Photoville takes over Brooklyn Bridge Park with world-class photography

The seventh edition of Photoville officially opens to the public today, September 13, 2018

Photoville takes over Brooklyn Bridge Park with world-class photography

Brooklyn Heights
Cobble Hill
Beyond South Brooklyn

It may have been raining, but that didn't damper the preview opening of Photoville 2018 under the Brooklyn Bridge.

The individual galleries within shipping containers were little oasis, with the rain serving as an easy way to open conversations with the artists, who were more than happy to take advantage of the captive audiences.

I quickly found compelling collections and took advantage of the rainfall to have enlightening conversations about the artists and the stories they are presenting at Brooklyn's favorite photography exhibit.

This seventh edition of Photoville, which officially opens to the public today, September 13, 2018,  includes some heart rending looks into the Refugee experience.

“Through Our Eyes: The Personal Works of Syrian Youth in Azraq, Jordan” is a deeply moving exhibition, while standing in a replicate Azraq Refugee Camp home within a container in Brooklyn. Azraq town and the Azraq Refugee Camp together have 60,000 Syrian refugees, and almost 60% of refugees in the camp are under the age of 18, many having lived half their lives in a camp.

Still images, along with trinkets mentioned by the subjects in the descriptions, line a shelf beneath the simple, unframed portraits. The stories will bring tears to your eyes.


Mohammed is known as the "toymaker of Azraq." He is from Homs, Syria, where he lived on a small farm, making cheese and selling milk from his family's cow. He hs seven sons and seven daughters. Back home, he used to make toys for his nephews and fourteen children. When he arrived to Azraq refugee camp, he began making paper airplanes for the children there. Now he builds many kind of toys - dolls, little model homes, vehicles - all using refuse and other objects from the camp. His prized possession is this dollhouse-sized model of his home back in Syria, complete with a pink roof and a simple picket fence. He remembers this home, and the memories there and hopes to return to Syria one day.

In 2017, the Azraq Film School started with two Syrian youth refugee filmmakers, partnering with local and international film professionals to learn film techniques and storytelling. The exhibit at Photoville is a culmination of over 30 young filmmakers and storytelling enthusiasts creating their own independent stories that documented their lives, experiences, and hopes.

The fiction and documentary short films show the grief, hope, joy, and complex experiences of youth that, despite great loss and isolation, persevere. The organization, CARE launched the Azraq Film School in 2017 with fictional and documentary digital storytelling boot camps (July 2017 and October 2017). Care's workshops brought a film team from Hollywood which included Brandt Andersen (Lone Survivor), cinematographer Tobias Schiessler (Beauty and the Beast, 2017) and actors Jason Beghe (Chicago PD) and Shay Mitchell (Pretty Little Liars) who left behind all their gear so more films could be made.

Plan on spending at least 20 minutes viewing these moving films.

Another interesting story documents “Voyage à Dakar,” as Dutch photographer Judith Quax and her Dutch-Senegalese son, Noah, travel over land in the opposite direction of the migratory flow from Amsterdam to Dakar in Senegal: the land of Noah’s father and his Senegalese family.

“I dreamed about Senegal, Mama, so I can show you the way,” says Noah, an hour after their departure from Amsterdam. Guiding the way is the four-year-old's responsibility, something to hold on to during the journey. They surrender to being on the road, to the endless emptiness of the desert landscape that passes by.

The display is set up like a scrapbook of the journey, with hand written pages describing the scenes captured on their unique journey. Be sure to meet Noah, his exuberance as he plays within the container is infectious. You feel his energy within his mother's photographs.


Our favorite exhibits include:

THE WALL: a documentary project about Friendship Park, a stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border where families meet to share intimate moments through the metal fence that separates them. At the juncture of San Diego, California; and Tijuana, Mexico, the border wall’s rusting steel bars plunge into the sand, extending 300 feet into the Pacific Ocean, and casting a long and conflicting shadow. Griselda San Martin is the recipient of the 2018 FENCE Jury Choice Award where she was awarded a $5,000 Grant plus an exhibition at Photoville.

REFUGEE: Annenberg Space for Photography commissioned five internationally acclaimed artists—Lynsey Addario, Omar Victor Diop, Graciela Iturbide, Martin Schoeller, and Tom Stoddart—to create singular images that allow audiences to engage with the plight of refugees and to reflect on their distinct experiences of displacement.

BATTLES WON: For the second year, Marine photojournalists capture their fellow soldiers in training and at war with powerful images showing a behind the scenes look at our military. With so many of my friends in the military, it is one of my favorite exhibits.

DOCUMENTING CHINA, STORIES OF CHANGE: From the surprising fate of China’s shrinking cities, to the quiet resilience of young migrant women, this exhibition features long-term projects by Chinese visual storytellers, who examine a country that is constantly adapting and redefining itself.

KINGS & QUEENS: presents intimate portraits of fierce drag queens accompanied by their male half. Léon Hendrickx, an Amsterdam-based artist and photographer, found a specific way of portraying both persons in the same image, thereby showing how two characters, wrapped up in the same body, are intertwined.

NORTH SHORE: Gareth Smit's collection from the North Shore of Staten Island shows a microcosm of contemporary life in the United States, a place where the culture wars of our decade play out in the everyday lives of residents.


And don't forget NIGHTTIME IN THE BEER GARDEN, Photoville's unique outdoor slideshows and this year they feature a screening and discussion of the award-winning film Earthrise on Thursday, September 20, at 7:30PM.

Earthrise tells the story of the first image captured of the Earth from space in 1968. Told solely by the Apollo 8 astronauts, the film recounts their experiences and memories and explores the beauty, awe, and grandeur of the Earth against the blackness of space. This iconic image had a powerful impact on the astronauts and the world, offering a perspective that transcended national, political, and religious boundaries. Told 50 years later, Earthrise compels us to remember this shift and to reflect on the Earth as a shared home. The film features Apollo 8 astronauts Bill Anders, Frank Borman, and Jim Lovell.


Photoville is located in Brooklyn Bridge Plaza, on the corners of Water Street and New Dock Street. It is directly underneath the Brooklyn Bridge in DUMBO and bordered by Jane’s Carousel and St. Ann’s Warehouse.

The 2018 schedule:

Thursday September 13: Photoville OPENS FREE to the Public – 4pm – 10pm

Friday September 14: Opens 4pm – 10pm  + Photoshelter Professional Development Day 9am – 6pm

Saturday September 15: Opens 12pm – 10pm + Exhibitions, Talks, workshops, night time events

Sunday September 16: Opens 12pm – 9pm + Exhibitions, Talks, workshops, night time events

Thursday September 20: Opens 4pm – 10pm + Photoville Education Day (to register your students go to education page!)

Friday September 21: Opens 4pm – 10pm + Exhibitions opened with Night Time events

Saturday September 22: Opens 12pm – 10pm + Exhibitions, workshops, night time events

Sunday September 23: Opens 12pm – 9pm + Exhibitions, workshops, night time events