BredaPhoto is an excellent biannual international photo festival that brings the best of contemporary photography to the Dutch town of Breda. In all, over 70 international photographers are featured in 25 citywide exhibitions, indoors and out.

The art directors and curators of this year’s festival (Reinout van den Bergh, Jan Schaerlackens and Geert van Eyckhave) have done an exquisite job of selecting and grouping photographers throughout inspired installations throughout the city. Indeed, as soon as a visitor arrives at Breda’s bustling train station, it is clear that the festival is big, lively, important and open to all.

This year’s festival has a theme that is wide open to interpretation: “YOU.” Internationally renowned artists and a new generation of photographers are exhibited side by side creating intriguing visual dialogues that riff on the multifaceted theme — from celebrating quirky DIY movements and moments, to exploring the realities of self-reliant individuals, and “ordinary” people seeking to distinguish themselves in an increasingly connected and globalized world. The exhibition encompasses views on homelessness and refugees and orphans, as well as the uber-rich and powerful.

Some very serious documentary and investigative photojournalism is balanced by fun and whimsical work, and each photographer’s work is presented with curatorial care and finesse. The juxtapositions of photographic subjects and styles encourages the festival visitors to draw interesting emotional and intellectual connections while viewing the truly international scope of photography on display.

Billboard-size installations fill a large plaza in the center of Breda, juxtaposing images from back-alleys in Hong Kong (by Michael Wolf in this instance) with ultramodern Dutch architecture.

Museum exhibitions allow for deep and extended presentations of large bodies of work.

Passersby are confronted with photography throughout the city.

An exhibition on human loneliness is clustered together under trees by the banks of the river.

Just a few of the many highlights include the Belgian Magnum photographer Carl De Keyzer, who presents the first museum exhibition of his latest project “Cuba La Lucha” at BredaPhoto. “Cuba La Lucha” portrays the ongoing transition from a communist to a capitalist Cuba. In addition, Dutch photographers Jaap Scheeren and Coralie Vogelaar reflect on the concept of the “free state” and surveillance in their photographic installations at MOTI, the Museum of the Image. Finally, five photographers from five different continents—Baudouin Mouanda, Bryan Schutmaat, Alejandro Cegarra, Yannis Kontos and Jia Dai Tengfei—present work on the impact of government withdrawal of social programs and humanitarian aid in their countries. This is part of a larger project titled “The Absent State,” a collaboration between BredaPhoto and World Press Photo.

All in all, this festival is highly recommended!

—Jim Casper

Editors’ Note: The festival will run
until October 30th, 2016. Check the website and excellent catalog to discover 70 outspoken photographers, both Dutch and from abroad whose work is exhibited outdoors and in art centers around town.