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W. Eugene Smith Exhibit More Real than Reality on View at PHotoEspaña 2008
W. Eugene Smith, Guardia Civil, Spain 1950. Center for Creative Photography, © W. Eugene Smith Archive The Heirs of W. Eugene Smith.

MADRID.- The exhibition includes over 200 images from the most emblematic series taken for Life magazine in the 1940’s and 1950’s and the projects Pittsburgh and Minamata. A full review of the series Country Doctor, Nurse Midwife, A man of Mercy and Spanish Village is made.

W. Eugene Smith is one of the main figures in humanist photography and his career centred on his obsession with the truth, resulting in passionate, idealistic, sensitive and optimistic images. As a photojournalist, between 1946 and 1954, he made some fifty projects for Life magazine, known as Photographic Essays. After having left the magazine, Smith carried out extensive independent projects such as
Pittsburgh (1955–1957), for which he took more than 10,000 photos, and Minamata (1971–1975), about the chemical contamination of the population in that Japanese island.

These two exhaustive projects are – together with the photo essays made for Life: Country Doctor, Nurse Midwife, A Man of Mercy and Spanish Village – the heart of the W. Eugene Smith. more real than reality exhibition, a comprehensive review in over two hundred photographs of the work of a creator of emotionally intense and photographically spectacular images.

W. Eugene Smith (U.S.A. 1918–1978) was self trained. At the age of nineteen, he began to collaborate with Newsweek and a year later with Life, Look, Harper’s Bazaar and The New York Times. He left Life in 1955 and joined Magnum Photos. Along with his photographic work, he was a professor at the New School for Social Research in New York. His photographs have been shown in the most important art institutions, including the MoMA in New York, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Art Institute in Chicago and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

PHotoEspaña 2008 will base its exhibition program on the theme of Place. The Festival will include new proposals and initiatives intended for all visitors. From 4th June to 27th July, PHEO8 will host 69 exhibitions: 32 at the Official Section and 37 at the Off Festival, with works by 230 artists from different disciplines and 35 different countries.

Place is the main theme running through the artistic proposal for this edition, which will form part of the Official Section of the Festival, curated by Sérgio Mah. The artistic proposal will open its program with the guest exhibitions and will close with Public Programmes consisting of multidisciplinary activities.

The Festival will present the key works of contemporary authors such as Javier Vallhonrat, Thomas Demand, Roni Horn and Florian Maier-Aichen, as well as that of masters of photography such as W. Eugene Smith, Bill Brandt and Robert Smithson. PHotoEspaña also comes to Portugal with two exhibitions: the Museo Berardo in Lisbon will host the Utopia collective, and as part of the Allgarve 2008 Programme, the Museo de Portimão will house the works of Ignasi Aballi Cuenca will also host four exhibitions by Francesc Català-Roca, Juan López, Esteban Pastorino and Marcellvs L.

Cine PHE will run a film cycle at the Filmoteca Española devoted to Tsai Ming-Liang, the director of The Taste of Watermelon and The Hole The Complejo El Águila will be the focal point for emerging photography with the viewing of this year’s Descubrimientos PHE portfolios and exhibitions. Campus PHE Comunidad de Madrid will bring together masters of photography such as Paul Graham, Guillaume Herbaut and Simon Norfolk in Aranjuez.

Photographers and specialists such as Boris Groys, Joachim Schmid, Daniel Canogar, Pedro Meyer, Clément Chéroux and the AES+F collective will take part in Encuentros PHE, organized by Joan Fontcuberta. Fundación Canal will become a photographic stage with ¡Retrátate!, an initiative in which authors such as Isabel Muñoz, Miguel Trillo and Luis de las Alas will take pictures of the public visiting at the Fundación Canal from May 31st to June 1st. The Barrio de las Letras will be the stage for La Noche de la Fotografía on 13th June, with the participation of Andreu Buenafuente‘s group,

H.R.H. la Infanta Doña Elena will open PHotoEspaña on 4th June at 11:30 a.m., at the Real Jardín Botánico in Madrid.

PHotoEspaña, the International Festival of Photography and Visual Arts was founded in 1998 with the aim of finding its inspiration in contemporary society, and is now one of the most important visual arts events in the world.

Each year its exhibitions and educational and professional programs attract more than six hundred thousand people, a figure that makes it the largest and most popular of all cultural events celebrated in Spain.


Place will be addressed from an open and transversal angle. Sérgio Mah has proposed several exhibitions where place is tackled not as a physical and spatial concept but as something already lived, where the experience of the photographer takes on fundamental significance.

Historically, photography has been related to place. Movements like land art or genres such as site specific have laid down the need of the artist to work with space. In this way place is filled with spiritual, ethical and mythological content, and it is determined by economic, social and ecological elements as well as by the experiences taking place there. PHEO8 will show how historical and contemporary artists have tackled the matter in such different genres as street, landscape, documentary, architectural and topographic photography or even portraits. The PHotoEspaña programme includes works where the place is very closely linked to individual or collective experiences, where elements such as territoriality or globalization take on particular importance.

What distinguishes a place in physical, poetic and ideological terms? How are places lived and what are their effects? How are places connected and formed on the basis of social and political behaviour? What are the paradigmatic places of the contemporary landscape? These are all fundamental questions for current thinking and in fact, they constitute a matter for reflection. PHotoEspaña 2008 will offer a varied overview of authors and visual works related to the concept of place. The program of exhibitions will create an open approach with room for town, nature, public and private spaces, reality and fiction. In order to do this, three main points will be applied: reference locations for collective history and collective memory because of their symbolic echoes and because they refer to contemporary historical events; the main typologies of place, i.e., everyday experience in places where private, working or social life takes place and the re-definitions of the concept of place, after the emergence of spaces dependant on phenomena such as capitalism or globalization.

Place is a key issue for contemporary photography and PHotoEspaña will present a series of exhibitions where this theme is not working as a mere leitmotiv. In each exhibition in the Official Section the authors establish a close relationship with the physical or mental space which they photograph. The relationship built up by the great masters with their environment is vital to our understanding of contemporary artists’ experience of place.

PHotoEspaña is one of the largest international forums for photography, and its prestige, recognized by the most important critics, has made it one of the world's essential cultural events. The Festival is made possible thanks to the support of private and public institutions, including the Spanish Ministry of Culture, the Community of Madrid and Madrid's City Hall.

Each edition of the Festival centers on a theme, and its program is divided into the Official Section, which takes in museums and large cultural venues, and the Off Festival, which counts on the participation of art galleries and other spaces. The Official Section's exhibition agenda is divided into three parts, offering a broad overview of photography and the visual arts. Every three years a general curator develops a thematic section related to a specific topic. The section dedicated to the great masters presents in depth exhibits of the work of artists relevant to the history of photography. The third section, called Invited Projects, completes the Festival's official program with spaces dedicated to awards and Spanish and international photography collections.

PHotoEspaña is an extraordinary opportunity to see photography projects, videos and installations by the most important national and international photographers and visual artists. Throughout the Festival's various editions more than 600 exhibitions have been celebrated in the citys principal museums, exhibition spaces, art centers and galleries.

In conjunction with the exhibition agenda, the Festival offers educational and professional programs, with activities targeting different sectors of the public. Campus-workshops and master classes; Descubrimientos-the viewing of Festival portfolios; and Encuentros-debates on photography directed at professionals and emerging photographers. Workshops for children and young people, and guided tours of the exhibitions complete the Festival’s educational programs.

In addition, PhotoEspaña is a Festival that aspires to be present at street level. With that in mind, numerous activities will take place in public spaces, such as the PHotoMarathon and Photography Night.

The heart of the Festival in Madrid is located along the Paseo de Castellana, the principle avenue dividing the city in two. In addition, in recent editions the city of Cuenca has joined the Festival, offering a more intimate ambience. The Festival's growing international reputation has led to collaborations with a different country each year, made manifest in the participation of artists and other figures in cultural events undertaken between institutions in both countries. This collaborative effort, which was launched in 2007 with the participation of France, continues this year with Portugal, through a joint artistic and communications program.

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