The Flash Forward Photography Festival Returns to Boston

The annual four-day festival has flourished in the city since 2011.

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Top Row: Truck Fire, Michoacán, Mexico by Brett Gundlock, Fiesta, Michoacán, Mexico by Brett Gundlock, Liz by Michael Sharkey. / Bottom Row: From the series Flying Henry by Rachel Hulin, Photograph by Rachel Hulin, Still from the film 16 Photographs At Ohrdruf. / All photos via Flash Forward Festival

Don’t blink or you’ll miss it. This week marks the return of the Flash Forward Festival, a four-day celebration of art and photography with free events around town and based at the Fairmont Battery Wharf Hotel.

The festival, which began in Toronto, moved to Boston in 2011 at the invitation of the Fairmont’s then-general manager Matthew Sterne. “We came to see the property and fell in love with the location,” says Flash Forward director MaryAnn Camilleri. “It really turned into Flash Forward’s home.”

Entering its fourth year in Boston, the buzz for the festival is really high, says Camilleri, who has seen attendance steadily rise throughout the years. This month’s “pre-festival” events have already attracted a wide audience, despite the core four-day event not beginning until Thursday.

Festival events coming up May 1 through 4 include several talks with professional photographers and photo editors (from National Geographic Magazine, the New York Times Magazine, and more), as well as numerous special exhibits.

But although the Fairmont serves as Flash Forward’s headquarters for the weekend, Camilleri is especially happy to have more open-air events set up at locations like the Rose Kennedy Greenway, where last year’s “Fence” exhibit (a 500-foot strip of photography at the Greenway that pedestrians can stroll along and enjoy) attracted more than an estimated half million people.

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Top Row: Travel photograph from Air Canada’s enRoute magazine, Waiting for You by Charlene Liska, Photo by Ellie Huntress, Change My Mind by Thomas J. Gustainis. / Middle Row: Michael at Tony’s from the series Michael by Rick Ashley, Funny House by Dominic Chavez, From the series In Plain Air by Irina Rozovsky, Photo by Ashley McDowell. / Bottom Row: Walé Asongwaka, Finally Free by Patrick Willocq, Seekers by Calé, The Fence on the Rose Kennedy Greenway, Chain Link from the series The Suburbs by Alberto D’Agostino. / All photos via Flash Forward Festival

“I think our work with the Greenway has been really interesting,” says Camilleri. “We’re doubling the size of “The Fence” [this year] with just New England artists on one side. And I think the public will get a kick out of the exhibits at the shipping containers, too.”

Of the many free programs and exhibits being offered, however, Camilleri says “[Photo]gogues: New England” is one of the can’t-miss stops. Located by the downtown Macy’s, the collection will feature the work of a dozen area teachers and professors.

Despite consistently high-rated reviews for the festival, Camilleri is cautious about growth: “I just hope that each year we can expand our reach into the community. … A month-long festival for art and photography might be too ambitious, but maybe a 15-day festival. It would be great to have a longer festival or even pre-festival.”

No matter the size or rate of growth, the Flash Forward Festival’s end game will remain the same.

“Our goal was always to shine a light on the creativity of Boston and to create a community of the arts here,” Camilleri says. “We’ve just loved the new groups we’ve been working with. Boston really does have a thriving arts community.”

 

The 2014 Flash Forward Festival takes place May 1 to 4. For more information, including a full schedule of events and *live streams* of this weekend’s talks, visit flashforwardfestival.com.

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