A new exhibition which focuses entirely on smartphone photography opened at contemporary art centre WIELS on 24th of May 2018. The #CityRenaissance project aims to translate the best Belgian photography found on photo-sharing platforms such as Instagram into immersive offline experiences, recognizing up-and-coming Belgian artistic talent in the process. This first exhibition of three showcases the work of amateur Belgian photographers who have partnered with Huawei, while a second exhibition planned for summer 2018 will focus on images submitted by the public as part of Huawei’s #CityRenaissance campaign.

Democratizing photography

For talented photographers, simply wandering the streets of their favourite places can prove a source of creative inspiration and result in intriguing images. But if those images are taken on a smartphone, their distribution often remains limited to photo-sharing platforms such as Instagram, instead of garnering wider recognition. That is what Huawei is aiming to change via its #CityRenaissance project hosted at WIELS.

Speaking about the partnership, Martine de Limburg Stirum, Head of Public Relations and Development at WIELS, said

“We are happy to welcome Huawei as a new partner that will further our education and mediation mission.”

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The exhibition reflects a wider democratization of photography as an art form, notes Jurgen Thysmans, spokesperson for Huawei Belgium. “Once you needed an expensive reflex camera and several lenses to take a good photo. Today the average smartphone has a camera with good enough image quality to do the same thing, enhanced by the power of AI and machine learning. Thanks to smartphones putting cameras into everyone’s hands, more pictures are being taken than ever before. This is transforming visual culture on a daily basis. The result? A creative renaissance we’re seeking to showcase through these three WIELS exhibitions.”

The #CityRenaissance exhibition, focused on smartphone photography, is free to visit until 15 June

Showcasing spontaneity

The first exhibition of this series features images which tell the story of life in and around the city. With four themes spread across different rooms within WIELS, the photos are varied, capturing unexpected moments, featuring minimal compositions or simply using black-and-white. The only  constant is that all the photos have been taken with a Huawei smartphone.

One of the photographers whose work is on display is Bouchta El Dib, a teacher from Brussels, whose images encapsulate his love for our capital. “I love photos that show life as it is. Spontaneous and un-posed. My smartphone is an ideal companion. Nobody gives you funny looks when you take out your smartphone on the street to take a few photos. This means you can move more freely than with a traditional camera. It also means you can capture unexpected moments where you might not have your camera to hand. It’s great to be able to count on your smartphone camera without having to compromise. ”
The expo will showcase the works of several Belgian photographers, such as
 Zahra Reismüller, David Crunelle, Aris Setya, Sebastien Nagy, Ruben Parthoens, Alexander Corlazzoli, Gekiere Shotz, Mathias Matteo, Anna Brekine, Christophe Staelens, Bouchta ElDib, Frederic-Paulussen, Jonathan Sommereyns, Lukas De Groodt, Thomas Lhoest, Dennis Nooten and Hans De Smedt.

Everyone can be a photographer

This exhibition takes a fresh look at some of Belgian’s best known cities. But it also shows the potential of smartphones when it comes to photography. It’s in that spirit that Huawei is encouraging everyone inspired by the work on show to roll up their sleeves and snap the best images of their own cities. The competition is open to anyone: just take a picture of your city with any smartphone, then post it publicly on your favourite photo-sharing platform using the #CityRenaissance hashtag. A jury of expert judges will review all entries and the best images will exhibited in WIELS during the next exhibition, from 26 July to 9 August. More information about the current exhibition and the public competition can be found on www.cityrenaissance.be .