Krakow Photomonth Festival 2018

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  • Friday, May 25, 2018 - Sunday, June 24, 2018

The 16th Photomonth Festival is a confrontation of various aspects of the hectic contemporary world we usually try to push out of our minds.

Iris Sikking, curator of the Main Programme of Krakow Photomonth Festival 2018, focuses on the concept of space of flows formulated by Manuel Castells in 1996. During the last twenty years, the vision described in the Spanish author’s seminal work The Rise of the Network Society has slowly become a reality. The rapid development of communications and information transfer has resulted in the creation of a new social group: open, stripped of borders and constantly changing, in which we are all becoming elements of an invisible network spanning the entire globe. We are constantly bombarded by imagery from all corners of the globe, shifting our perception of geographical and national borders, and altering our concept of localness: the traditional “space of places” has been replaced by a “space of flows”. On the flip side, globalisation has created new social inequalities and exclusions, and new means of manipulation. Given the rate of change, rapid movement of people and objects and the deluge of information, it is increasingly difficult to see what hides beneath the surface. Contemporary media overwhelms us with information but don’t help us make sense of the events and phenomena around us.

Aesthetic journalism

The term “aesthetic journalism” has been coined to describe the increasing role played by visual artists in commenting on contemporary events. In order to make more sense of social, cultural and political issues, artists work with scientists, journalists and experts. Invited by Sikking, the authors featured in this year’s Krakow Photomonth Festival confront audiences with their fears and the threats arising from the rapid changes all around us. Their projects force us to leave our comfort zones, expand our horizons and overcome our prejudices. Artists intertwine various formats: as well as print, video, installations and spatial arrangements they use sounds, sculptures, found footage and archive materials; they also reach for state-of-the-art technologies. All projects curated by Sikking come together during the exhibition under the banner Space of Flows: Framing an Unseen Reality. Touching on the most pressing problems of the present day, the exhibition is shown at ten locations: Bunkier Sztuki (from 14 April), Nuremberg House, Pauza Gallery, Starmach Gallery, Szara Kamienica Gallery, MOCAK (from 27 April), Ethnographic Museum, Manggha Museum, Tytano and ZPAF Gallery.

Invisible reality

One of the most important motifs of the exhibition will be contemporary migrations and the clash between liberal values of tolerance with a nostalgia and a craving for an idealised past. “Space of flows” also describes the rapid transfer of toxic substances poisoning our planet. The problem of damage being done to the environment around the globe has become a hot topic for artists and photographers. We are also increasingly surrounded by invisible flows. The recent Facebook digital data leak has made internet users realise the sheer scale of leaving traces online. What can all those noughts and ones written in the cloud end up being used for?

According to Sikking, “we are in need of artists … who motivate us to reflect upon our own deep-seated and perhaps unacknowledged anxieties and attitudes toward the unknown, the unseen, and the overlooked, in our own geographical or virtual backyard. The frame and focus that the visual artists offer on this ‘unseen reality’ works as an interlude, and distinguishes a fragment of its pristine or proposed reality.”

Also…

The ShowOFFsection presents premieres of projects by young artists selected through a competition; the joint exhibition of works by eight winners, created under the watchful eye of acclaimed curators, is presented at Tytano. As usual, thirty photographers at the threshold of their careers qualified for the Portfolio Review will have an opportunity to have their works reviewed by experts and to meet other artists. The festival also features accompanying events, including discussion panels on subjects from the Main Programme with the participation of artists, Sikking and experts from various fields. Finally, there will be book launches, workshops, presentations, film screenings and curated tours, while the Krakow Photo Fringe provides more contexts for the festival. (Dorota Dziunikowska, "Karnet" monthly)

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