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Łódź: Fotofestival 2018
June 21, 2018 - July 1, 2018
Robert Zhao Renhui, Fotofestiwal 2018 ⓒ R.Z.R. – J8.2, from the series Christmas Island, Naturally, 2016
17th edition of the International Photography Festival
This year’s edition of Fotofestiwal, which touches upon the issues of nature and humanity, contributes to the global on-going debate on environmental awareness. Scope of activity of the artists and curators we’ve invited to participate in the festival goes beyond documentation to include their exploration of nature’s change in the ethical, political and historical context. Fotofestiwal 2018 delves deep not only into the environmental problems plaguing today’s world, but also the solutions which are supposed to hold a key to human race’s survival, and by the way offers you a unique chance to relish in the power of nature in all its glory.
This year’s edition of Fotofestiwal encompasses: almost 30 exhibitions; over 100 guests; 2 competitions: Grand Prix Fotofestiwal and Photobook of the Year; International Photography Night organized in collaboration with Futures – European Photography Platform; Three Hugger, the spectacular art installation in a public space; 2 portfolio reviews aimed at professional and emerging photographers; film section; Parallel- European Photo Based Platform project; educational programme; series of workshops; meetings; slideshows; concerts; and Fotofestiwal Kids.
Fotofestiwal is one of the leading festivals of photography in Europe held in high regard due to its incredible energy and astonishing art shows orchestrated in the post-industrial venues around the city of Łódź, which have been attracting an impressive audience for several years now. Also this time around, the Foundation of Visual Education, the festival’s chief organizer, alongside the City of Łódź have invited the photographers from all around the world to showcase their works on multiple exhibitions attended by thousands of visitors. Fotofestiwal presents some of the most fascinating phenomena in contemporary photography to its audience. Professionals are offered an opportunity to hone their skills during workshops and portfolio reviews, while children may enjoy learning a thing or two on how take pictures and approach photography.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch of almost 192 million pounds worth of marine debris is floating somewhere in the ocean between California and the Hawaiian Islands. The patch five the size of Poland causes the extinction of over 5 thousand animal species a year. It has already wiped out over 95 per cent of the organisms in the Great Barrier Reef. Within the next couple of years, we will most probably witness the death of the entire coral reef. An exponential number of research lends credence to the irreversible human impact on the current state of the environment. In the wake of the eighteenth century agricultural revolution, humanity has established its dominance over animals, nature and its resources. As a result, some experts argue that we already live in the so called Anthropocene – the human epoch – although a scientific debate about the actual gravity of our environmental footprint on earth, which would justify its announcement, remains unresolved. Nevertheless, the Anthropocene has not only become an environmental and humanist buzzword, but also a point of reference for many contemporary artists.
“Human Nature” is the title of the exhibition programme comprising seven solo shows and one group show that together build a narrative about the human relation to nature. Some of the art projects emphasize people’s devastating impact on the environment, while other propose solutions to the most burning ecological issues. A majority of artists based their projects on an extensive research, consulted scientific journals, articles and archives, collaborated with experts in various fields, as well as participated in the science expeditions. They’re all actively engaged in disseminating their findings concerning the plight of Anthropocene. The programme was developed by the following collective of curators: Marta Szymańska, Franek Ammer, Agata Zubrzycka, Justyna Kociszewska and Krzysztof Candrowicz.
“Human Nature” will stage the presentation of “Monsanto: A Photographic Investigation” by Mathieu Asselin, which premiered at Les Rencontres de la Photographie in Arles, France. Last year, the widely-discussed and critically acclaimed art project most likely received the highest accolades in the field, such as the Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Award. Mathieu Asselin’s investigative reportage about the history of Monsanto, one of the largest biotechnology corporations in the world, bears testimony to the havoc its practices have wreaked on nature, climate change, global environmental policies, communities and people’s lives.
Claudius Schulze decided to examine the way natural catastrophes and the threat of climate change affect the picturesque landscape you’ve probably seen a million times before on postcards and in vacation photo albums. The photographer packed his 4×5 large format camera into a van, along with his cat, and took a 31 thousand miles journey along the coast of Europe in order to raise awareness of natural disaster management’s influence on the shape of landscapes.
Mandy Barker, an award-winning British photographer, recipient of e.g. IPA and Lens Culture Earth Award, specializes in aerial shots of oceanic plastic debris depicted as “marine creatures.” Her works were exhibited at such institutions as the Aperture Foundation in NYC, the Victoria & Albert Museum and Photographers’ Gallery in London.
Another esteemed guest of Fotofestiwal will be Dornith Doherty, a Guggenheim Foundation Fellow. For a decade, she has studied the largest seed banks in the world in collaboration with renown biologists. Her impressive oeuvre encompasses, for instance, the series of intriguing x-ray images of seeds.
One of the festival exhibitions presents “Christmas Island, Naturally,” an art project of Robert Zhao Renhui, a Singaporean visual artist whose series of photographs portrays the natural environment of animals and plants. The founder of the Institute of Critical Zoologists is well-versed in the most recent developments in biological research, as well as the role of nature in the equivocal and marginal aspects of human life. Robert works together with scientists, zoologists and botanists, which to be fair does not guarantee the authenticity of his photographs.
“Inter-species conservation” is a title of the exhibition featuring works of art by the Polish women artists: Joanna Rajkowska, Karolina Grzywnowicz and Anna Zagrodzka. Alesandra Jach, the show’s curator, examines the notion of Anthropocene and visual representation of nature in art.
Furthermore, the finalists of the Grand Prix Fotofestiwal 2018, selected from the total of 630 applicants living in 59 countries, will participate in their long-awaited joint exhibition. The unveiling of the finalists’ art projects is the most prominent and exciting event of the festival since the winner of the Main Prize (10 000,00 PLN) will be announced during the exhibition opening.
Apart from the abovementioned festival centers, a variety of associated events will be held in a majority art galleries and cultural institutions in Łodź, which became our official partners.
This year’s film programme also revolves around the theme of nature. A new feel-good film section features significant milestones in the history of nature-themed celluloid entertainment: from Percy Smith’s visual flair scored by Tindersticks and the BBC’s Planet Earth II, through Hitchcock’s classic “Birds” and independent films of San Francisco from the VHS era, to the midnight screenings. Our line-up features the latest documentaries about photographers, such as “Faces Places” by Agnès Varda, “Master and Tatyana,” a story about Vitas Luckus, and “Instant Dreams,” a film about people trying to keep their dreams of instant photography alive.
The special section devoted to our viewers’ educational experience, prepared in collaboration with the University of Łódź, embraces multimedia presentations, film screenings, temporal events and meetings with artists/experts in ecology. Additionally, a well-stocked reading room will give our audience members an open access to the artistic and scientific publications on nature, environment protection and sustainability.