From the 6th of August to the 1st of November 2021 in Monopoli, Puglia | The VI edition of PhEST – See Beyond the Sea
The International Festival of Photography and Art is back
31 exhibitions of photography, contemporary art and street art
A special project on the territory commissioned to Mustafa Sabbagh
A Street Art performance with ERON and Danijel Žeželj on the wall of the Ex Deposito dei Carburanti
An exhibition in Cala Porta Vecchia on floating platforms and an underwater exhibition of Turroni’s scultures that can be visited with goggles while swimming

From the 6th to the 8th of August, three days of opening with guided tours with the artists, portfolio readings, talks, video screenings, laboratory, workshops and special events.
From the morning to the evening.
PHOTO: https://we.tl/t-2j4l0ayMMP
VIDEO: https://we.tl/t-XQxyJiu1Ba

The 6th of August sets the start of the VI edition of PhEST – See Beyond the Sea, the international festival of photography and art, that returns with its strength to go beyond the obstacle without ever losing one’s identity. The festival will animate the centre of Monopoli, of the Puglia region and of the Mediterranean, turning its gaze from here to the whole world.

The situation we are facing urges us to take back our lives, our places, our projects and our affections. The health emergency has certainly conditioned the planning of PhEST, we must therefore thank those who, among a thousand of difficulties, have put us in the position to “take back in hand” what is now one of the most awaited events of the Municipality of Monopoli and the Region of Puglia.

A VI edition that promises to be an unmissable one, with over 30 exhibitions set up in outdoor and indoor spaces and safe for everyone, in full compliance with Covid regulations.

All the works that have been carefully selected by the artistic director Giovanni Troilo and the photographic curator Arianna Rinaldo, will create an itinerary able to amaze the spectators and at the same time lead them to question and reflect on the theme chosen for this year: The Body. Our reality has been invaded, exhausted, marked by viruses, ghosts, distances and absences. In this historical time where everything is reconfigured to cope with this calamity, our bodies are also changing. If our lives have changed abruptly, our bodies must also have undergone profound transformations.  The evolutionary leap we are experiencing has forced us to come to terms with the immateriality of the network, the distance of bodies, the urgency of taking care of ourselves and the responsibility of looking after our social bodies. This awareness has been cultivated by opinion movements such as #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo and #DDLZan, but it is undeniable that it has increased exponentially with the pandemic.

“The theme of the body imagined a few years ago for this edition, has proved to be a particularly current topic – explain the artistic director Giovanni Troilo – The migration of bodies towards the immaterial world of the web, accelerated by the pandemic, has revealed the extreme fragility of the body itself, and also its necessity.  Man and body together again, inexorably. My body, ruthless dump, would say Foucault. A trap, a condemnation, but always a starting point for every exploration, for every utopia”.

From the 6th of August to the 1st of November, those who visit the historic centre of Monopoly will be able to enjoy the exhibitions of some of the most popular contemporary photographers, whose art will frame one of the most enchanting places in the Mediterranean. More than 30 international artists will fill the streets, the ancient buildings (and the eyes of the spectator) with their art. A QR code on the presentation panels of the installations will offer some extra content to the most curious. The ancient Palazzo Palmieri, the late baroque pearl of the city, will host some of the main exhibitions of the event. But there are many other places that will be inhabited by the artists’ creativity: the deconsecrated church of SS Pietro e Paolo, the small church of San Salvatore, the lovely Piazzetta Santa Maria, the Margherita Pier, the breakwaters on the Santa Maria promenade,  the skate park area, the Belvedere and the small island of Cala Porta Vecchia, the ancient wall and Porto Vecchio, which will host Corpus Fugit, a special annual project dedicated to the body, commissioned by the Italo-Palestinian artist Mustafa Sabbagh.  And again, the crystal clear waters of Cala Porta Vecchia with an exhibition on floating platforms and an original installation on the seabed.

In addition to Palazzo Palmieri, the official seat of the ticket office, the Tourist Info Point in Piazzetta Garibaldi also provides updates on exhibitions, exclusive gadgets and recommended routes. Moreover, if you are afraid of getting lost, you do not have to worry. All around the city there will be road signs, both horizontal and vertical, with the yellow PhEST indicating to visitors the direction to follow in order not to miss any of the exhibitions and the right distance to maintain to enjoy their vision safely in compliance with the anti-Covid19 regulations.


During the three days of inauguration, from the 6th to the 8th of August, do not miss the distanced guided tours with some of the artists who have expressed the desire to meet their public, and several special events: portfolio reviews, workshops, talks and round tables, video screenings and METAMOR, the spectacular street art intervention by Eron and Danijel Žeželj on the walls of the Ex Deposito dei Carburanti.

Like every year, the portfolio readings, all free of charge, will be held on Saturday the 7th and Sunday the 8th, under the sky in the hallway of Palazzo Palmieri. This year’s guests will be renowned photo editors such as Erik Vroons from GUP magazine, Elisa Medde from FOAM, Maurizio Beucci from Leica Akademie Italy, Luigi Vernieri from IED, Claudio Composti from mc2 Gallery, Federica Berzioli and Michela Frontino from Il fotografo.

On Saturday and Sunday at 7.30 p.m. there will be talks by Maurizio Beucci of Leica Akademie Italy on the personal photography of William Eggleston, by Elisa Medde who will tell us about FOAM magazine and by Sanne de Wilde with a talk on the Body. Both days will be followed by open-air video screenings at Largo Palmieri, with exclusive content of the international partners LensCulture and GUP, the #ReunionCalling and the PhEST Pop Up Open Call, a selection of SKY Arte documentaries such as the one from the series Fotografi about Mustafa Sabbagh and the new docuseries Le fotografe dedicated to Simona Ghizzoni – Tutto Parla Di Me. As well as a selection of episodes from the docuseries Why do we dance? (Dance – Perché balliamo): “Storie” and “Identità”.

For those who would like to take part in workshop opportunities, PhEST proposes Humanæ – Self-portrait workshop, the photographic work in progress by the artist Angélica Dass: an unusually direct reflection on skin colour combined with the Pantone® industrial pallet that questions the contradictions and stereotypes linked to the issue of race (on Saturday the 8th at 5 pm under the sky in the cloister of the Church of SS. Pietro e Paolo).

Instead, Superfotocolla is a workshop, conceived and developed by Roberto Boccaccino and Minimum Studio for children aged 10 to 12, which uses the photographic portrait as a tool for creativity.  Three days of meetings (Friday, Saturday and Sunday starting at 4 p.m.) that will end with an exhibition entirely self-produced by the children at the Rendella Library.

The PhEST Project – the international festival of photography and art in Monopoli – VI Edition is carried out by the cultural association PhEST, within the framework of the “FSC 14-20: AGREEMENT FOR PUGLIA. INTERVENTIONS FOR THE PROTECTION AND ENHANCEMENT OF CULTURAL HERITAGE AND THE PROMOTION OF INTANGIBLE HERITAGE. WE LOOK AFTER CULTURE IN PUGLIA 2021 – Development measures for entertainment and cultural activities”. Once again, this year the Festival has received the support of the Municipality of Monopoli and the recognition of numerous institutional bodies, starting with PugliaPromozione, Fondazione Apulia Film Commission, Autorità di Sistema Portuale del Mare Adriatico Meridionale and Politecnico di Bari. And then there are the private sponsors, Tormaresca, Volkswagen Zentrum Bari; Torre Coccaro, Acqua Orsini, Hevo, BCC Alberobello; the cultural partnerships of LensCulture, GUP, Fondazione De Mitri, Sartoria, PHmuseum, Leica Akademie Italy, FIAF, Circulation(s), Il fotografo, Mneo, Camera service, PLD Artech; the media partnership of Sky Arte HD. PhEST’s partners are also: ASP Romanelli Palmieri, Palazzo Fizzarotti – Fondazione HEART, Associazione Minimum, Polo liceale di Monopoli, Istituto Compensivo Melvin Jones – Orazio Comes, Kublaiklan, SOUxOSTUNI – Officine Tamborrino, Associazione OTM, Dirockato, Kambusa, Gozzovigliando. Technical sponsors: Pubblicità & Stampa, Santa Maria 24, Torre Cintola, EPC Srl.

PhEST is photography, cinema, music, art, contaminations from the Mediterranean. It comes from the need to try to give back a voice of its own to the thousands of identities that compose the sea between the lands, and to redefine a new imaginary. The geographical area of interest, never really limiting and always ready to change, to extend, and to focus, corresponds to the natural overview of that look from here, from Monopoli, from Puglia: the Mediterranean, the Balkans, the Middle East, Africa and beyond.


The Italo-Palestinian photographer Mustafa Sabbagh will be present at PhEST with the exhibition Onore al nero (Palazzo Palmieri), in addition to the commissioned project Corpus Fugit (Porto Vecchio) carried out during the artist’s sojourn in Monopoli.

The series of shots entitled Onore al Nero (Honour to the Black) aims at overcoming the negative symbolism usually associated with this colour, generated by the fusion of the entire spectrum, which absorbs every light frequency. Black, sublimated, thus becomes an emblem of acceptance and forgiveness of the original sin that all human beings share. The images, in a perfect balance between reality and fiction, are a hymn to imperfection and to the obsessions that art makes flourish by amplifying them in the form of universal questions.

Moreover, during the resident working week, Sabbagh photographed local and non-local teenagers who spend time in the area near the Porta Vecchia skate park. Young people were portrayed with the sea in the background wearing the costumes of their parents and grandparents in order to “try to put themselves in someone else’s shoes”. Although the work was carried out on the territory, they transcend place and space responding to the need to be ‘individuals’ without prejudice or homologation, as suggested by the widespread consumerist symbol.

There is also Humanæ, an ongoing photographic project by the award-winning Brazilian artist Angélica Dass on display on the ancient Muraglia di Portavecchia (Portavecchia Wall): an unusually direct reflection on skin colour, which attempts to document the true colours that distinguish Humanity rather than the false labels of “white”, “red”, “black” and “yellow” associated with different races. It is a project “in progress” that aims to demonstrate that what really defines the human being is his inescapable uniqueness and, therefore, his specificity.

American artist Alicia Eggert‘s contemporary art project You Are (on) An Island is set up on the small island in Cala Porta Vecchia. The message of this neon sign is animated by the word “on” which flashes at fixed intervals, transforming an initially obvious statement into a reflective and philosophical investigation.

Two large oval-shaped masses are put on the seabed. They are stylized faces with female features in a silent, archaic dialogue, almost crystallized in the fossil material of the sculpture. This is the Muse Silenti (Silent Muses) project by the artist Erich Turroni, which can be found at the bottom of the sea in the evocative underwater exhibit at Cala Porta Vecchia. Born in Cesena in 1976, Turroni lives and works in Gambettola (FC). His artistic research on sculpture and painting is characterized by the use of materials and techniques of synthetic and industrial origin, from polyester to fiberglass and other plastic materials. Both these exhibitions are curated by Roberto Lacarbonara, as those of Roberto Pugliese, Equilibrium Variant, and Tomaso Binga (aka Bianca Pucciarelli) Alfabeto poetico monumentale (described in the following pages).

Tadao Cern (Lithuania, 1983) currently lives and works in Vilnius. After graduating in architecture, he became interested in photography and other artistic media. In Monopoli he will display Comfort Zone, a marine exhibition on floating platforms (Cala Porta Vecchia) realized on the beaches, a place where, according to the artist, human beings can be observed under a microscope and their culture and habits can be studied.

At the skate park returns an old PhEST acquaintance, after having already created a special project two years ago. We are talking about Sanne De Wilde with The Island of the Colorblind. The Island of the Colorblind comprehends three types of images: ‘normal’ black-and-white digital photos, infrared images and photo-images. Together they form some metaphorical attempts to display the way colour-blind people see the world.

The Italian photographer based in Barcelona Paola de Grenet (Milan, 1971), specialized in portraiture and reportage, will display on the Belvedere of Porta Vecchia, Albino Beauty: portraits of people with albinism who celebrate a beauty of distinct canons and want to eliminate the stigmas sometimes associated with diversity. Their pale and delicate appearance and at the same time their minority status reflect like a mirror Paola de Grenet’s idea of sublime beauty. It is a story of struggle between silence and passion, between pleasure and pain.

There are two works by the Japanese artist Haruhiko Kawaguchi, alias Photographer Hal: Flesh Love All (in the Church of San Salvatore) and Flesh Love Returns (on the Santa Maria promenade). Starting from the assumption that the whole world is based on love, the artist has launched a project to vacuum-pack various couples and the environments and landscapes around them. Not only couples who love each other, but also everything around them is vacuum-packed. All the things they love will become one, and the world will be one.

On the Santa Maria promenade, we find Hidden Motherhood by Alena Zhandarova, a young Russian artist whose work on children and mothers stems from the Victorian era in which children were often photographed next to their mothers, with these latter ones covered as if they were not worthy of attention, especially when compared to their child. It is almost as if they are transformed into a set of functions and they are waiting to wake up and show their faces again. But, who will decide when it is time, and whose hand will reveal their faces?

Moving towards the Castello and the Porto Vecchio, at the beginning of the Margherita Pier, set up by the sea, there will be Weathering Time by visual artist Nancy Floyd, selected among the participants of the PHmuseum Photography Grant 2021, who uses photography and video to address the ways in which the image can connect deeply with experience and memory. A visual calendar of over 2,500 photographs, the first dating from 1982, that tells us about the artist’s youth and the beginning of her maturity with images that reflect the experiences of her generation and highlight the cultural, technological and physical changes that have occurred over the last thirty-nine years.

At the Ex Deposito dei Carburanti is still going on the performance by street artists Eron and Danijel Žeželj that are in artistic residence for PhEST2021. The title of the work is METAMOR, a dance long more than 200 metres representing the cycle of life.

The journey continues with the prophetic scenarios of Philip Toledano in his Maybe (deconsecrated Church SS. Pietro e Paolo), a project born after the sudden death of his mother in 2006 that led the artist to reflect on the future, which had suddenly become frightening. Therefore, he began to take acting lessons to learn how to move like an old man of 90 or a robust man of 55. Working together with a prosthetic expert, he created images based on his research. And something extraordinary happened.

In Largo Palmieri there is a space for the Kublaiklan x fontanesi collective, an anonymous Instagram account with more than 60,000 followers and 3,000 published images, which transfers the @fontanesi project from a virtual plane to a public space, focusing on the body. Each image is made up of several photos, cut up and then assembled together, giving life to a collection of visual combinations that invent a new everyday “to show reality as it is”.

At Palazzo Palmieri there will be 13 exhibitions divided between the hallway, the first and the second floor.

Here can be found 10 triptychs from the series Ritratti reali (Real Portraits) by Mario Cresci: this is part of the project “L’Italia dei fotografi. 24 Storie d’autore” curated by Denis Curti and held at M9-Museo del 900 in Venice from the 22nd of December 2018 to the 16th of June 2019. “According to a narrative scheme characterized by a narrowing of the visual and semantic field (from an image of people within their environments to one of their hands), Cresci highlights the role of photographs as images/objects provided with a social biography that unfolds over time. These photographs are capable, through their interaction with men and women, of reactivating the identity mechanisms of history and memory.”

In the same place, there is Eliška Sky, a Czech artist and art director who uses the medium of photography to capture different forms of beauty according to her surreal vision. Her project Womaneroes challenges the vision of the woman’s body and offers new ways of interpreting femininity: women who are not afraid to show their bodies in a playful way, with irony and lightness, in contrast with the advertising style proposed by the Western media.

With Alfabeto poetico monumentale (Monumental Poetic Alphabet), Tomaso Binga, Bianca Pucciarelli’s alter ego, calls into question, in the mid-1970s, the aesthetic, social and cultural models through which the female body was regularly represented and exhibited. A body that now becomes a letter, a language, a word, thus assuming the dignity of writing and of the message, without bowing to the symbolic construction of an exclusively phallocentric imaginary, as in the use of advertising images.

Roberto Pugliese, a Neapolitan living in Bari, moves his research between sound art and kinetic/programmed art. Using mechanical devices and software for interactions between the man, the environment and the machine. His works investigate formal and aesthetic phenomena linked to sound, acoustic and visual processes and connections between natural and artificial dimensions. In Equilibrium Variant, he addresses an acoustic phenomenon in the context of cybernetics: this makes movements extremely harmonious and natural and the arms take on behavioural characteristics that can be traced back to living organisms, such as those of two animals courting or duelling. The system is thus transformed into a biomechanical organism that lives a life on its own and reacts to external conditions.

On other technological issues, the powerful Capture by Paolo Cirio, who alerts us on use and abuse of facial recognition techniques.

Furthermore, there is I Want to Believe, the ucronic project by photographer David Vintiner and writer Gem Fletcher. Transhumanism is the belief that humans are destined to transcend their mortal flesh through technology. Although these ideas have long lived in the pages of comic books and science fiction novels, this movement, which is now a reality, is beginning to significantly disturb industry and individuals. Humans are now Gods. We are now able to create and design our own personal evolution, but do we also have the foresight to do it right?

The Chinese photographer and writer Yufan Lu will present her Make Me Beautiful, based on an analysis of data showing that more than 20 million people in China have undergone cosmetic surgery and that this number is constantly rising. The artist has decided to use photography to explore the mechanisms behind this phenomenon and as a therapeutic tool against self-body shaming (the tendency to denigrate and to feel shame for one’s own body).

Palazzo Palmieri will also host Uncanny, a collection of surprising 3D videos by Esteban Diácono, a motion graphics designer from Buenos Aires, Argentina, which features animations between the absurd and the surreal investigating the deepest fears of the human soul.

In the series State of Identity, the Dutch artist Milan Gies portrays people who are searching for their gender identity and going through a phase of physical transition. In search of an answer, the artist respectfully records the doubts and uncertainties of these young people as they literally and metaphorically expose themselves for the first time. In doing so, he removes them from their everyday lives and photographs them in a monochromatic environment. Milan Gies’ work consists mainly of portrait and sculptural studies. He is fascinated by the ‘narrative body’, the way experiences, pain and complexity leave their mark.

And again, Piero Percoco with the Furia project, with the art direction of Paola Nerilli, presents an original installation on a dining table for the launch of the Tormaresca rosé. An idea that comes from the desire to leave behind the dark times of a pandemic winter and to return outdoors in order to enjoy the wonderful colours and the multiple flavours whose abundance exceeds our needs. Moreover, to try to rediscover the taste of a carefree and forgotten conviviality to be experienced in reassuring rural settings, far from those urban spaces in which we have been forced to isolate ourselves for too long.

And at Palazzo Palmieri there is also #ReunionCalling, born last spring, when PhEST decided to try at least virtually to reunite, to keep together people that have been separated by the pandemic, through a social photo-call to collect images in which, with different types of “collage”, participants were asked to give life to possible and desired reunions.  An idea born from a story that began in Tricarico (Matera) at the end of the 1960s when Mario Cresci, with a commission related to the town’s urban development plan, entered the homes of local families to take their portraits: “Ritratti Reali”, also on show at PhEST2021. With a creative gesture that is both cathartic and nostalgic, #ReunionCalling tells stories of future, imagined and imaginary reunions. More than 400 images of reunions were shared on Instagram and Facebook with the hashtag #ReunionCalling and thus became a modern postcard travelling the web, capable not only of alleviating the time of waiting, but also of making smile everyone who came across that message, never so universally shared as in this pandemic. 33 images have been chosen for the exhibition at PhEST 2021.

Lastly, Palazzo Palmieri will also host the exhibitions of the winner resident in Puglia and the international winner of this year’s Pop-Up Open Call, always on the theme of the Body, organized in partnership with LensCulture and in collaboration with Leica Akademie Italy.

A selection of the finalists’ works will give life to the PhEST Pop-Up Open Call exhibition on the breakwaters below the Santa Maria promenade. Addressed to all the artists working with any medium and artistic language (from photography to illustration and moving image), the call has gathered more than 500 projects, for a total of 5000 images, from 56 countries from all over the world, exploring the Body in all its meanings through a deep and intimate look.

A selfie station will be set up in Piazzetta Santa Maria to welcome anyone who wants to (self-)take a photo of themselves in the act of kissing. Paraphrasing a famous French slogan (editor’s note), for PhEST “every kiss is a life that resumes” and with the interactive project Kiss! all visitors are invited to take a photo of a kiss and share it on social networks with the hashtag #KissForPhEST. A portable printer will transform the shot from digital to real, creating a small paper Polaroid to bring with you. From the real to the digital and then back to the real again: the kiss becomes a shared gesture and a wish that may never be missed (again). Hugging, shaking hands, kissing. These are some of the many simple gestures we had to give up. Yes, above all, kisses have been missing: the tender ones from grandparents, the sincere affection of friends, and even those of love, take briefly into the streets.

In conclusion, a walk of just under 10 minutes will take you to a brand new exhibition space of about 400 square metres in the Ex Deposito dei Carburanti, which will host the exhibition on the first 5 years of PhEST.

Useful information


From August 7th to November 1st



The access to indoor exhibitions will be allowed only to the holders of a Green Pass.

Indoor exhibitions unfortunately have access restrictions for the disabled.

Palazzo Palmieri: 13 EXHIBITIONS

10 am – 1 pm | 5 pm – 9 pm

10 am – 1 pm | 5 pm – 10 pm Saturday and Sunday

Closed on Mondays


Church of SS. Pietro e Paolo: 1 EXHIBITION

10 am – 1 pm | 5 pm – 9 pm

10 am – 1 pm | 5 pm – 10 pm Saturday and Sunday

Closed on Mondays


Church of San Salvatore: 1 EXHIBITION

10 am – 1 pm | 5 pm – 9 pm

10 am – 1 pm | 5 pm – 10 pm Saturday and Sunday

Closed on Mondays



Valid until November 1st 2021


REDUCED TICKET: 4 EURO – Groups of 10 people, students, FIAF members, residents of the Municipality of Monopoli

SCHOOLS: From September 20th to November 1st – Booking: info@phest.it – 2€ per student including guided tour

FREE ADMISSION: Under 14s and journalists with press ID (by contacting info@milaufficistampa.it)

With the support of


And of

Municipality of Monopoli


PugliaPromozione, Fondazione Apulia Film Commission, Politecnico di Bari and Autorità di Sistema Portuale del Mare Adriatico Meridionale

Main Sponsors

Tormaresca, Volkswagen Zentrum Bari


Torre Coccaro, Acqua Orsini, Hevo, BCC Alberobello

Cultural partnerships

LensCulture, GUP, Fondazione De Mitri, Sartoria, PHMuseum, Leica Akademie Italy, FIAF, Circulation(s), Il fotografo, Mneo, Camera service, PLD Artech

Media Partner

Sky Arte HD


ASP Romanelli Palmieri, Palazzo Fizzarotti – Fondazione HEART, Associazione Minimum, Polo liceale di Monopoli, Istituto Compensivo Melvin Jones – Orazio Comes, Kublaiklan, SOUxOstuni – Officine Tamborrino, Associazione OTM, Dirockato, Kambusa, Gozzovigliando

Technical sponsors

Advertising & Press, Santa Maria 24, Torre Cintola, EPC Srl

For info: www.phest.it

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