Los Angeles’s siren song has proved hard to resist to countless New Yorkers, from the Brooklyn Dodgers to assorted creative types, average joes, and celebrity chefs. Later this week, you can add the photography festival Photoville to the growing list of Gothamites looking westward.
From April 26 to 28 and May 2 to 5, Los Angeles’s Century Park will host Photoville LA, a celebration of visual work, created and produced by the nonprofit organization United Photo Industries in collaboration with Annenberg Space for Photography for the cultural center’s 10th anniversary. United Photo Industries was founded by Laura Roumanos, Sam Barzilay and Dave Shelley.
Free to the public, the festival will include installations, talks, workshops and related activities. More than 200 artists from around the world will be featured in more than 55 exhibits and installations, with more than half of the participants based in Los Angeles. As with Photoville NY, the famously repurposed shipping containers, photo cubes, and light boxes will transform into galleries and installation spaces.
“There’s this really great community, and a lot of really great stuff going on in Los Angeles,” said Ms. Roumanos, one of Photoville’s co-founders, along with Mr. Barzilay and Mr. Shelley. “We’re not coming in to change things up. We’re really about celebrating the community in L.A. and bringing great artists to collaborate with.”
Among the work staying close to home is Estevan Oriol’s “This is Los Angeles,” a love letter to East L.A.’s lowrider culture, and Joseph Rodríguez’s “East Side Stories,” a decades-long series following the lives of gang members, capturing humanity and family life often not seen, and which will be exhibited in Los Angeles for the first time. Janna Ireland’s “There is Only One Paul R. Williams” celebrates the work of the Los Angeles native Paul R. Williams, the first certified black architect west of the Mississippi River whose design work includes the Beverly Hills Hotel and Frank Sinatra’s Palm Springs home, while “Freedom of Expression: Art Instruction in California Prisons” features California prison inmates engaged in creative pursuits like dance and writing. The nonprofit organization Las Fotos Project will present its mentorship program “Esta Soy Yo,” featuring self-portraits by young women and girls from working-class communities across Los Angeles.
The city’s buzzworthy food scene will also enjoy a spotlight beyond the 20 food vendors at Smorgasburg LA. The photographer Oriana Koren’s “Underground Chefs of South Central” follows five black chefs who navigate the underground food economy through ingenious and unconventional salesmanship while Pablo Unzueta’s “L.A. Gente (L.A. People)” chronicles the communities and conflicts that surround the city’s historical — and only recently legalized — practice of street food vending. In a darker vein, “Drive-Thru” features Lara Jo Regan’s series of anonymous portraits of fast-food workers in Los Angeles, all approximately the size of a drive-through window.
While the exhibits celebrate L.A.’s many bustling cultures and communities, others veer toward shedding direct light on issues like immigration and climate change. John Moore, who recently won the World Press Photo of the Year, will present “Undocumented,” a 10-year retrospective on his work covering undocumented immigrants from Mexico and Central America at the U.S.-Mexico border, and in “Forced Migration: There and Here,” Brian L. Frank draws parallels between the refugees fleeing violence from south of California’s border and those displaced by environmental crises to the north. The group exhibition “With Water, Without Water” by members of the American Society of Media Photographers visualizes the limited resource’s vitality and importance to the state of California, while “California Calamities: A State of Emergency” presented by The Los Angeles Times’s photography department captures the horrors of the recent statewide fires.
Projects focusing on the world outside Los Angeles include “Katie’s New Face” from National Geographic, which chronicles Katie Stubblefield’s journey to undergo a face transplant while “Pit Bull Flower Power” portrays these very good (but misunderstood) boys and girls in floral garments. The group exhibition “Parallax” from Authority Collective, a group of womxn, femmes, trans, non-binary and gender-nonconforming people of color, features portraits of queer people of color to examine alternative viewpoints of the contemporary queer experience.
The New York Times will feature two exhibits: “Past Tense: California,” an archival project that looks at the paper’s coverage of the state during the 20th century, and “#ThisIs18,” which features what life is like for 18-year-old girls around the world, and documented by their contemporaries.
Beyond the exhibitions, Photoville LA will feature several talks and workshops. A panel presented by the Committee to Protect Journalists will address photographer safety at the U.S.-Mexico border, while co-founders Laylah Amatullah Barrayn and Adama Delphine Fawundu of the publication MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora will moderate a panel discussion on spirituality and photography. Adobe will host several walking tours as well as tutorials on how to better use your camera phone or photograph for social media. The New York Times will host discussions for each of its exhibits.
“I created the Annenberg Space for Photography to spread the word that my favorite art form is really telling our story, an expression of who we are right now, and it can speak to everyone,” Wallis Annenberg, the Annenberg Foundation Chairman and C.E.O., said in an email. “And now, Photoville LA, which also trumpets the power of visual storytelling, allows visitors to experience a huge range of photography in an immersive, interactive, and just-plain-fun environment.”