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Białystok Interphoto

2019

From Past to Present. Limits of time.

 

Photography has been revealed […] in its most original, basic form: as a document and record of time. Each individual photograph retains some fraction of time, together they create an orderly record of its elapse.

Lech Lechowicz

We usually think of time in the simple categories of past, present and future. This is true in photography as well – once the camera’s lens captures a scene, the moment becomes a part of what already passed, a part of history. However, one could say that a photograph that was just taken refers to the present and the future. A picture from a far-off country may stir its beholder’s imagination and bring out a desire for travel – a desire for what lies ahead. The photographic process is ingrained in the future as well. As photosensitive material is exposed to light, it creates an invisible latent image, which is going to undergo processing to reveal its contents later. Take the time to recall Alexander Gardner’s famous portrait of Lewis Payne, on death row for his involvement in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. He is “alive” while the picture is being taken, yet his heartbeat will cease in a moment. To quote St. Augustine “if nothing passed away, there would be no past time; and if nothing were still coming, there would be no future time; and if there were nothing at all, there would be no present time.” In other words, the present moment is realized by that which was and that which will be, and a portrayal of “death” (after all, time is embalmed in photography) brings
a reflection on the inevitable.

Contrary to the Platonic theory of Ideas, “in photography, the presence of the thing […] is never metaphoric,” says Roland Barthes, and each thing depicted is considered the “private appearance of its referent.” It’s an impartial witness, a footprint, a slice of reality. Thusly we can take part in past events. We interact with the past not only in the cognitive-anthropological sense, but we also come face to face with what really was. Although mysterious and inaccessible, a photograph assures us of its subject’s existence. This certainty comes from an interpretation of “what-has-been”. It testifies to a presence within time. Although it restrains recollection, it is memorial of past moments. It makes the past as real as the present. And although the present “slips through our fingers”, in photography we can “take hold of the past.”

This year’s International Photography Festival Białystok INTERPHOTO features artists whose works, in many different aspects, relate to the heterogenous concepts of Time. Artists who work with the photographic medium in the context of linear flow and capture. Others, who reflect on the Barthesian “Punctum”, or who symbolically evoke sociohistorical elements in their image, as well as the artists whose vision and innovative frame influenced the contemporary forms of expression employed by successive generations.

Historical exhibitions, for example, Polish and Czech Avant-Garde or Subjective Photography in Polish Art, will expose the continuum of changes not only in the medium, but also in modern understanding and reception of art.

Presenting the public with postmodernist criticism on appropriation and record will uncover contemporary photography as a tool for control. From almost the very beginning of the modern age we are strongly linked to the past, not necessarily ours. An immobile picture captures time and becomes like an incorruptible memory. This trustworthiness brings out feelings of unwavering endurance and stability. Photography does not recollect the past, but ascertains it. What is seen in the picture truly did exist. A photograph is indisputable.

History that is recorded on celluloid or digitally is true. It serves as proof for historians, architects, sociologists, and all researchers of the past as well as private, personal, individual stories. Although, what is a “true” narrative. 

Human memories are temporary and individual. They slowly disperse and decay. They are obstructed by other events. They vanish with every cell, all of which are designed to end. During the INTERPHOTO Festival we will consider if the testimony of photography isn’t far superior to this. If it can be reproduced and become durable. If the camera should become humanity’s instrument in creating infallible and true memory that future generations could refer to.

 

“The true picture of the past flits by. The past can be seized only as an image that flashes up at the instant when it can be recognized and is never seen again.”

Walter Benjamin

 

Grzegorz Jarmocewicz

Artistic Director of INTERPHOTO

Białystok Interphoto Festival is interdisciplinary.

 

As a continuation of its predecessors, the Festival’s fourth edition aims to consolidate the international platform for exchange of experiences and thoughts of artists from Eastern and Western Europe, enabling cross-border dialogue not only for artists and people interested in photography, but also for the general public.

The festival promotes photography and related media that make up the contemporary form of visual expression.

In addition to the classic artists of this medium we present creators who employ modern themes and techniques, representing the neo avant-garde or utilizing their art in criticism. These presentations not only influence society’s understanding of photography or multimedia, but also expose the modern issues of a civilization absorbed in materialism. They develop sensitivity to moral dilemmas, public and individual change, suffering and political problems of both democratic countries and those governed by various regimes. They draw attention to ubiquitous oppression, McDonaldization, nationalistic threats and the climate, but also distinguish the progress of civilization achieved through scientific means.

The festival’s main subject is “From the Past to the Contemporary. The bounds of time.” Using the medium of photography, it will explore social phenomena that concerned the previous and the present generations from the period after Poland regained independence, through those emerging directly after 1945, to the present day.

One of the main objectives of the festival is also to strengthen the integration of different artistic communities and the international community on the supralocal level, covering not only Poland, but also Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Germany, and, in the future, many other countries, with particular emphasis on Eastern nations.

 

Białystok Interphoto 

is a recurrent festival at a high artistic level. It is held biennially, including not only exhibitions but also meetings, lectures, workshops, media shows, school competitions, works which couple photography with music or literature, location based games. The offers are aimed to groups of all ages. The festival has been developing continually since 2013 and it is becoming the most important event of this type expected by spectators, artists and critics not only in Poland, but also in East-central Europe.

The main subject of the festival, regardless of an edition, is A BORDER / A LIMIT, with all of the slogans belonging to it like Genius Loci or fields of individual experience (spiritual or experimental one).

Within the confines of this year’s edition we have planned to involve 200 artists, 10 curators, 15 jurors. There are going to be : 30 exhibitions, 4 workshops, 4 film displays, Portfolio Review and the competitions: INTERPHOTO GRAND PRIX, Street Art, Photography of the young, the show of the photos with live music, the scientific panel, 5 lectures, 30 meetings with the authors, an international stream press conference, solemn inauguration with an audience, the guests, the artists, the local authorities, the curators, the critics, the publishers; a picnic and a photographic walk. 

A lot of artists have been invited from Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Germany and the USA; the directors of photography festivals, the jurors and the critics from Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Great Britain and the USA. 

Two big corporate exhibitions are going to be organized with a cooperation with Museum of Art in Ołomuniec (The Czech Republic) and the Museum of Art in Łódź. 

The most important artists this year are going to be: Jaromír Funke, Jaroslav Rössler, František Drtikol, Eugen Wiškovský, Heikki Leis, Jiři Šigut, Walentyn Odnoviun, Vitus Saloshanka, Zofia Kulik, Janusz Maria Brzeski, Janina Mierzecka, Krystyna Gorazdowska, Aleksander Krzywobłocki, Jan Neuman, Kazimierz Podsadecki, Tadeusz Maciejko, Stefan Jasieński, Tadeusz Cyprian, Franciszek Groer, Jalu Kurek, Aleksander Zakrzewski, Witold Romer, Franciszka and Stefan Themersonowie, Andrzej Jerzy Lech, Mindugas Kavaliauskas, Georgs Avetisjans, Pavel Maria Smejkal, April Gertler, Wojciech Bruszewski, Zbigniew Dłubak, Edward Grochowicz, Edward Hartwig, Marian Kucharski, Jerzy Lewczyński, Zbigniew Łagocki, Irena Małek – Jarosińska, Wacław Nowak, Andrzej Pawłowski, Marek Piasecki, Paweł Pierściński, Józef Robakowski, Tadeusz Rolke, Zofia Rydet, Andrzej Różycki, Bronisław Schlabas, Jerzy Wardak, Andrzej Zborski.

The festival’s aim is to be a key to develop partnership with other countries of the region and Europe.