FotoWeek DC renews its local focus

October 31, 2013

Fotoweek DC has been around for six years now, and for nearly all of them, it has endured questioning from local photographers about its scope. The photography festival has simultaneously presented programming for local, national, and international audiences -- sometimes neglecting the former for the latter,  as locals have alleged. But that's changing this year: Founder Theo Adamstein is presenting FotoNOMA, a 25,000-square-foot exhibition space that focuses on local photography, organized by local collectives.

The unused office space, at 51 N St. NE, will host work from Strata Collective, Instant DC, the Pulitzer Center and several other local groups, with a mix of photojournalism, street photography and fine art. It will also be throwing its own opening party Saturday at 7 p.m. ($14), followed by an after-party at the Black Cat ($10).

"There were often only so many groups we could accommodate in the past spaces in previous years, and I thought it would be great to find a space where many local groups could be present in the festival," Adamstein said.

He found the space through the NoMa BID, which made it available for last month's FotoBazaar and again for FotoWeek this weekend. He also enlisted James Campbell of Instant DC -- who voiced skepticism of FotoWeek's local efforts in a Washington Post article last year -- to help organize the show.

"In past years what happened was, we would get the space, we would do everything ... with FotoNOMA, it's much more of a collaborative approach," Adamstein said. "There is assistance from all the participating groups, which really helps us."

FotoWeek kicks off tomorrow with a big opening party at National Geographic ($65), where it is mounting an outdoor exhibition, which will be free and open to the public from Saturday through the end of the festival. Other featured events include outdoor projections on the facade of the Holocaust Museum and the National Geographic 16th Street facade, as well as educational programming and exhibitions at local embassies. You can find a complete listing of events on the FotoWeek website.

"I think there's a stronger local focus than ever before," Adamstein said. "We're in a really good place right now."

Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts for the Weekend section and Going Out Guide.
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Fritz Hahn · October 31, 2013