New realities, quasi-biographies, weird, unbelievable worlds. Fotofestiwal invited artists who use fiction to comment on “here and now”. They draw you into a game, where boundaries between the real and the unreal are no longer so obvious. Hence the title of the 16th edition of Fotofestiwal was: “DASZ WIARĘ?/ CAN YOU IMAGINE?”. On 1-11 June 2017 in Łódź, apart from exhibitions, we organised events in the urban space, the Grand Prix finale, a new portfolio review, screenings of films, workshops, exhibitions of photography books, attractions for children and much more.
During Fotofestiwal 2017 the viewers faced imagined realities and participated in a game in which they no longer were just passive observers. The artists who participated in “Dasz wiarę? / Can you Imagine?” said: don’t believe photography, ask questions, be an attentive observer. Dialogue with the audience of “Dasz wiarę?/ Can you imagine?” was strengthened by subtle, (un)real installations by Noémie Goudal and the latest project called Provisional Arrangements authored by Martin Kollar, a renowned absurd seeker. The curator’s exhibition was prepared by one of the most intriguing artists of the young generation - Augustin Rebetez. He is known for his signature black birds, human-like creatures and incredible structures that have made appearance in the minimalist gallery halls of, among others, Berlin, Paris, Lausanne, Arles, Mexico City or Montreal. “Trash cans for hearts and people have no soul. A chorus exhibition curated by Augustin Rebetez” was more than a photography exhibition – it was a total artistic universe, which Rebetez created together with sixteen other artists, including David Favrod (Grand Prix Fotofestiwal 2014 winner) and Christian Patterson, Birthe Piontek, Reiner Riedler and Yumiko Utsu.
The team of curators presented the set of works authored by the master of artistic mystification – Joan Fontcuberta. It was the first in Poland presentation of such a big collection of works by one of the best known artists, curators and theoreticians of photography. Fontcuberta’s works have been presented in the most renowned arts institutions in the world. In Łódź, we saw three of his projects: Fauna, Herbarium, Constellations which have significantly influenced the understanding of contemporary photography. Herbarium and Constellations introduced us into the fantasy world of quasi-botany and pseudo-astronomy. Fauna was a seemingly documentary project about research conducted by an unknown biologist, who discovers new animal species. A snake with centipede’s legs or a monkey having a body of a horse are only examples of what Fontcuberta “captured”. It could change the history of science… if only it was real.
Fotofestiwal's 2017 theme was also reflected in the photo book exhibition and selected film screenings.
The Festival started on the International Children’s Day, therefore the first part of opening was dedicated to the younger audience who, with a glass of delicious carrot juice, was welcomed by the curators and artists. Then the results of Grand Prix Fotofestiwal 2017 – an annual competition presenting the most interesting phenomena of contemporary photography - were presented to the audience. The winner, Dominika Gęsicka, received the prize of PLN 10 000. The competition works were presented in the exhibitions and slideshows in the urban space.
During the second weekend of the Festival (9-11.06) a spectacular, large-format, show of photos from the archives of Veolia Energia Łódź – THE ENERGY OF TIME took place. 110 YEARS OF POWER INDUSTRY IN ŁÓDŻ were presented at Piotrkowska street. Wiktor Jekimenko, the author, documented the development and operation of the EC1 plant in Łódź. This archive includes group portraits of its employees and the photos of Łódź from the beginning of the previous century.
The events taking place at Piotrkowska street were accompanied by the happening by a Berlin-based collective of street artists, Mentalgassi, who situated portraits of Łódź citizens in rather surprising locations of the city’s high street. It was also the weekend of film screenings (thanks to partnership with Transatlantyk Film Festival): premieres of most interesting documentaries about photography (among others, about Josef Koudelka and Robert Frank) and some works that were a result of the search for a new film form that includes photography: premiere of Ascent by visual artist Fiona Tan or short photo-films presented earlier at the Les Nuits Photographie festival.
Fotofestiwal 2017 Team is absolutely grateful to all artists, sponsors, partners, volunteers and media patrons. It is you who made a success of 16th International Festival of Photography in Łódź possible!
Special thanks to the main partners and granting institutions: The City of Lodz, Lodz Event Center, Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, Fabryka Sztuki, HP, Veolia, University of Lodz & Prohelvetia.
Muzyka: Mateusz Wysocki.