PhEST Associazione Culturale is a non profit cultural association that organizes an international festival of photography and art in Monopoli (Bari) since 2016.

PhEST - See Beyond the Sea.
"We are a great peninsula jutting into the Mediterranean sea and at times we forget about it."
Franco Cassano, Il pensiero meridiano, 1996

PhEST is photography, cinema, music, art, contaminations from the Mediterranean.
PhEST is born out of the need to give back a voice to the thousand identities that form the “sea within the lands”, the need to redefine a new, original imagery. The necessity is not to erase the distance that the Mediterranean creates among these identities, because this sea, in fact, creates them and blends them. The need is rather to stitch back together the divide between reality and its representation, beyond the theatre of truth, beyond that stage of the real that the West has often set up.

When the authors of this static imagery seem to get lost and waver, what emerges with clarity is the necessity to redefine, review everything in a non-absolute manner, in a continuously changing form. At a time when everything seems to deserve a new definition, we see the necessity to start from here, from the unsettling idea of re-writing the present over and over again.

The geographical focus zone, never limited but open to changes, expansion or zooming in, responds to the natural panorama the eyes perceive from here, from Monopoli and from the region Puglia: that is the Mediterranean, the Balkans, the Middle East, Africa and beyond.

Contemporary photography is the perfect means to trigger this reconstruction for many reasons. For the great fascination it plays on the public and for the unrest in which it lays. While we speak, it has already changed, it continuously changes. And those who redefine it are not the photographers, the academy, the publishers. It is rather the market, the technology and the users, the public itself. And thus, while we attempt to contain, preserve, and safeguard photography, its name has changed once again, already. So that those who should actually be the protagonists of this redefinition opt out, self-deceptively believing they are the ones who govern the changes.

We would like to be a small, new space where this dialogue can seek refuge. We believe that trying to redefine the borders of this rapidly changing universe, where avant-garde and fiction are blending with reality, where all breaks up to reunite again, can offer a deeper understanding.

This is the starting point, avoiding all dogma, and confiding in the infidelity of the sea.

PhEST entrusts the artistic direction to Giovanni Troilo and the photography curatorship to Arianna Rinaldo. PhEST is produced by the cultural association PhEST.

Legal form
Cultural Association

The main objective of PhEST is to accomplish PhEST, international festival of photography and art in Monopoli, an ambitious project that, like in the previous editions, contributes to foster cultural exchange, creates partnerships and collaborations among local and non-local cultural organizations, becomes an ideal instrument to create a bridge towards new audiences and contributes in including Monopoli and Puglia Region in an international, European network. The Third edition of PhEST aims to strengthen the success acquired during the first two editions of the festival, and wants to bring new ones for an important cultural planning that can be repeated in the future, favouring its growth in terms of visibility and audience, making the festival in Monopoli a regular event for photography and art enthusiasts, and the city hosting it a place of excellence of photographic and artistic research.

Main Activities

PhEST – international festival of photography and art in Monopoli, at its third edition, will take place from September 6th until November 4th 2018, through the following activities:

  • set-up of at least 12 photographic exhibitions in the most evocative spaces of the old town of Monopoli; the artists will be present during the inauguration days and will become protagonists of a festival.
  • Set-up of 1 exhibition of contemporary art curated by Fondazione Pino Pascali.

Along with the exhibitions, open to the public for the entire duration of the festival, the following extra-activities will be organized, always linked to the theme of the festival:

  1. TALKs AND ROUND TABLES Journalists, personalities and experts in photography, cinematography, arts and literature will be invited to discuss over topics linked to the exhibitions and to online publishing, blogs and social networks.
  2. PORTFOLIO REVIEWS Portfolio reviews in photography are meetings among professionals like publishers and photo editors with aspiring photographers presenting their portfolio. An ever-present activity in high level photography festivals and summoning a public of enthusiastic, aspiring photographers and professionals.
  3. SCREENINGS Organized in collaboration with local and international organizations.

4. ARTISTIC RESIDENCES Linked to commissioned projects focused on the local territory, the works produced during the residency will be integral part of the festival.


Main strengths of PhEST are the audience success observed during the first two editions of the festival and the cultural, commercial and touristic potential of Region Puglia that, thanks to its geographic position, has a strategic role on a cultural, economic and social level. Through the use of contemporary photography language, a network is being built in order to design an important online and offline communication plan and the creation of events of international appeal, creating economic development and weaving national and international networks.

Finance and Main Partners


Puglia Region

Municipality of Monopoli

Puglia Promozione





CIRCULATION(S) – Festival de la jeune photographie européenne

ORGAN VIDA, Zagreb, Croazia







Fondazione Pino Pascali – Polignano a Mare (BA)

CRAC Puglia – Centro di Ricerca Arte Contemporanea – Taranto

Bass Culture – Bari

FIAF – Federazione Italiana Associazioni Fotografiche

F.Project – Scuola di Fotografia e Cinematografia, Bari

BITUME, festival di fotografia a Lecce

diROCKato, festival di musica a Monopoli

Liceo artistico e musicale Luigi Russo, Monopoli



Sky Arts Italia