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How this organizer ran the CPH Photo Festival, in her PJ’s

CPH Photo Festival organizer Patricia on transitioning exhibition mediums. CPF’s installation at Reffen, Copenhagen
Images: Patricia Breinholm

 


Working with international events based in Copenhagen, and having her calendar booked with highly anticipated collaborations this spring and summer, the impact of the lockdown has been very significant for Patricia.

 

As a main event organiser for Copenhagen Photo Festival, Patricia felt in many ways dependent on the annual cycle of things.

“It can, of course, be challenging, when that is threatened by circumstances out of anyone’s control. So when a situation, such as the one that we are in now, sweeps the rug away from under our feet, it becomes crucial to adapt and to be flexible”.

But switching over to online team meetings and remote collaboration forced the CPF team to be creative and, in some ways, it really brought something new and valuable to the table.

The new, adapted aim of CPF was to experiment with different ways of presenting photography outside of the traditional gallery-setting. The unfortunate situation with COVID-19 opened up new possibilities, taking photographs out of their usual frames.

Festivals like this are heavily dependent on physical meetings, so although working in your pyjamas can seem great for the first week, after that Patricia really craved proper human interaction: 

“We are a relatively small team, and one of the nicest things is that, we normally get quite close by spending many hours together, planning and executing. That’s definitely one of the things I’ve missed the most. I think it’s always good to shake things up a bit, and it’s been great trying new things, such as recording a number of artists talks via Zoom, or coming up with a comprehensive campaign such as #cpfcelebratingphotography which brings many different channels into play.”

 

 

What creativity can extreme limitations bring about? – #cpfcelebratingphotography
Images by Patricia Breinholm

Copenhagen host Stella has also been involved in the making of CPF, alongside Patricia, and this year’s all-digital CPH:DOX. She believes that the most important lesson to be learned is recognising how much so many organisations and projects have in common, and how much they can learn from and support each other: “Although we don’t know or initially consider them relevant to our activities, we can develop great and innovative ideas and partnerships with them. And this is where ‘’thinking outside of the box’’ becomes truly real and important.”

So many cultural events rely on the shared experience of exploring a physical space, and the meetings between people that occur within it. Having restrictions on large gatherings and social-distancing rules has meant that events like CPF have faced a steep learning curve but ultimately been able to adapt, adjust, educate, and drive forward with innovative approaches – enabling them to reach a wider audience than ever before. Communities and events can thrive online; CPF and CPH:DOX have both been able to carve out unique spaces in the digital world  for shared cultural experience.

 

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