Diffusion and disappearance are both gentle movements, often hardly noticeable. Nothing concrete is happening, it is going on slowly, not quite to the end and it continues. They are processes which often complement each other. Diffusion/Disappearance is the motto of the 6th Opole Festival of Photography.
The programme of this year’s festival includes exhibitions which focus on man’s issues, his associates with other man, with the space and memory. They are stories of relations and their dynamism, actually of these leading diffusion and disappearance. Sometimes blurred and difficult to define. What is more, in terms of the form, they can be found on the borders of genres, making them disappear.
Certainly, the most important presentation of this year’s edition of the OFFoto is the exhibition of Zofia Rydet’s monumental Sociological Record project, including some thousands of photographic negatives. Realised by Zofia Rydet from 1978 up to almost the end of her life, it permanently astonishes and impresses. It is so monumental, that can’t be shown as a whole during one exhibition, though any selection is extremely difficult. Zofia Rydet used to visit the inhabitants in their homes and portrait them sitting in their most representative place in their house. As the result, we have a picture of everyday life and thousands of faces. On one hand, they are common, repeatable and similar, on the other one – wonderfully different in outfits, poses, surroundings and decoration. The title suggests research material. So does Rydet’s approach – methodological and typological. However, the result of Sociological Record seems scientifically elusive. There are no clear classifications and divisions, no definitions and standards. There is man and his relationships.
Karolina Jonderko (doc! #1 & #18) used a very similar approach. Her Lost project consists of specific portraits of rooms belonging to the people, who haven’t come back to their places. They went to their jobs, schools, walks or shopping, leaving their rooms just for a while. Their beloved keep their spaces for them, hoping that one day their missing will come back to them. Jonderko took pictures of 15 rooms throughout Poland. She illustrated the history of the missing persons, determination of the loved ones, and the slow process of disappearance under the pressure of everyday life.
Maksymilian Rigamonti (doc! #1) in his Places that Do Not Exist project also focuses on memory and inevitability of its disappearing. He tries to find out how much one can learn about the old events just by looking at the space. His photographic travels to the Volhynia also use to listen to human stories. They are about everyday life that penetrated history and pushed it aside. We can see it taking over the space. Just a reflection on the frailty of human memory.
In turn, Spring, which Didn’t Bloom by Maciej Moskwa (doc! #12 & #32) is a story about quite recent events. Moskwa tells about Syria’s everyday life – from the beginning of the Arab Spring up to the present refugee exodus. He shows the literal disappearing of the world and how ordinary people deal with it.
A method, repeatedly proven in history of photography, is a record for remembering. Although it can’t replace our memory and is subjective, it still protects from disappearing, forgetting. Both, Paweł Frenczak (Noir) and Małgorzata Sajur (DEBUTS 2015; My Anxieties), record their own personal stories of their own everyday life. Another method is an attempt to reconstruct events from memory. Their repetition leaves ever-lasting record of photographic image. This is the method used by the winner of the Show up contest – Piotr Pardiak (Heritage).
The passage of time is the primary motive of the First Haircut exhibition. Michał Stolarski and Tomasz Liboska are reconstructing their memories from their youth. They invited Dominik and Marek to play their stories that took place 20 years before. “We are trying to recall everything that is possible: real places, details, gestures. We have to improvise. Lots of the places we remember either don’t exist any more or changed their character. Our memories are not the same as they used to be either,” – they say. Intertwining worlds of actors and authors, fading of memories, giving way to changes and yet it is all going on at the document happening today.
In many single photographs as well as in full stories and exhibitions of this years’s edition of the OFFoto we will find this intertwining of worlds, memories, reflexions on disappearing. Actually that is the purpose of photography. A photo is a trace of a certain event, authentic one or created. If authentic one – it is still subjective and as such it can be remembered in a different way by somebody standing just some centimetres away. The leading motto doesn’t explain the sense of every presentation literally and accurately, but, as usual, encourages to find one’s own interpretations and add their own stories and associations.
More info and detailed programme @ www.offoto.pl (website in Polish language version only).
6th Opole Festival of Photography
September 29 – November 13, 2016
The 6th Opole Festival of Photography is organised under doc! photo magazine patronage.
Use of light seems to be the most common topic of photographic textbooks, both for beginners and professionals. Light, in all its forms, appears in titles of innumerable exhibitions and often also pops up in headlines of educational articles on the history of photography. In most cases, however, the discourse on light is limited to showcasing ways of “taming” it, i.e. to its practical and technical aspects. The perception of the formal and artistic problems is usually lopsided. All of this often leads to the trivialisation of the question of light.
With the Lux exhibition, the Archeology of Photography Foundation continues the theme of projects based on collaborations with contemporary artists, which aim at theoretical reflections on important issues for the history of photography and research practices. In the first ever presentation of these pictures, film, and an installation, the artists engage with various aspects relating to light and its relationship with the ontological essence of photography.
Photophobia, the film by Karolina Breguła, a versatile multimedia artist, is a dark, metaphorical story about the fear of darkness. Its protagonist compulsively collects light bulbs in an attempt to limit the liberty of her fellow district residents.
Przemek Dzienis is mainly known for his witty photographs of people in relation to objects and space. This time around, he starts with the physical nature of light and explores its transformations and colour perception. In an effort to create an illusion of light effects, he applies modern printing techniques.
For Magda Hueckel, the author of the acclaimed book Anima: Images from Africa, light is a symbol of healing and recovering from an illness. In this way, the artist tries to make reference to the history of photography, as well as to the broader context of the presence of light in culture.
One of the artists who continue to revisit the problem of light is Szymon Rogiński, whose works such as UFO Project or the Blackness series, focusing on the lack of light, have permanently established themselves in the canon of contemporary Polish photography. The author focuses on the registration of light phenomena, applying, among others, the process of solarisation, which takes place as a result of intensive exposure of a light-sensitive material.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a book under the same title, which will be launched during the closing reception. It continues the series inaugurated with Emulsion (2015), which focuses on the material aspects of photography. Lux features contemporary and archival works dedicated to light as well as commentary from the perspective of physics and research articles.
Karolina Breguła, Przemek Dzienis, Magda Hueckel & Szymon Rogiński – LUX
@ Gallery of the Archeology of Photography Foundation (13 Gen Władysława Andersa St., Warsaw, Poland)
Grand opening: September 23 at 5.00 PM
The exhibition will be open between September 24 and October 14, 2016
Andrzej Wiktor’s photographs’ characters are knights, Vikings, shooters, hussars, masters of the sword with ladyloves, craftsmen. They all share one passion – possibly the most faithful reproduction of ancient times. Wiktor’s photographs are well-thought portraits of people dressed in costumes from the past, without styling and fiction. The artist gives them particular dimension and depth.
Contemporary knights are a large group of enthusiasts who participate in celebrations of different historic events and also arrange various historical happenings. Often associated only with fun and masquerade, they are the people of great knowledge and sports skills like fencing, archery and horse riding. These people are endowed with the passion which often combines their professional life with hobby. They collaborate with curators, organisers of anniversary events, directors and many others.
The exhibition will also includes photographs made in heliogravure technique, that is very rarely used today.
Andrzej Wiktor (b. 1973) | based in Warsaw (Poland) | graduate of the Łódź Film School | member of the Association of Polish Artists Photographers ZPAF and Association of Polish Journalists | freelancer collaborating with National Geographic Polska, National Geographic Traveler and Press, among others | his photographs have been published by major Polish weeklies, like Wprost, Polityka, Newsweek Polska and Przekrój | previously worked for photo departments of the Polska The Times, Polish Press Agency and Rzeczpospolita | winner and finalist of several photo contests.
Andrzej Wiktor – KNIGHTS
@ -1 Gallery (Polish Olympic Committee bldg.; 4 Wybrzeże Gdyńskie St., Warsaw, Poland)
Grand opening: September 28 at 7.00 PM
The exhibition will be open to the public until October 20, 2016
The Andrzej Wiktor’s exhibition is organised by NEY Gallery&Prints under doc! photo magazine patronage.
Wacław Wantuch (cd! #1) is a legendary person. He is the most recognisable contemporary photographer of “absolute beauty” – the female nude. A sculptor who uses light instead a chisel. The author of over seventy exhibitions and three bestselling albums, representing the Polish canon of black-and-white nude of the 21st century. His next exhibition – Platinum – shows his sensitivity not only to the beautiful shape of the body, but also to the personality and context. He invites the sun light to his studio, accepting its changeability, playing with and making it a co-author of his photographs. He focuses on what is in the shadow. It turns out that what is hardly seen, can be most impressive.
The Platinum exhibition is unusual in its form as well as in content. The photographs presented there are the effect of some years of the photographer’s experiments with the noblest photographic technique of prints – platinotype. Before the World War I it was one of the most popular methods of making prints. Some time later, it was replaced with silver technology – easier and cheaper. However, platinum prints are characterised by unusual vividness. Gentle, full of tonal gradations, unreachable in any other process, combined with natural and warm colours, all of these give the pictures their unique atmosphere. Durability and stability of the chemical processes, that occur during the proper developing of platinum prints, are termed as endless. Moreover, each print is unrepeatable. There is no the same print. The photographs are exposed on handmade paper, supplied by the paper factory founded in the days of Gutenberg.
The exhibition is accompanied by the Platinum album, containing an extended set of photographs and conversations with Wacław Wantuch about his transformation from a sculptor to the photographer of the nude and about challenges posed by the platinotype.
Wacław Wantuch (b. 1965) | based in Kraków (Poland) | artist-photographer and writer | mainly creates female nudes | graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków | author of the book Wawel Stone? (original title Kamień wawelski?; Castor, Kraków, 1992) and photography albums Nudes (original title” Akty; Bosz Publishing, Olszanica, 2010), Nude and Nude 2 (original titles: Akt and Akt 2; Bosz Publishing, Olszanica, 2006) | has exhibited internationally.
Wacław Wantuch – PLATINUM
@ Leica Gallery Warsaw (3 Mysia Str., Warsaw, Poland)
Grand opening: September 15 at 7.00 PM
The exhibition will be open to the public between September 16 and October 23, 2016
Artist talk: September 16 at 6.00 PM
The Wacław Wantuch’s exhibition is organised under doc! photo magazine patronage.
In Łódź (Poland) it is a widely known story. A rich entrepreneur, Izrael Poznański (1833-1900), one of the icons of the best industrial days of the city, wanting to have enough workers for his factory, decided to build houses for them nearby – the famułas. At the time of the greatest prosperity, nearly 7000 people lived and worked there. Unfortunately, at the end of the Poznański’s empire, the slow agony of the famułas and their inhabitants started. Its very end occurred when it was decided to shut down the Poltex company in 1991. The housing for workers became a no man’s land and its inhabitants were left to fend for themselves. This miserable state would have gone on for ever if not the general renovation of the former housing of Poznański’s factories that started in 2014. The renovation was preceded by a long process of carrying out the residents to other apartments. And it is when Urszula Tarasiewicz appeared at the Ogrodowa Street. She started to document the empty buildings. As she admits: “I have always wanted to be a meter reader to have an opportunity to watch how the people live. It fascinated me since my childhood as the decoration of an interior tells a lot about its inhabitants. Whether they decorate their rooms with photos of their grandparents or they prefer to have calendars with naked women on the walls. But this time it was a bit more difficult as the flats were empty, so everything had to be imagined.”
Indeed. There are deserted rooms in Tarasiewicz’s pictures. Shabby walls from which someone ripped the wiring and on which the outlines of once hanging pictures and standing furniture are still visible. We have got used to such pictures. We see them every time after floods and hurricanes. But as far as in these cases they are the consequences of natural disasters, here everything is caused by man. That is why the photographs are more impressive, they even terrify with their ruthlessness and coldness. Yet they can’t stop us thinking about the people who are not in them. Who were the people who used to live there? Where are they and how are they at the moment? How they worked out their life after having left these flats where many of them had lived for generations?
Urszula Tarasiewicz guides us around the world, which no longer exists. She does it slowly as if she wants to give us enough time to come to the conclusion, that such is the way of things, that cities need permanent progress, otherwise they will meet a systematic and relentless fall and from which they can be saved only by a revolution. Nearby, on the other side of the street, such a revolution has been made – Poznański’s factory has become an elegant shopping mall and a hotel, the post-industrial space attracts people again, which for the famułas residents must seem to be out of this world. It must have been a real shock for them, further evidence of exclusion.
Tarasiewicz’s photos are simply shots. One can’t find there any traces of playing with composition or attempts to interesting frames. Actually they are not to do it. They are not supposed to entertain or comfort the viewers. We are to feel this sadness that must have accompanied the inhabitants of these interiors. We must experience the roughness of the place which we can see going away into the past but thanks to these pictures will remain in our memory.
Urszula Tarasiewicz (b. 1975) | based In Łódź (Poland) | graduate of the Łódź Film School | ennobles absurd and marginal things in her pictures, looks for beauty in kitsch, colour in greyness, and happiness in unhappy people | author of many times awarded and exhibited in many countries New Urban Legends series | her photographs have been shown in such group exhibitions as Critical Mass (USA, 2012), Call me on Sunday (Austria, 2014), Face to Face (Germany, 2014), among others | participant in prestigious portfolio review organised by The New York Times (2015).
Urszula Tarasiewicz – OGRODOWA/GARDEN STREET
@ andel Hotel Łódź (17 Ogrodowa St., Łódź, Poland)
Grand opening: September 8 at 7.00 PM
The exhibition will be open to the public between September 9 and October 10, 2016
The Urszula Tarasiewicz’s exhibition is organised under doc! photo magazine patronage.