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At Home in the Anthropocene Era

The theme for this year’s FORMAT17, the biennial photography festival in Derby, England, is habitat and its many meanings. In shows on view all over the city, more than 200 photographers explore landscape, environment, migration and ideas of home and displacement in the Anthropocene era, the proposed epoch that coincides with human impact on the Earth’s geology and ecosystems.

Among the shows are “Ahead still lies our future,” curated by Hester Keijser and Louise Clements and on view until June 11. In it, ten photographers explore “global imagined futures” and the impact of climate change. Among them are Ester Vonplon, whose series “Gletscherfahrt” documents the white cloths used to cover melting Swiss glaciers, protecting the ice on sunny days, a project she considers “a requiem for the glaciers.”

The festival also includes more that 50 projects from the FORMAT17 Open Call, selected from entries received from 68 countries. Judges included Simon Bainbridge of the British Journal of Photography; publisher Dewi Lewis; Fiona Rogers from Magnum Photos and founder of Firecracker; Erik Kessels, curator and director of KesselsKramer; Wang Baoguo from Chinese Photographer Magazine and Sheyi Bankale from Next Level magazine. Among the exhibitions is a two person show at Smallprint Company, on view until April 24, which pairs work by Finnish artist Miia Autio and Iranian artist Farhad Berahman, both of whom explore ideas about cultural memory. Autio photographs Rwandan refugees in Europe, pairing their portraits with landscapes that evoke the country they left behind. The project “considers the relationship between homeland, landscape, and identity while recognizing the subjectivity of memories,” she writes. Berahman constructs a replica of a traditional Shahre Farang, an Iranian version of a peep box, used as a form of entertainment by wandering storytellers in the last century. Through the small windows of the device, viewers are invited to consider images that represent “memories of Iranians now living in exile in the UK,” creating “an intimate yet nostalgic portrait of Iran made from afar.”

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