The international festival of contemporary photography Fotopub Festival was founded in 2000 by LokalPatriot Institute and it is based in Novo Mesto, a city in southeastern Slovenia. The festival was originally named the Fotopub Festival of Documentary Photography, but from 2014, its focus has shifted from documentary and reportage photography to encompass a wider and conceptual perspective, and the festival itself became a platform for contemporary, not only photographic, arts. Every year it brings together international artists and curators, whose practices are located in the gaps and overlaps of contemporary visual arts, new media and technology.
Originally conceived as an international summer photography workshop, the Fotopub Festival of Documentary Photography soon developed into an important annual event dedicated entirely to documentary and reportage photography. The festival’s first creative director was the renowned photographer Borut Peterlin.
In 2014, the then-already traditional festival of 14 years was cancelled because of lack of public funding. It soon re-established itself with a new team of young photographers under the guise of the Fotopub Association for Contemporary Culture with a new concept that replaced the emphasis on documentary and reportage photography with a critical questioning of the current contacts of photographic with contemporary arts.
Today, Fotopub Festival focuses on contemporary art photography and aims at promoting the younger generation of Slovene and foreign photographers and building bridges between professionals and amateur audiences. It continues to extend the artistic, curatorial and geographical dialogues, in particular, the concept of photography. “Fotopub deals with contemporary photo art, not with photography itself,” explained Dušan Josip Smodej, the festival’s managing director for the daily newspaper Delo. “We do not want to separate photo art from fine arts. Photographic practices can be unpredictable, they can act as installations, videos, graphic works or high-tech practices. We refuse demarcations between the media and are open to any experimental practice that approaches the photographic.”
Each year, Fotopub Festival brings to Novo Mesto around 40 well-known and respected artists, curators, editors, publishers and directors from a dozen countries working in various fields of contemporary art. They are selected for their emphasis on researching and spreading the boundaries of contemporary photography. The festival presents a series of newly-commissioned projects that critically disturb, question and react to the artistic and socio-political rituals, power structures, antagonisms and processes of knowledge production. The festival programme includes a series of formal and informal events, ranging from 8 exhibitions, a few projects and panel talks, a music programme and the Fotopub Portfolio Review. The programme is presented in unconventional and/or abandoned spaces across the city centre, with site-specific installations and performances happening throughout the streets of Novo Mesto.