

Multiple submissions will be accepted on payment of multiple application fees.

Image size: min. 1500 px on the longest side, RGB and no bigger than 10MB, jpeg

Project description 2000 characters including blank spaces, web links to additional information if relevant

Installation description 2000 characters including blank spaces, if relevant please include installation notes and practical details about how you like to present your work, including, size, medium, layout and any other information. If selected we cannot guarantee that all conditions will be met, but your information will be used for reference.



There is a wonderful intensity at FORMAT festivals, which showcases the most current ideas in photography. As an emerging artist, I was excited to be part of such an extraordinary event and to have an audience for my work from so many important figures in the photography world. - Monica Alcazar-Duarte, Mexico

Exhibiting my work at FORMAT was a fantastic experience. The shows, and the unusual spaces in which they are curated, are presented with such enthusiasm and consideration by the festival team. It's a great opportunity for your work to reach a diverse and international audience. - Jan McCullough - Northern Ireland


Call for entries open
15 July 2020
Submission deadline
13 September 2020
Artists contacted
October 2020
Public announcement of selected artists and awards
December 2020
Format21 Opening Weekend
March 2021
FORMAT21 Portfolio Reviews
13 March 2021
Festival Close (some exhibitions may continue for longer)
28 March 2021



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Advisory Jury Biographies

Azu Nwagbogu (Nigeria)

Founder/Director, African Artists' Foundation (AAF) & LagosPhoto Festival

Azu was previously Director/Head Curator of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art in South Africa. Creator of Art Base Africa, a virtual space for contemporary African Art. Regular Juror worldwide inc Dutch Doc; POPCAP; World Press Photo, Prisma Award; Greenpeace Photo Award; New York Times Portfolio Review. For the past 20 years, he has curated private collections for individuals and corporate organisations in Africa.

Emma Bowkett (UK)

Director of Photography, FT Weekend Magazine

Emma has also curated exhibitions for the Triennale der Photographie Hamburg, Peckham 24 and co-curated an exhibition with under-represented Londoners as part of the Magnum/ Create Jobs programme. Associate Lecturer at LCC, an international workshop leader, portfolio reviewer, juror. She is part of Magnum Photos Professional Practice for emerging photographers. Winner of the Firecracker Contributors Award, for her impact on the photography industry. Curator for a Financial Times special supplement and day of events as part of Photo London. (Photo: Alicia Hart)

Erik Kessels (Netherlands)

Artist, curator & communication designer

A Creative Partner of communications agency KesselsKramer since 1996 in Amsterdam/London and Erik won many international awards. As an artist/curator Kessels has published over 75 books of his 're-appropriated' images: Wonder (2003); In Almost Every Picture (2001-2020); Shit (2018) and Read Naked (2019). Since 2000, he has been an editor of the alternative photography magazine Useful Photography and has written the international bestseller Failed It! His curated exhibitions include Loving Your Pictures, Mother Nature, 24HRS in Photos, Album Beauty, Unfinished Father and Group Show. He was called "a visual sorcerer" by Time Magazine and a "Modern Anthropologist" by Voque (Italia).

Fiona Shields (UK)

Head of Photography, Guardian News & Media

Fiona has over twenty years' picture editing experience across a range of newspaper titles. Previously Picture editor of the Guardian before the role of Head of Photography for the Guardian News and Media Group. Throughout her career Fiona has been involved in the coverage of historic news stories including 9/11 and terror attacks in London and Europe, conflicts from Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan, Arab spring, earthquakes, tsunamis, famine and the humanitarian refugee crises. She has delivered talks at photofestivals, mentored photojournalism students and judged international Awards.

Yining He (China) Writer & Curator

He Yining is a researcher, writer and curator of photography and visual culture. Her curatorial practice concerned with historical social issues through interdisciplinary practices. Yining's exhibitions include: The Abode of Anamnesis (OCAT Institute); the 3rd Beijing Photo Biennale (CAFA Art Museum); The Port and The Image: Documenting China's Harbour Cities (China Port Museum); A Fictional Narrative Turn (Jimei Arles International Photo Festival); and 50 Contemporary Photobooks from China 2009-2014 (FORMAT15, UK).
Publications include Photography in the British Classroom and The Port and the Image.

Gwen Lee (Singapore)

Co-founder/Director, Singapore Photography Festival & Director, DECK, Singapore

After working in the museum industry, Lee co-founded Singapore International Photography Festival (SIPF). In 2014, Lee and the SIPF team built an independent art space called DECK to provide a year round platform and residency program for photographers. DECK received the Singapore President's Design Award 2015. Lee has curated and organised over 60 photography international exhibitions including Flux: Contemporary Photography from China at Art Science Museum and solo exhibitions of Daido Moriyama and Araki Nobuyoshi. She is also an international jury member and portfolio reviewer

Simon Bainbridge (UK)

Arts Educator and Writer, former editorial of British Journal of Photography and Author or 'Magnum Artists'.

Simon is an arts editor and writer specialising in contemporary photography. He is the former editorial director of 1854 Media, since 2003, transforming it from a weekly journal into an award-winning monthly magazine. He initiated BJP's annual talent platform, Ones To Watch and Portrait of Britain. In addition, he has curated exhibitions at photography festivals from the UK to North America, and is an external assessor at KABK and ECAL. His first book, Magnum Portraits, will be published by Laurence King in August 2020.

Skinder Hundal (UK)

CEO/Director of New Art Exchange

Skinder is CEO/Director of New Art Exchange since the establishment of the organisation in 2008. He is passionate about supporting new talent, rethinking how the arts and cultural ecology works. He has successfully delivered many large-scale projects, including Here There & Everywhere as part of Re-Imagine India. Skinder has commissioned artists including Akram Zaatari, Zarina Bhimji, John Akomfrah, Hetain Patel, Zineb Sedira, Hurvin Anderson and Sonia Boyce and presented works including Christian Marclay's 'The Clock' and Turner prize winners Elizabeth Price and Duncan Campbell. Several commissions have been bought by Tate, Arts Council Collection and international museums.

Tanya Habjouqa (Jordan)

Artist, educator & co-owner/member of NOOR Images

A Jordanian-Texan photographer, Tanya's work involves long-term and collaborative methodologies, blending ethnography, investigative reportage and intuitive metaphor. Tanya trained in journalism and anthropology. Her book "Occupied Pleasures" received accolades from international magazines, and won the World Press Photo Award. She is in the permanent collections of the MFA Boston, Institut du Monde Arabe, and Carnegie Museum of Art, represented by East Wing. She mentors for the Arab Photography Documentary Program, teaching workshops internationally.

MacDonaldStrand (UK)

Gordon MacDonald, Curator/Editor/Artist & Clare Strand, Artist

MacDonaldStrand are the collaborative partnership of Gordon MacDonald and Clare Strand. They are based in Brighton. MacDonald is a curator, editor and artist. He was founding editor of Photoworks magazine, co-founded Brighton photo Fringe and co-founded GOST Books. MacDonald is currently working on a new magazine and personal projects. Strand is an internationally recognised artist whose work is held in many private and public collections including the Arts Council of England collection, the National Collection at the V&A and Collection Centré Pompidou. She is shortlisted for the 2020 Deutsche Borse Foundation Photography Prize.

Tanvi Mishra (India)

Photo Editor & Curator

Tanvi is a Delhi-based Photo Editor and Curator focused on South Asian histories and narratives, fiction and political landscapes. Currently Tanvi is the Creative Director of The Caravan, a journal of politics and culture published in Delhi. She is part of the photo-editorial team of PIX, a South Asian publication. In 2013 and 2015, she was part of the Delhi Photo Festival team in India; guest curator at the second edition of Photo Kathmandu, Nepal. Her writing has featured in FOAM Magazine, Transformations---Exploring Changes in an Around Photography and The Caravan. A Juror for World Press Photo, Hindu Photojournalism Awards, Joop Swart Masterclass and a curatorial collaborator for the Greenpeace Photo Award and mentor for the 2019 Women Photograph program.

Wang Baoguo (China)

Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Chinese Photographers Magazine 

Wang Baoguo is the deputy editor-in-chief of the magazine Chinese Photographers Magazine, part of the Chinese Academy of Arts. Wang has worked as a photographer, picture and commissioning editor for magazines across Asia. He is a frequent speaker at international conferences including Columbia University USA and ICP New York. Baoguo sits on international photography panels including Visa pour l'Image, Dali International Photography Festival, Yunnan, and International Photo Awards (China, Lucie Foundation). Wang published China Through Lens of Orientalism: China in Western Photography Since 1840 (SDX Joint Publishing Company).

Brian Griffin (UK)

Photographer & FORMAT Patron

Brian has worked as a photographer for over 45 years and has been commissioned by, Rolling Stone; Management Today and Esquire. He created many of the iconic record albums of the 1980s which have been published in his book POP. In 1989 he was declared by The Guardian as the Photographer of the Decade. Griffin was awarded the honorary position of Professor at the University of Derby; the Centenary Medal for a lifetime of achievement in photography by the Royal Photographic Society and an Honorary Doctorate from Birmingham City University. Griffin has exhibited his work worldwide, and his most recent book SPUD was shot on the battle fields of Northern France.

(Photo: Josh Hight) 

Anna Kućma (Uganda/Poland)

Director, Uganda Press Photo Award

Anna is the director of the Uganda Press Photo Award, a photography platform and annual competition for East African photojournalists and photographers. She also works as an independent curator focusing on visual literacy and photography education and development. She participated in the Independent Curators International Curatorial Intensive in Addis Ababa and has worked with Makerere Art Galley/Institute of Heritage Conservation and Restoration, the National Art Gallery in Nyanza, Rwanda and the National Art Gallery, Zimbabwe. She is also a member of the CAP Prize jury and a frequent curator working on diverse projects in and around Uganda.

Stella Nantongo (Uganda)

Programme Coordinator, Uganda Press Photo Award

Stella Nantongo is the programme and project coordinator at the Uganda Press Photo Award, an annual photography platform and competition for East Africa. A photography enthusiast with a mostly forgotten degree in IT, Stella is passionate about ways in which photographic education sparks creativity.

Wang Peiquan (China)

Director of Lishui Photography Festival

Peiquan is also the Director of China Photographers Association, Member of Curator Committee of China Photographers Association, Expert of Photofolio Review of Photolucida(2011). Judge of "Xv Xiaobing" National Photography Exhibition, Zhejiang Cutting-edge Contemporary Photography exhibition, Top 20 Chinese Cutting-edge Contemporary Photographers Exhibition, "Boqi" Photographic Contest and China Village Photography Exhibition.

Wang Xueke Isabella (China)

Director of International Department of Lishui Photography Festival

Isabella is also the Director of the Collection Department of the Photography Museum of Lishui, Standing member of International Alliance of Photo Galleries and China International Digital Photography Art Exhibition.

Gemma Marmalade (UK)

Artist & senior academic in Photography

Gemma Marmalade is a British artist and senior academic in Photography at the University of Derby. Gemma is also finalising doctoral research entitled: In A Manner of Speaking: The Subversive Voice in Performative Art at the Cambridge School of Art, Anglia Ruskin University. Gemma's work has show at the Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen; The Photographers' Gallery, London; Marjorie Barrick Museum, Las Vegas; The Apulia Film Commission, Bari; and the State Museum of Gulag, Moscow. Her work specialises in experimental approaches to photography, video and performance which playfully negotiate the authenticity of speech acts, history and science with queer politics.

Louise Fedotov-Clements (UK) Artistic Director, QUAD & Director, FORMAT International Photography Festival Derby

Louise has been the Artistic Director of QUAD since 2001, and the Director of FORMAT, which she co-founded in 2004. An independent curator since 1998 directing commissions, publications, performances and exhibitions. Guest Curator for international exhibitions/festivals including Dong Gang (Yeongwol) South Korea; Photoquai Biennale Musée du quai Branly Paris; Les Rencontres Arles, Discoveries; Dali Photo, China; Poikkeustila 2020 Finland; Venice Biennale EM15; Photo Beijing, and LishuiPhoto China; Korea International Photo Festival. An international awards advisor, she has contributed to numerous publications as producer/writer/Editorial Team and a juror, portfolio reviewer, speaker in Europe, America, Africa & Asia.


FORMAT21: CONTROL, 11th March -- 28th March 2021
Opening Weekend, 11th -- 14th March 2021

FORMAT International Photography Festival was established in 2004 and is the UK's leading international contemporary festival of photography and related media.

Previous festival editions have welcomed over 200,000 visitors from all over the world. The biennale and off year programmes celebrate the wealth of contemporary photographic practice.

With comprehensive professional practice programmes and a yearly International Photography Portfolio Review, FORMAT is focused on developing opportunities for audiences to see, debate, develop, contribute and participate in the best of what photography is and can be.

FORMAT is directed by Louise Fedotov-Clements and organised by QUAD and DMARC/The University of Derby. FORMAT is a non-profit and is a project of QUAD - Registered charity number 1115546. The festival is supported by Arts Council England and UK and international partners.


13 September 2020
10:59 PM

By clicking "Start Submission", you agree to be contacted by the host regarding this opportunity.