Biennial Events Offer Month-Long Exposure to Photography

Photography is one of our more ubiquitous art forms. The average person might be able to go a week without seeing a dance or a sculpture, but photographs are everywhere. And it’s democratic. First, the handheld camera put both portrait and landscape within the layman’s reach. Now, camera phones and the Internet have turned average people into online exhibitors.

But it takes more than a picture to make a work of art. Throughout October, 55 museums, galleries and universities in Louisville, Lexington, Bardstown and Southern Indiana will host photography exhibits for the Louisville Photo Biennial, a month-long celebration of fine photography organized every other year since 1999. 

Paul Paletti is one of the organizers . He owns an eponymous art gallery that primarily exhibits museum-quality photographs, where an exhibit of Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer David C. Turnley’s photos of Nelson Mandela will be on display throughout the biennial. Paletti will also give a talk on collecting fine art photography on October 2. He says biennial events can help casual photography fans understand the difference between snapshots and art.

“Being exposed to a lot of really good photography, I think it helps people see the composition and the medium itself can speak volumes, and take something beyond mere depiction,” he says.

Digital technology has changed the discipline’s process, Paletti says, but the fundamentals of composition and the need to display the art keep it grounded in tradition.

“Traditional photography is light on chemistry, and digital is ink on paper,” he says. “So digital, in some ways, is closer to the print-making disciplines like intaglio and lithography, but it is still related to traditional photography because you’re still using a lens to create an image. “

The biennial opens next Tuesday. Some notable exhibits opening in Louisville include: 

See the full list of participating venues and events here. (In handy calendar format, too.) 

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