Krakow Photomonth Festival 2017

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  • Friday, May 19, 2017 - Sunday, June 18, 2017

The perfidious relationship between reality and its photographic reflection is the subject of the 15th Krakow Photomonth Festival.

How do photographers see and describe the world? Formulated by Gordon MacDonald, curator of the Main Programme of the Krakow Photomonth Festival, the motto “From the Outside, Looking In” defines the role of photographers as investigators and observers, keeping somewhat beyond the events they document with their cameras. This allows a degree of manipulation: artificially created situations can be given the illusion of reality, while the credibility of all images is called into question. “Nothing is true and nothing is false – everything is a possible true fiction of a deceptive fact,” notes the curator while presenting six exhibitions prepared especially for the festival.

Exercises in perception

It’s up to us whether we believe a given image… Held at MOCAK since late April, Susan Lipper’s Grapevine. 1988-1992 at first glance appears to be a documentary. However, inquisitive minds will soon start questioning the seemingly conventional snaps of everyday lives in small-town West Virginia, questioning the participation of the author and her models in creating a provincial idyll. Diana Lelonek comes to MOCAK to present the first results of her project A New Archaeology for Liban and Płaszów. The artist studied the former Liban quarry and the Plaszow Nazi concentration camp to examine the superimposed geological, historical and anthropological traces: from prehistoric fossils, through remains of the Second World War, to contemporary litter. What can we learn from the elements she collected? The exhibition Divisive Moments at the Ethnographic Museum, based on Gordon MacDonald’s materials from the UFO Photo Archives of Wendelle Stevens, will be one of the major challenges of this year’s festival. Is “irrefutable proof” that we are not alone in the Universe and that we are regularly visited by Aliens not simply a monumental fraud? What does the popularity of myriad conspiracy theories and alternative facts in the contemporary world say about us? Lookout presents the materials drawn from the  archive of the “UFO-Video” Warsaw UFO Research Society, which, for more than 30 years, was under the auspices of the Museum of Technology located in the Palace of Culture and Science, Warsaw. Authors of works presented at the exhibition The War From Here, held at Bunkier Sztuki, show a range of manipulations rooted in viewers’ feelings and emotions. Perhaps in this day of ubiquitous war reportage they will shake us from our position of cool, impartial observers and reawaken empathy blunted by the media? The curator of the main programme also examines how photography can elicit emotions through different kinds of dance. Attempts to capture the ecstasy, movement, sound, effort and energy in a single static image may seem like an insurmountable task. Let’s find out whether our imaginations and emotions can be captivated by photographs of physical expression at the exhibition We Also Dance at the Museum of Photography in Kraków at Rakowicka Street. The exhibitions will be accompanied by master classes, book launches, presentations, workshops, film screenings and tours with curators.

Special guests

For the first time, the main programme welcomes events with an even longer history than Photomonth alongside exhibitions prepared especially for the festival. The former include the 18th instalment of the Fotografia Kolekcjonerska project with the exhibition Things: The Object in Polish Photography. The Starmach Gallery presents works by Polish artists of several generations, including photos transforming the usually two-dimensional artform into a three-dimensional world, imparting a host of new meanings. At the Henryk Gallery, Magda Hueckel, author of the album Hueckel/Theatre, a visual history of Polish contemporary theatre, invites us into the heart of “her” theatre, while the Layers exhibition of works by Andrzej Georgiew, the portraitist who passed away last year (at the currentart.space gallery) attempts to redefine the artist’s place in the history of Polish photography. Finally, we will play the Flirtation Cards at the ZPAF Gallery with Wiktor Dąbkowski, winner of last year’s Griffin Art Space – Lubicz award for best festival portfolio. This year’s Portfolio Review is held on 27 May at the Lubicz Office Centre.

#showOFFpower 2017

New this year is a joint project by curators of the ShowOFF competition section for debuting artists aiming to select winners and working with them to prepare a co-operative presentation. Projects by winners (Terje Abusdal, Jan Cieślikiewicz, Polina Karpova, Lucie Khahoutian, Flor Maesen, Viacheslav Poliakov, Kaja Rata and Karolina Wojtas) are revealed at the exhibition Don’t Bite Your Lips. You Have Blood on Them Already at the Kraków Film Centre in Zabłocie.

Masters Series

Particular attention should be paid to the Masters Series, an important part of the festival. Organizers have invited both artists presenting their works in the Main Programme and specialists to enrich the discussion around the theme of the festival, and will talk about new trends in the world of photography.

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By investigating HOW, the anniversary festival also looks for answers to the question which has accompanied it since its earliest days: WHAT photography says about the world… (Dorota Dziunikowska, „Karnet” monthly)

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