As a result of the open call, out of more than 700 applications, the international jury selected six projects to be presented at this year’s Fotofestiwal – the International Festival of Photography in Łódź. The Open Call section (former Grand Prix Fotofestiwal) is a part of the festival in which no thematic, age or territorial restrictions are imposed. It presents the most interesting and the latest phenomena in contemporary photography.
See the works of this year’s six winners that will be on display in the post-industrial OFF Piotrkowska space between 10 and 28 June 2020, during the Fotofestiwal.
The “INSIDE INSECT” project is a personal research about the work, construction and representation of the symbolic universe of the filmmaker Luis Buñuel. Inside Insect updates the figure of Luis Buñuel through contemporary artistic perspectives and explores the use and function of images. The project follows Buñuel’s footprints through various territories, generating a new value for found objects and archival documents such as letters, postcards, degraded photographs, maps and texts. The project plays with sign systems and photographic representations, deconstructing a preexisting narrative by deliberately mixing reality and fiction, that is, past and present myth and reality. It relates private images with constructed ones and simulations. The project takes the form of a photographic essay comprised of photographs and archive materials, either altered or presented as such, establishing tensions, dialogues, overlapping relations, echoes or resonances of all these elements, shown as a cluster or constellation of materials.
THERE IS NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN
Frederic Jameson once said that it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism. Our contemporary culture is hugely influenced by global capitalism, which affects every part of our life. The myth of society is that if we work hard enough, we can become “somebody”. This kind of individualism led to the belief that we think that the world exists for the benefit of mankind. We crave perfectionism and at the same time use the Earth’s resources as if there is no tomorrow. As an artist, I always try to reflect on our contemporary culture and the world we live in, to mirror what happens in our society. I believe we all can feel the rise of this new era even when we lack words to describe it. The way we consume, inquire, vote, communicate, and work is rapidly changing every day. There is Nothing New Under the Sun is capturing the Zeitgeist of our time, without laying out answers to the viewer but guiding their mind and creativity into the direction of the story behind the images.
Somewhere in Eastern-Europe, children gather every summer to wear military uniforms, camp in tents under harsh conditions and practice the usage of guns. For an outsider, the idea itself seems scary. For them, it’s the time of their life. The Hungarian NGO named “Honvédsuli” (Home Defense School) is committed to teaching discipline, patriotism, and camaraderie to children between 10 and 18, in a society that they believe is becoming slothful and disconnected. The kids camp under the sky, guard a fire, hike, sing together. They teach the usage of air-soft weapons (replicas of real-life guns) to each other and spend weeks according to strict military discipline. Entering their puberty, it is their first time to face expectations, responsibility, or the other gender. Friendships and a strong community are being formed as they get a few bruises, or have a hard time doing push-ups as a punishment. They’re determined, sometimes lazy, or in love. And for many of them, these adventures provide the only solid ground in life, a framework to understand the world and their position in it. While reporting from military-themed summer camps for kids, the series observes our attitude towards strict discipline, weapons, and war, and raises questions about their place in our society.
How can we protect future generations against highly radioactive waste, such as that produced in our nuclear power plants and in medicine, research and industry? They will pose a danger to life for hundreds of thousands of years to come. Beyond technical measures to ensure secure geological repositories, this also requires novel communicative solutions: future civilisations so distant that they are beyond our wildest imagination must be warned of the dangers posed by these sites. This raises fundamental questions of an anthropological nature – about the role of language and culture in the transmission of information over extremely long periods of time, but also about the almost uncontrollable human risk factor. The Swiss photographer and artist Marcel Rickli reflects on these pressing concerns in the form of a visual research project in the field of tension between documentary photography and art. His latest work, AEON, contrasts the symbolic nature of nuclear semiotics with the factuality of repositories as they are planned and built today. The project illustrates the difficulty of defining signs that not only have a physical existence over an immensely long period of time, but whose meaning is also universal. It poses questions about the future of mankind, unites approaches from physics, futurology, anthropology and sociology and culminates in the simple and at the same time existential philosophical question: What endures?
ENJOY house” documents the rise and proliferation of made-for-Instagram selfie factories throughout New York and Los Angeles. The made-for-Instagram selfie factory hybridizes museums, amusement parks, and shopping outlets into large-scale photo opportunities that provide visitors with readymade fantasies selling the idea of experience. Set designers employ a palette that uptakes the language of commercial femininity, embellishing warehouses with baby pink backdrops and decorative props such as fake flowers, confetti, glittering streamers, and plastic flamingos. These spaces act as film sets devoid of narrative, where nothing necessarily happens outside of the picture-taking event. In the world of made-for-Instagram selfie factories, I am a member of the target market audience: a female urbanite and Instagram user in her early twenties. Throughout the course of one year, I photographed over sixty made-for-Instagram selfie factories in New York and Los Angeles such as Rosé Mansion, BeautyCon Pop, American Dream, Fairy Island, Museum of Sweets and Selfies, Happy-Go- Lucky, Fa La Land, among many more. This series presents such forms of escapist amusement as hostile and uninhabitable environments. Subjects and spaces are produced in the pursuit of ideals, where sites for entertainment are fashioned by their shortcomings. Through the negation of color, this series focuses on how the construction of fantasy inevitably entails its own failure. An absence emerges from the cumulation of disparate places and their visitors, all of whom become actors participating in the same theater. This theater consists of costumed spaces that take on the appearance of purgatories rather than playgrounds. By photographing moments of authenticity at the height of artifice, I look at the ways people manufacture themselves to conform to the props that surround and confine them. The discovery in each picture lies in the decontextualization of activity, where nonperformances take center stage and expectations of glamour evacuate in the physicalization of desire. The formal simplicity of greyscale attests to this symbolic power, emphasizing a generation’s inheritance of a modern empty experience.
KATARZYNA WĄSOWSKA / MARIANNA WASOWSKA
CZEKAJĄC NA ŚNIEG (WAITING FOR THE SNOW)
“Waiting for the Snow” is a photographic project presenting the curious phenomenon of Polish migration to the South American countries during the partitions (19th century) and the interwar period. We focus on the Brazilian and Argentinean directions of migration, as these countries were the most popular destinations of migrants, and the number of people of Polish origin living there is currently the highest on that continent (Brazil 1.53 million, Argentina 120-450 thousand). Both these countries were also at that time perceived by migrants as unknown and exotic. We want to shed some light on this little known (and rather untypical) aspect of European presence in that remote part of the world. The colonization pursued by Central European countries took the form of an advertising campaign. Its aim was to occupy large areas of land in order to draw not state, but individual benefits, pretending that this land was not inhabited by native populations. The increased migration to Brazil was also related to the lack of workforce that the country experienced after the abolition of slavery and the implementation of the government project of making Brazil “white”. In Argentina, the plan was mainly based on the idea that only European workers could build a modern dream society. This migration policy strongly influenced the way migrants defined themselves and created relationships with the new land, which is particularly important because most of them were farmers. The Polish descendants of those emigrants are now (after about 100-150 years) still actively cultivating the traditions and language of their ancestors. Using our own photos, archival documents and family albums, we want to create a multi-layered visual story. On the one hand, we gather stories based on the collective memory of the Polish community about the country of origin and the beginnings of settlement in the new homeland. On the other hand, we focus on the creolisation and mixing of cultures, and observe how the Slavic background has interlaced with the South American context, creating a concept of identity based on reconstruction, fiction and fantasy.
Exhibitions will be presented at OFF Piotrkowska Center in Łódź, during Fotofestiwal 2020.