Worldwide openings this week

1. Register in order to get a username and a password.
2. Log in with your username and password.
3. Create your announcement online.

06 Oct 2011

Fotograf Festival: 'Endlessly Waiting' – Photography of the 1980s

'Endlessly Waiting' – Photography of the 1980s
Fotograf Gallery


On the 14th and the 15th of October, 2011, Symposium with international participation will be held at the French Institute.

Veronika Danhelova
+420 222 942 334

Fotograf Gallery
Skolska 28
110 00 Prague
Czech republic

Share this announcement on:  |

Two decades have now passed since the upheaval within Czech life and society caused by the Velvet Revolution and its aftermath, allowing enough distance to look back with detachment. The change of regime naturally also brought about a dramatic shift in Czech culture, including photography. Globalization stormed into the Czech scene, together with the mindset of marketing and other phenomena which have had an substantial impact on the local culture in general and on photography in particular.

Photography in the Czech context had until that point evolved according to two main lines, one drawing strongly on the inter-war avant-garde movement and motivated by an effort to maintain a distance from the official culture if only by dint of proclamation and the self-assertion of the right to experiment; the second tendency, that of documentary photography –but not only reportage – tackled the absurdity of the time, and by coining its own ironic take on society also formed a circle of initiated and often personally involved viewers.

At the end of the last decade of the Communist regime, by that stage pretty much burnt out by its own ineptitude, there began to appear new trends in emerging Czech photography, with Slovak students at the Prague Film School (FAMU) prominently involved. These were escapist post-Dada exploits, intended to provoke and to demolish the received taboos which the regime was no longer able to safeguard, and to breathe some life into the generally stale atmosphere.

Alongside this there existed other forms of opposition against the official art scene. Many conceptualists or performance artists used photography to document their actions and happenings. Some forms of staged photography were likewise based on performance, and there simultaneously evolved a new line in documentary photography, with a strong motivation which endowed it with its own ethos.

An exceptional figure of the local photography scene of the time was Jan Svoboda; a feature of his work which is often stressed was his deriving inspiration from Josef Sudek. However, what becomes increasingly visible with the benefit of hindsight is that his most distinct contribution was a seminal effort to liberate photography from the shackles of professional servitude, as promoted by the regime, in order to attain a status equal to the conceptual artists of the day, as exemplified by Stanislav Kolíbal. Already at the time, Svoboda began creating large-format prints, and his minimalist-conceptual approach became a paragon for the next generation of photographers, or rather for 'artists using photography' – to use the terminology that became fashionable in the early 1990s.

With the advent of freedom of information, and the ability to travel freely to the hitherto inaccessible countries of Western Europe and the USA, Czech photography found itself in an altogether different situation by the early 1990s. As in all other spheres of life, the country embarked on a frenzied period of globalization, attempting to quickly adapt to current trends - and photography lost much of its original motivation.

Thus paradoxically in retrospect the 1980s appears as the last period when photography was still isolated, but that it was precisely this fact which rendered it so authentically Czech (and Slovak).

Pavel Ba?ka
Artistic Director of the Fotograf festival

SYMPOSIUM: 14.+15. 10.

On the 14th and the 15th of October, 2011, Symposium with international participation will be held at the French Institute. The symposium will reflect the photography of the 80's from different points of view. Current opinions on the past photographic works will be introduced by prominent Czech and Slovak historians, theorists and critics of photography, art, and philosophy. The participation of well-known international experts will provide different perspective on time, social situation and artistic events of the 80's. The themes touch on the issue of media itself, to the current view of the amateur,documentary and art photography and offer a comparison of domestic and foreign production.

Vladimír Birgus, CZ
Antonín Dufek, CZ
Václav Macek, SL
Josef Moucha, CZ
Tomáš Pospěch, CZ
Miroslav Petříček, CZ
Noemi Smolíková, D
Evgeny Berezner, RF
Christian Caujolle, F
Jens Friis, DK
Harry Hardie, UK
Andreas Muller-Pohle, D
Hripssime Visser, NL
Wendy Watris a Frederick Baldwin, USA
Joanne Junga YANG, Korea