September 12, 2023

Thessaloniki PhotoΒiennale 2023: Photography on October!

The Thessaloniki Photobiennale is on its way, from October 10, 2023 until February 11, 2024, with more than 100 photographers from 18 countries participating and presenting their work in a multi-thematic programme of 25 exhibitions, open public events and educational programmes hosted in 19 museums, cultural venues and art venues in Thessaloniki and Athens.

The Thessaloniki Photobiennale 2023, organised by the MOMus-Thessaloniki Museum of Photography and supported by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, completes its thirty-sixth anniversary and is one of the oldest photography festivals in Europe. It is an important stage for the presentation of contemporary and historical Greek photography while being a vital crossroad with the international scene. This year’s festival runs

The main exhibition of the Thessaloniki Photobiennale 2023, “The Spectre of the People”, explores populism through photography and video and will be presented in MOMus-Thessaloniki Museum of Photography and MOMus-Experimental Center for the Arts, in Warehouse A’, Pier A’, Thessaloniki Port, from October 20, 2023, until February 11, 2024, curated by the art historian and photography theorist, Julian Stalabrass.

As the spectre of populism stalks the Earth, artists have grappled with its myriad dimensions: how and if to represent ‘the people’ (should they be thought to exist), and to represent democratic power, the nature of charismatic leaders, and popular protest and insurgency. The media of the lens, woven tightly around the history of mass politics since its inception, have been a natural field for this artistic exploration, which is variously documentary, performative, satrirical and conceptual. 

In the presented works by 26 photographers and groups, we explore questions like: who are ‘the people’, can they be grasped visually, are they the source of hope or dread, how are they condensed in the figures of their would-be leaders, and how do they assemble and behave in political protest? Who stands -- or is put -- outside ‘the people’, in terms of rights, living conditions and representation? And how are the visual aspects of political performance employed in the political fallout, to right, left and otherwise, from the crisis of the neoliberal centre?

Like the phenomenon of populism, born out of profound political crisis, the exhibition has a global ambit, contrasting works from artists working in nations including Brazil, Greece, Hungary, India, Italy, the Philippines, Poland, Ukraine, the UK and the US. This only makes the elusive concept of populism as it spans both the left-right divide, and that between mass participation and authoritarian rule, harder to tie down.


Curator: Julian Stallabrass

Catalogue texts: Yochai Benkler, Chantal Mouffe, Angela Nagle, Julian Stallabrass

Participating artists: Bani Abidi, Craig Ames, The Archive of Public Protests (A-P-P), Kimberly dela Cruz,, Ana Carolina Fernandes, Joan Fontcuberta and Pilar Rosado, Lauren Greenfield, Edgar Kanaykõ Xakriabá, Kostas Kapsianis, Uta Kögelsberger, Christian Lutz, MacDonaldStrand, Daniel Mayrit, Dimitris Michalakis, Boris Mikhailov, Rafal Milach, Sinna Nasseri, Paolo Pellegrin, Wolfgang Scheppe, Prarthna Singh, Stefanos Tsivopoulos, Vangelis Vlahos, Dougie Wallace, Carey Young


In the programme of the Thessaloniki Photobiennale 2023 to be announced, exhibitions of archival interest, historical and contemporary, group and individual, first-time and established photographers, the recording of the domestic photobook in the last twenty years, along with parallel events, educational programmes and guided tours will take place.

All MOMus museums participate in the Thesslaoniki Photobiennale 2023 for the first time since the launch of the organisation on 2018, and is warmly supported by cultural bodies and organisations of Thessaloniki and Greece. Now living in an environment with the consequences of the health crisis that the pandemic left in the last three years present everywhere, now faced with other types of crises, such as the climate or even wars, photography is the medium that captures the not so optimistic reality, at the same time creating occasions for lively and active thinking about hope for the future that already here.


Thessaloniki Photobiennale 2023 general coordination: Iro Katsaridou, Hercules Papaioannou