This year’s edition of Fotofestiwal, which touches upon the issues of nature and humanity, contributes to the global ongoing debate on environmental awareness. Scope of activity of the artists and curators creating the festival goes beyond simply documentation, it also includes exploration of nature’s change in the ethical, political and historical context. Fotofestiwal 2018 delves deep not only into the environmental problems plaguing today’s world, but also the solutions which are supposed to hold a key to human race’s survival and to offer us a unique chance to relish in the power of nature in all its glory.
This year’s edition of Fotofestiwal encompasses: almost 30 exhibitions; over 100 guests; 2 competitions: Grand Prix Fotofestiwal and Photobook of the Year; International Photography Night organised in collaboration with Futures – European Photography Platform; Three Hugger, the spectacular art installation in a public space; 2 portfolio reviews aimed at professional and emerging photographers; film section; Parallel – European Photo Based Platform project; educational programme; series of workshops; meetings; slideshows; concerts; and Fotofestiwal Kids.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch of almost 192 million pounds worth of marine debris is floating somewhere in the ocean between California and the Hawaiian Islands. The patch, five the size of Poland, causes the extinction of over 5 thousand animal species a year. It has already wiped out over 95 percent of the organisms in the Great Barrier Reef. Within the next couple of years, we will most probably witness the death of the entire coral reef. An exponential number of research lends credence to the irreversible human impact on the current state of the environment. In the wake of the 18th century agricultural revolution, humanity has established its dominance over animals, nature and its resources. As a result, some experts argue that we already live in the so-called Anthropocene – the human epoch – although a scientific debate about the actual gravity of our environmental footprint on earth, which would justify its announcement, remains unresolved. Nevertheless, the Anthropocene has not only become an environmental and humanist buzzword, but also a point of reference for many contemporary artists.
Human Nature is the title of the exhibition programme comprising seven solo shows and one group show that together build a narrative about the human relation to nature. Some of the art projects emphasise people’s devastating impact on the environment, while other propose solutions to the most burning ecological issues. A majority of artists based their projects on an extensive research, consulted scientific journals, articles and archives, collaborated with experts in various fields, as well as participated in the science expeditions. They’re all actively engaged in disseminating their findings concerning the plight of Anthropocene.
Human Nature will stage the presentation of Monsanto: A Photographic Investigation by Mathieu Asselin, which premiered at Les Rencontres de la Photographie in Arles, France. Last year, the widely-discussed and critically acclaimed art project most likely received the highest accolades in the field, such as the Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Award. Mathieu Asselin’s investigative reportage about the history of Monsanto, one of the largest biotechnology corporations in the world, bears testimony to the havoc its practices have wreaked on nature, climate change, global environmental policies, communities and people’s lives. -> Read an interview with Mathieu Asselin and see his project @ doc! photo magazine vol. Q9 #44.
Claudius Schulze decided to examine the way natural catastrophes and the threat of climate change affect the picturesque landscape you’ve probably seen a million times before on postcards and in vacation photo albums. The photographer packed his 4×5 large format camera into a van, along with his cat, and took a 31 thousand miles journey along the coast of Europe in order to raise awareness of natural disaster management’s influence on the shape of landscapes. -> See Claudius Schulze’s project Statue of Nature @ doc! photo magazine vol. Q9 #44.
Mandy Barker, an award-winning British photographer, recipient of many awards, including IPA and Lens Culture Earth Award, among other, specialises in aerial shots of oceanic plastic debris depicted as ‘marine creatures.’ Her works were exhibited at such institutions as the Aperture Foundation in New York City, the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Photographers’ Gallery in London.
Another esteemed guest of Fotofestiwal will be Dornith Doherty, a Guggenheim Foundation Fellow. For a decade, she has studied the largest seed banks in the world in collaboration with renown biologists. Her impressive oeuvre encompasses, for instance, the series of intriguing x-ray images of seeds.
One of the festival exhibitions presents Christmas Island, Naturally, an art project of Robert Zhao Renhui (-> doc! #26), a Singaporean visual artist whose series of photographs portrays the natural environment of animals and plants. The founder of the Institute of Critical Zoologists is well-versed in the most recent developments in biological research, as well as the role of nature in the equivocal and marginal aspects of human life. Robert works together with scientists, zoologists and botanists, which to be fair does not guarantee the authenticity of his photographs.
Inter-Species Conservation is a title of the exhibition featuring works by the Polish women artists: Joanna Rajkowska, Karolina Grzywnowicz and Anna Zagrodzka. The exhibition examines the notion of Anthropocene and visual representation of nature in art.
Furthermore, the finalists of the Grand Prix Fotofestiwal 2018, selected from the total of 630 applicants living in 59 countries, will participate in their long-awaited joint exhibition. The unveiling of the finalists’ art projects is the most prominent and exciting event of the festival since the winner of the Main Prize (PLN 10,000.00) will be announced during the exhibition opening.
Apart from the festival centres, a variety of associated events will be held in a majority art galleries and cultural institutions in Łodź, which became our official partners. It is worth mentioning two of them here. Vienna House Andel’s Łódź, which will traditionally host the first public presentation of the DEBUTS project’s laureates (-> Saturday, June 23 at 7.00 PM), and Imaginarium Gallery, where the long-awaited premiere of the second book by Hubert Humka (-> doc! #37) – Death Landscapes (Warsaw: BLOW UP PRESS, 2018) will take place (-> Sunday, 24 June at 5.00 PM).
This year’s film programme also revolves around the theme of nature. A new feel-good film section features significant milestones in the history of nature-themed celluloid entertainment: from Percy Smith’s visual flair scored by Tindersticks – Minute Bodies: The Intimate World of F. Percy Smith (dir. by Stuart A. Staples; UK: BFI, 2016) and the BBC’s Planet Earth II (dir. by David Attenborough; UK: BBC One, 2016) , through Hitchcock’s classic The Birds (dir. by Alfred Hitchcock; USA: Universal Pictures, 1963) and independent films of San Francisco from the VHS era, to the midnight screenings. Our line-up features the latest documentaries about photographers, such as Faces Places (dir. by JR and Agnès Varda; France: Le Pacte, 2017), Master and Tatyana (dir. by Giedre Zickyte; Lithuania: MEED Films, 2015), and Instant Dreams (dir. by Willem Baptist; the Netherlands: Cinema Delicatessen, 2017), a film about people trying to keep their dreams of instant photography alive.
The special section devoted to our viewers’ educational experience, prepared in collaboration with the University of Łódź, embraces multimedia presentations, film screenings, temporal events and meetings with artists/experts in ecology. Additionally, a well-stocked reading room will give our audience members an open access to the artistic and scientific publications on nature, environment protection and sustainability.
The International Festival of Photography FOTOFESTIWAL ŁÓDŹ is one of the leading festivals of photography in Europe, held in high regard due to its incredible energy and astonishing art shows orchestrated in the post-industrial venues around the city of Łódź, which have been attracting an impressive audience for several years now. It presents some of the most fascinating phenomena in contemporary photography. Professionals are offered an opportunity to hone their skills during workshops and portfolio reviews, while children may enjoy learning a thing or two on how take pictures and approach photography.
More info @ fotofestiwal.com
International Festival of Photography FOTOFESTIWAL ŁÓDŹ
June 21 – July 1, 2018
@ Art_Inkubator (@ Art Factory; 3 Tymienieckiego St., Łódź, Poland)
@ OFF Piotrkowska Centre (138/140 Piotrkowska St., Łódź, Poland)
The 17th edition of the International Festival of Photography FOTOFESTIWAL ŁÓDŹ is organised under doc! photo magazine media patronage.
Over ten years ago, a premiere of Bogdan Konopka’s exhibition took place at Centre Pompidou in Paris (France). Back then, the group of photographs was shown under the title Paris, Unvisible City(Paris La Ville Invisible). Today we can discover new stories of the similar kind, registered with the same tool – 8×10 camera. The photographs tell stories about Paris, Nice, Arles and Verzy forest. They are narratives of places, spaces and objects. Their leitmotif is love for light and deep understanding of fragility of photography as a medium.
‘Each photograph by Bogdan Konopka is like a tale on light. It is produced using the contact method – from the negative put directly on the paper,’– says Mateusz Palka, author of an essay about Bogdan Konopka’s work. – ‘In order to well-perceive these small pictures, one needs to get as close as possible. In a result the viewer immerse him or herself in them, like in narrow, dark tunnels in which you can see little, or rather only what is important. They are like photo-fragments, time gaps that we are falling into.’
The exhibition title, Lessons of Darkness(Leçons de Ténèbres), is inspired by music composition by François Couperin, which traditionally is a part of celebrations of Dark Matis, an event before Easter. This specific music set the time of print development for Konopka. It is also a metaphor of working in darkroom. For the artist, it is a ritual – the moment during which ‘the picture is born.’
Darkness is an inseparable companion of light: ‘In fact, photography in its elementary sense does not mean operating with light, but shadow; the shadow, which defines light. There is one more shadow that complements photography: the shadow of its author and their time. The photographer directs images from darkness into light. And it is there that we learn whether images in “Lessons on Darkness” may become works of art. Sometimes it happens so…’– says Bogdan Konopka.
A photo album of the same title, containing black and white photographs by Bogdan Konopka and essays by Adam Mazur and Tomasz Palka, accompanies the exhibition.
Bogdan Konopka(b. 1953) | based in Paris (France) | started to photograph in the 1970s | prefers working with silver photography, mostly large-format | specialises in photographing urban tissue and landscapes| one of the creators of the ‘elementary photography’ trend (1982-1985) founded at the Foto-Medium-Art Gallery in Wrocław (Poland) | his works can be found in collections of many museums, including Centre Pompidou, Fonds National d’Art Contemporain (both in Paris, France), Musée de L’Elysée in Lausanne (Switzerland), Museum of Art in Łódź (Poland), and the National Museum in Wroclaw (Poland), among others | nominated for the Niépce Award (1994 and 1995) | laureate of the Grand Prix de la Ville de Vevey (1998) | awarded the Gloria Artis Bronze Medal of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage (2017) | has been featured in many prestigious magazines, including contra doc! (cd! #3) | represented by Françoise Paviot Gallery.
Bogdan Konopka – LEÇONS DE TÉNÈBRES
@ Leica 6×7 Gallery Warsaw ( 3 Mysia St., Warsaw, Poland)
Opening reception: June 8 at 7.00 PM
The exhibition will be open to the public between June 9 and July 22, 2018
- Artist’s talk on June 9 at 6.00 PM
- Guided tour on June 30 at 6.00 PM
The Bogdan Konopka exhibition is organised under doc! photo magazine media patronage.