No matter what we collect – be those amateur photos found at a flea market or works of art created by world-renowned artists – we are compelled by a hidden desire to keep something for ourselves. Collecting is also driven by the want to create, and the collection itself can say a lot about its owner. During this year’s edition of Fotofestiwal, we will present five extraordinary collectors. All of them have been building their unique collections for years, making them very original compilations of photographs, selected based on their own, idiosyncratic criteria and often originating from surprising sources. Thanks to their determination, passion and obsession, they have managed to create inspiring stories about the contemporary society and breakthrough moments in the history of the 20th and 21st centuries.
The spectrum of these collections is very wide: apart from amateur photography, it also includes works that have been displayed in prestigious museums around the world and at a number of international festivals. The common denominator of all this year’s exhibitions is that, with one exception, the collectors themselves will become their main narrators and curators.
In Art_Inkubator, our Festival centre, we will present three international exhibitions. oo’s & iii’s is a selection of works from two collections of New York curator W.M. Hunt: Dancing Bear, consisting of magical, intriguing photographs of people with their eyes closed, obscured or otherwise invisible, and Blind Pirate, which is a collection of photographs of various groups from before 1950, including American soldiers, workers and students. In Hunt’s collections, photographs found in a nearby thrift shop appear right next to works by such artists as Diane Arbus or Robert Frank.
Jean-Marie Donat focuses on amateur photos only. He rummages for them at flea markets all over the world, finds them on the Internet and creates compilations which he then releases as self-published photo books. Often, certain recurring motifs can be found in these images: men flexing their muscles, posing with cars, scratched out faces of disliked people, holiday family portraits with a traditional “white bear”. All this makes up a unique self-portrait of the world in the 20th century.
The exhibition unusually closing the main program in November will be presented in the Museum of Art in Lodz. We will show you the outstanding collection created for more than 30 years by the well-known French art promoter and merchant Antoine de Galbert, founder of the private La Maison Rouge museum in Paris. His collections contain over three thousand exhibits. Antoine de Galbert is known for his unconventional approach to exhibiting his works. One of his previous exhibitions, The Wall, was made in collaboration with an IT specialist, using the Monte-Carlo method. A randomly generated algorithm selected works solely on the basis of two indicators: image size and inventory number. For Fotofestiwal, Antoine de Galbert prepared a curatorial exhibition titled The Burning House, which shows the contemporary world in crisis. The exhibition will include works by politically and socially engaged artists, including Christian Boltanski, Boris Mikhailov, Jonathan Horowitz, David Goldblatt, Mikhael Subotzky, Yoho Tsuda.
Collecting is a very idiosyncratic gesture. Collectors’ choices are always personal – they are an expression of their sensitivity, nonchalance, courage, sense of humour, knowledge and long experience. The exhibitions we will see at Fotofestiwal are the self-portraits of extraordinary collectors, imaginative enthusiasts who build “personal museums” for years, creating their own stories about the world.
As always, the theme of the Festival will also be present in films, discussions, slide shows and workshops that make up the full programme of the Lodz-based event. More information soon!
Program board of Fotofestiwal: Franek Ammer, Krzysztof Candrowicz, Justyna Kociszewska, Marta Szymańska