The 2019 Festival of Political Photography explores the capacity for collective imagination and the potential for action. It opposes the notion that one cannot influence issues, even though, with climate change, loss of biodiversity, and the rise of racism, misogyny and the extreme right, it is easy to dismiss talk about imagination, hope and alternative possibilities as escapism.

The festival highlights photography projects that deal with smaller and larger changes, as well as alternative mindsets and lifestyles. Changes can be personal lifestyle choices, or they may aim for a more comprehensive reform of the structures of society or economic power. The projects suggest an ethical imagination, which enables us to question existing structures. Hope is a state of mind that enables us to imagine the world as it should be, and not as we are made to believe it is.

Photographs never simply represent things or people, but the information they convey is a complex combination of possibilities, circumstances, viewing and showing conventions, power, subordination and empathy. Viewers are also required to have an ethical understanding that they are not outside the circumstances that made the photography and the photograph possible. Viewers are required to interpret, combine facts and – above all – imagine.

The photographers, artists and other creators of the 2019 Festival of Political Photography are: Laia Abril, Darya Apakhonchich, Airin Bahmani, Aslan Gaisumov, Pekka Elomaa and the Lyhty Workshop, Touko Hujanen, Ella Kiviniemi & Linda Manner, Patrik Rastenberger & Sergio Prudant, Sanni Seppo & Ritva Kovalainen & Ville Tanttu, Kurt Tong, and the curators of The Winds of exhibition, Nayab Ikram and Ramina Habibollah, and the artists Baran Caginli, Jeannette Ehlers, Mi Tjio and Uwa Iduozee.

Extending beyond the Finnish Museum of Photography, the 2019 Festival of Political Photography will feature exhibitions and other events at Stoa cultural centre and Pertti's Choice Outsider Art Gallery.

The festival would like to thank its supporters and partners: the City of Helsinki, Co-operative Tradeka, the Patricia Seppälä Foundation, Pertti's Choice Outsider Art Gallery, Stoa, the Finnish Cultural Foundation, the Finnish Museum of Photography, and the Academy of Fine Arts of the University of the Arts Helsinki.