The words “common” and “community”, standing for “together”, are often used at the Institute of Creative Photography of Silesian University in Opava. Czechs, Poles, Slovaks, and sometimes also the Japanese, Luxembourgers, Ukrainians, Americans, Israelis, Italians and Germans, study there together. It is a community where recent high school graduates and parents of grown-ups meet. The students and educators spend together five cycles of three- or four-day long meetings at a resort in Horní Bečva.
Together, they celebrate Christmas and organise informal matriculations. Together, they take part in various workshops. Together, they have held exhibitions not only in the Czech Republic, but also in Warsaw, Łódź, Poznań, Katowice, Zabrze, Opole, Białystok, Bratislava, Budapest, Kyiv, Vilnius, Kaunas, Vienna, Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt am Main, Paris, Lille, Nimes, Oxford and other cities. Together, they visit festivals. Together, they go to pubs after the exhibitions they held. At the end of each academic year, group photographs of the community are taken. Together, the students organise their own Unigeo Festival, where the lecturers don’t get a say in what can be exhibited and by whom. Educators of different generations and different fields of studies respect each other, and some of them are close friends. The photography school in Opava is known for the fact that many things are done there together and that there are no deep divisions between students and professors. Many people found friends for life at the Institute amongst complete strangers. The Institute of Creative Photography is a true community which includes not only current students and teachers, but also many graduates.
The Institute of Creative Photography was established in 1990, when the only two places where you could study photography in the entire former Soviet Bloc were FAMU in Prague and Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig. Since then, the Institute developed a lot, not only in the sense of building the studio, library or a large depository. It gradually got accredited for MA studies, PhD studies, habilitation procedures and the procedure for the conferment of professorship. Among the 20 current internal and external educators, three are professors, six are docents, and five have PhDs degrees. Among the graduates of the Institute, there is a Dean of the Fine Arts Faculty, many university and high school teachers, laureates of World Press Photo and Photography of the Year International awards, laureates of Leica Oskar Barnack Award and Hasselblad Masters Award, an associated member of the legendary Magnum Agency, artists whose works were exhibited at Centre Pompidou in Paris, Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn, Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Tokyo and at other prestigious institutions, directors of photography galleries and dozens of photographers with great carriers.
The Institute of Creative Photography has a lot in common with Fotofestiwal – International Festival of Photography in Łódź. Since 2005, the Institute has exhibited the works of its students couple of times at group and individual exhibitions and different shows and lectures. This time, these will be works from the past few years, and some of them will be exhibited for the first time. Education at the Institute is quite universal and includes diverse types of photography, from humanistic or subjective documentary, through staged photography, portraits and advertising, to conceptual and intermedia art. Thus, the selected works represent a wide range of styles and thanks to that they share many common themes, such as various aspects of life during the COVID-19 pandemic, ecological motifs and open, honest self-reflection. The exhibition also contains some works of graduates from former years, some film screenings, and a range of theoretical diploma and doctoral projects on the history and theory of photography, as well as books.
Institute of Creative Photography of Silesian University in Opava
Curators: Vladimír Birgus, Ondřej Durczak and Michał Szalast