Crisis? What Crisis?! is the main theme of the 14th edition of Krakow Photomonth, Europe’s leading photography festival, starting on May 12 in Cracow (Poland). The Main Program, curated by Lars Willumeit (German curator and cultural anthropologist), tries to present crisis not as a transitional phase or an anomaly, but as a characteristic trait of everyday life, a permanent state with which we must cope in practically all spheres of our lives: private, public and global. Political, economic, environmental and migration crises concern us to the same degree as crises of identity, trust, and “individuality” in the globalised world.
Nor has the crisis bypassed photography which, in our epoch of overproduction of images, is trying to find its place. The constantly changing media landscape has forced photographers – journalists, reporters and artists – to turn to new forms of communication with the viewer and creative use of source materials.
“The exhibitions presented during Krakow Photomonth, each alluding in their own way to global, social and political problems, have their own stakes in telling of the problems of the contemporary world; they are reflections upon the function of photography,” – says Lars Willumeit.
The artists invited to take part in the festival use a range of strategies to address these phenomena and to comment on them. The list opens with world-famous photographer Paul Graham, whose New Europe project has become remarkably prescient in the face of the all-too-evident crisis of “European values.” A wider global perspective comes courtesy of Swiss artist Yann Mingard who draws from the notion of the Anthropocene – the first geological epoch in history which has come about through human intervention. His project Deposit, completed between 2009 and 2013, makes visible how humankind collects, stores and classifies both biological specimens and digital information that are usually hidden from public view. To enable this, Mingard brought back images from twenty-one locations, dividing them into four sub-chapters: Plants, Animals, Humans and Data.
Another, private perspective is adopted by outstanding Polish artist Aneta Grzeszykowska in whose work we find themes of incompatibility of individuals and roles played by human bodies. This exhibition will be displayed at MOCAK where we will also have a chance to see a rising star of world photography, the youngest Magnum nominee in the agency’s history, Max Pinckers. The project presented during this year’s festival is a story about love – of the star-crossed sort, as it is forbidden by the Indian caste culture – and universal aspirations to show happiness. The artist pairs his photographs with newspaper clippings, notes, and artefacts from wedding photography studios, which might be seen as an attempt to go beyond the crisis of classical documentary photography.
The search for new forms of visual narrative in the era of the crisis of visual media is the main motif of a collective exhibition curated by Iris Sikking. The six projects presented here take on such difficult subjects as the heroin trade, genocide and migration; they are linked by a desire to go beyond a classical way of telling global histories, which the artists acknowledge to be insufficient. Here photographs on a wall are just as adequate form of response as a radio broadcast, a YouTube film or illustrations from an archive. The #Dysturb Collective speaks directly about the crisis in journalism, using the walls of buildings and advertising media to force Cracow’s inhabitants to face “street news” that seldom appears in newspaper headlines.
The strong showing of photography collectives is a notable feature of this year’s Photomonth with exhibitions of such groups as Sputnik Photos (Poland), Klara Källström & Thobias Fäldt (Sweden), Werker Magazine (the Netherlands/Spain) and Discipula (Italy).
Program of the 2016 Krakow Photomonth also includes ShowOFF section with exhibitions of young artists selected through an open competition. This year’s winners include: Martin Errichiello & Filippo Menichetti, Weronika Gęsicka, Katarzyna Hoffmann, Krzysztof Racoń, Constantin Schlachter, Michał Siarek, Kacper Szalecki and Justyna Wierzchowiecka.
As always, the festival is accompanied by such events as:
- Portfolio Review, providing an opportunity for young artists to submit their works to outstanding reviewers, with exhibition of the 2015 Griffin Art Space Prize for the best portfolio – Wiktoria Wojciechowska (DEBUTS 2014);
- Master Series meetings with both, the artists presenting their work in the Main Program and specialists to enrich the discussion around the theme of the festival or to speak of the ongoing fashion for photobooks;
- Krakow Photo Fringe, an independent platform bringing together submissions sent in by artists, animators, activists, galleries, and all those whose passion is photography, including exhibition laureates of the DEBUTS (edition 2015) in andel’s Hotel Cracow.
The program of events is also filled out with book premieres, workshops, presentations, film screenings and guided tours by the curators.
But the first exhibition of the 2016 Krakow Photomonth will take place in… Warsaw’s Dom Słowa Polskiego (11 Miedziana St., Warsaw, Poland) already on April 23. The Robert Knoth and Antoinette de Jong’s Poppy: Trails of Afghan Heroin presentation will be open to the public until May 3 and is a teaser for the festival.
2016 Krakow Photomonth
Crisis? What Crisis?!
May 12 – June 12, 2016