Looking for America – Diffusion: Cardiff International Festival of Photography returns


Diffusion, the international photography biennale organised by Cardiff’s Ffotogallery is currently in full swing, hosting group shows, talks and photography-related events around the city for the entire month of October.

The theme, Looking for America, was announced back in May 2013, on the last day of the previous edition. Despite the continuous barrage of American imagery, David Drake (director of Ffotogallery and curator of the festival) says that the theme is as pertinent as ever.

From Stateside © Matt Wilson“I was interested in the strange paradox that from outside of America there was still an allure around Americana and a lot of the things that become representative of the American Dream. But within America there was a sense of corrosion, that everything had gone wrong.

The inside perspective on America was quite dark and dystopian whereas from a European perspective America was still the promised land, a land of opportunity. I thought that we could have quite a lot of fun exploring those notions through the festival.”

The festival spans several sites around the city, in an effort to engage both serious photography lovers and a broader audience. The empty storefronts on Wood Street, a central area earmarked for regeneration have been repurposed into accessible gallery spaces.

The Abacus art space has been taken over by The Caravan Gallery, the mobile exhibition venue and visual arts project run by artists Jan Williams and Chris Teasdale. Constantly grappling with what they call “local distinctiveness and regional identity” with a mischievous sense of the surreal, they’ve set up an “art exhibition-cum-alternative visitor information centre” to explore the many facets of Cardiff.

Also on Wood Street is As It was Give(n) to Me, Stacy Kranitz’s installation exploring the former mining communities of Appalachia. The hard-edged images are leavened by historical maps, folk artefacts and found objects that allow for a more textured expression of post-industrial decline.