FotoFest 2012
A perfect storm

FotoFest by the numbers: International Biennial draws record attendance

FotoFest by the numbers: International Biennial draws record attendance

With the exception of a few remaining participating galleries, the 14th FotoFest International Biennial is pretty much behind us since the last of its main exhibits closed last Sunday.

Covering the breadth of Russian photography from the death of Joseph Stalin to the present has been no small task. In fact it's taken six weeks and three massive curated exhibitions just to scrape the surface of a corner of modern art relatively unknown to Western audiences.

Here's a quick look at the past month and a half of programming and events . . . through the magic of numbers.

4,000 revelers and 275,000 visitors

According to FotoFest spokesperson Vinod Hopson, the Biennial's always-popular opening night party drew an astounding 4,000 guests this year — a cool thousand more partiers than the 2010 launch party.

"Overall, the last six weeks have greatly exceeded our expectations," Hopson told CultureMap. "Judging from our early estimates, we're counting at least 275,000 total visitors."

400 collectors, 82 works and a 10% increase

On March 20, FotoFest’s celebrated International Fine Print Auction offered up 82 framed works donated by artists across the globe, including 30 noted Russian photographers like Oleg Dou, whose print sold for $17,000.

"Overall, the last six weeks have greatly exceeded our expectations," said FotoFest's  Vinod Hopson. "Judging from our early estimates, we're counting at least 275,000 total visitors."

Madeline Brophy of Heritage Auctions in Dallas oversaw the event, which brought out 400 collectors and eventually raised $366,500 for FotoFest's education outreach program Literacy Through Photography. In total, the event saw a 10% jump in dollars raised compared to the 2010 auction.

94 Russian nationals

Not only did the Biennial include 34 artists from the former Soviet Union, but it also drew 60 Russian dignitaries from some of the nation's leading institutions like the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, the Iris Art Foundation, Stella Art Foundation, ROSIZO, Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography, Photographer.ru, as well as the Russian Federation's Ministry of Culture. 

"Thanks to support from both Singapore Airlines and the city of Houston, we were able to secure travel arrangements for a large number of Russian artists and cultural leaders," Hopson noted. "It was really a perfect storm sponsorship this year."

500 artists and 165 reviewers

Easily one of the most popular aspects of the Biennial, FotoFest's portfolio review sessions are the artistic heartbeat of the event, providing photographers with one-on-one review sessions with arts professionals from around the world. This year, more than 500 artists met with 165 reviewers representing 31 cultural institutions, 26 publishing houses and magazines, 10 photo festivals, six agencies and two online platforms.

120+ gallery exhibits (10+ still on view)

The 2012 Biennial enjoyed more than 100 participating spaces, including a number of which are still showing FotoFest-branded exhibits like the Art Car Museum, the Menil Collection, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Museum of Contemporary Craft, Project Row Houses, De Santos Gallery, Heritage Society, the Station Museum, the Holocaust Museum, Hannah Bacol Busch, Gensler and the Museum of Printing History.

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Early estimates indicated that there were 275,000 visits to FotoFest exhibits. Around 10 exhibits at Houston's major museums remain on view. Photo by Chinh Phan
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The Biennial's always-popular opening night party drew an astounding 4,000 guests this year — a cool thousand more partiers than the 2010 launch party. Photo by Chinh Phan
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Courtesy of FotoFest