EXHIBITION ANNOUNCEMENT – ON PHOTOGRAPHY AT THE ACADEMY OF ARTS, OSIJEK

Pozivnica za izložbu o fotografiji na uaos

On Friday, December 1st, in the Gallery of Fine Arts, Osijek, an exhibition entitled On Photography at the Academy of Arts Osijek will be opened. The exhibition will include photography works of current and past students of The Academy, including myself, showing the amazing versatility and different approach to the photography medium. The exhibition is curated by the professor Vladimir Frelih.

Works from two of my photo series will be presented at the exhibition, Apartment (2016) and Untitled (2015)

https://www.facebook.com/events/2013404865653620/

Artists featured in the exhibition:

Adam Atila
Ana Petrović
Andrea Knezović
Damir Lesinger
Dina Lukić
Dora Tomić
Dražen Budimir
Ida Đurkić
Ivan Matančević
Ivana Jozić
Ivona Medarski
Josip Kaniža
Karlo Arnold
Kristina Marić
Krunoslav Dundović
Lucija Jakovina
Lucija Marić
Luka Brico
Marija Matić
Marija Mikulić Bošnjak
Martina Ižaković
Mirna Petrović
Mirna Pokorić
Momir Baborac
Robert Fišer
Tamara Čes
Zrinka Botić

Below, you can read the text by Leila Topić that provides further info about the exhibition and photography as an art medium.

Why study photography?

“The lens makes everyone a tourist in other people’s reality, and in the end, in its own.”

Susan Sontag: On Photography

In his text Digressions On Photographic Agony written in1972, American avant-garde artist, filmmaker and photographer Hollis Frampton was writing about the paradox of imaginary world captured by photography. In the text, Frampton describes the discovery of Atlantis where a large archive or old photographs was found. Considering that no one was particularly interested in the archive, the found photographs were distributed to archives and museums up until a young explorer started to analyze them. He determined that all of the photographs from the Atlantis archive were directed and staged to give an imaginary image of the world that never existed.

A similar narrative is contained in the movie Blade Runner where androids are given a false childhood along with photographic evidence of their imaginary past. When Frampton wrote his story, 45 years ago, it was a certain prediction, a vision of the world in which will live in today where an image is absolutely everything! Our civilization is saturated by photographs: from famous people who are famous because their photographs are omnipresent, politicians who kiss babies, to drones who record before and after bombs destroy a certain area. It seems that in such world photographs create events instead of recording them.

The proof of the power of the image/photograph is the corporative business of collecting and repurchasing archives; let’s mention Getty Images or Corbis owned by Bill Gates whose existence (and the usage price) has a big impact on the usage of the photographic image. Why? The answer is obvious; archives that are owned by a single person or a corporation control our memory and representation of the universe.

Let’s take a look how illustrated magazines that use the aforementioned stock photos look: they are full of photographs beautified by Photoshop, the world is full of beautiful people, heavenly landscapes and homes that are designed in a cool way. Even the misery and squalor has to look beautiful, if we remember frequent photographic motifs from Havana or recently, in the Guardian, a published spread about the ‘beauties’ of demolished Syrian cities. If photography was once connected to documenting sights and capturing ‘the deciding moments’, then today using photography in advertising takes a dominant role. Advertising and improved or imaginary photographs demand our undivided attention. That is an ideological reconstruction of a world that doesn’t exist, designed to keep the dominant status quo of the capitalistic production and support the craving for consumption.

Withal, visual studies are a recent dynamic discipline that asked important questions and offered the even more important answers about how to approach images and what are they telling us. That’s why the role of photography studies is important, because it helps to unmask and show the effects of photographic propaganda and the possibility of constructed photo-scenes serving the capital. Vladimir Frelih with the exhibition simply titled On Photography proves that it’s very important to learn how to analyze, observe, and master the language of the media and create photography. The works of the students who question their identities and analyze/construct the society are a good start for showing resistance to corporate photographs because they promote personal approach in viewing the world around us.

Student works vividly show how the professor Vladimir Frelih and the generations of his students managed to master the tasks like how to decide what to photograph, digital understanding and multi-disciplinarity of the photographic medium, communication, self-belief, the power of articulating and presenting projects, cooperation and self-analysis.  Those are the skills that not only enable them to be great artists but also great participants in the contemporary society.

On the other hand, photography is undoubtedly used as a certain proof of reality. It’s enough to remember unusually painful photographs that American soldiers captured inside the Iraqi Abu Ghraibu prison. Or the monstrous sights from concentration camps recorded after the liberation of its prisoners. I mention these photographs because they were used as truthful evidence of these events and in the end used as a legal proof for the conviction of the perpetrators. But it’s clear that there is no simple way of how to reconcile documentary and constructed nature of a photographic image.

One of the most significant photographers of contemporary art, Jeff Wall, gave a good formulation of the dual nature of photographic image when he wrote that there are two repeating myths about photography; one myth says that photography represents the truth and the other is that it doesn’t. And again, Frelih’s determination is very important here as well as the desire that the potential of student works presented at this exhibition developed between those two extremes; ‘truth and lies’ of the photographic image.

From the works created during ten years of devoted dialogue of the students and the professors of the Osijek’s UAOS, it is evident that a solid platform was made for the students, future artists, to transcribe and write the world while being aware that photography is made thanks to the camera and the decision only they make by pressing the camera shutter. Of course, they carry an artistic responsibility considering that we live in a civilization that wholeheartedly embraced the term ‘alternative fact’ and ‘post-truth’.

In Susan Sontag’s book On Photography which, I believe, deliberately shares the title with this exhibition, the author writes that photographers, when photography was ‘only’ a business, were considered to be keen observers, “scribers but not poets”. Today, when thanks to the availability of technology everybody can make a photograph, but not everybody can make a photographic artwork, On Photography exhibition shows that studying photography enables us to be closer to the poetic, artistic understanding of the world.

Leila Topić

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CROATIAN:

Zašto studirati fotografiju?

„Objektiv svakog čini turistom u stvarnosti drugih ljudi, a na koncu i u svojoj vlastitoj“

Susan Sontag „O fotografiji“

U svom tekstu  „Digresije o fotografskoj agoniji“ napisanom 1972. američki avangardni umjetnik, filmaš i fotograf  Hollis Frampton  pisao je o paradoksu imaginarnog svijeta zabilježenog fotografijom. U tekstu Frampton opisuje otkriće Atlantide u kojoj je pronađena i velika arhiva starih fotografija. S obzirom da nitko nije bio pretjerano zainteresiran za arhivu,  pronađene fotografije su podijeljene arhivima i muzejima sve dok ih nije počeo analizirati mladi istraživač.  On je ustvrdio da su sve fotografije iz arhive Atlantide režirane i uprizorene kako bi dale imaginarnu sliku svijeta kakav uistinu nikada nije postojao.  Sličnu pripovijest sadrži i film Blade Runner. Naime, tamo se androidima, replikantima u paketu sa lažnim djetinjstvom podmeću i fotografije kao dokaz njihove izmišljene prošlosti. Kada je Frampton pisao svoju pripovijest, prije četrdeset i pet godina, posrijedi je bilo stanovito pretkazanje, vizija svijeta u kakvom danas živimo u kojem je slika apsolutno sve! Naša je civilizacija  zasićena fotografijama: od slavnih osoba koje su slavne zato jer su njihove fotografije sveprisutne, preko političara koji ljube djecu pa do prizora koje dronovi snimaju prije i nakon što bombe razore određeno područje.  Čini se da u takvom svijetu fotografije stvaraju događaje a ne da ih bilježe.  Svojevrsni dokaz  o moći slike/fotografije jest i korporativni biznis prikupljanja i otkupa arhiva; spomenimo samo „Getty Images“ ili „Corbis“ u vlasništvu Billa Gatesa a čije postojanje (i cijena korištenja) imaju veliki utjecaj na uporabu fotografske slike. Zašto? Odgovor je očigledan; naime arhivi u vlasništvu jedne osobe odnosno korporacije upravljaju našom memorijom i reprezentacijom svijeta. Pogledajmo kako  izgledaju ilustrirani časopisi koji koriste spomenute photo stocks: prepuni su fotografija uljepšanih photoshopom, svijet je napućen lijepim ljudima, rajskim krajobrazima ili cool uređenim domovima. Čak i bijeda mora izgledati lijepo, ukoliko se prisjetimo čestih fotografskih motiva iz primjerice Havane ili nedavno, u the Guardianu, objavljene reportaže o „ljepotama“ porušenih sirijskih gradova. Ukoliko je nekoć fotografija bila povezana s dokumentiranjem prizora i hvatanjem „odlučujućih trenutaka“, utoliko danas oglašavanje fotografijom preuzima dominantnu ulogu. Oglašivačke odnosno unaprijeđene ili izmišljene fotografije zahtijevaju našu nepodijeljenu pažnju. Naime, posrijedi je ideološka konstrukcija nepostojećeg svijeta osmišljena kako bi se zadržao dominantan status quo kapitalističke proizvodnje i podržala žudnja potrošnje. Usto, vizualni studij recentna su dinamična disciplina  koja je postavila važna pitanja i ponudila još važnije odgovore  o tome kako pristupiti slikama i što nam one govore. Upravo je stoga neobično važna uloga studija fotografije koja pomaže u raskrinkavanju  odnosno p(r)okazivanju  učinaka fotografske propagandne i mogućnosti  konstruiranih foto-prizora u službi kapitala. Naime, Vladimir Frelih  izložbom jednostavno naslovljenom „O fotografiji“ dokazuje kako je važno naučiti analizirati, promatrati, ovladati jezikom medija i stvarati fotografiju. Upravo su radovi studenata koje propitaju vlastite identitetske mogućnosti i kamerom analiziraju/konstruiraju društvo dobar početak pružanja otpora  korporativnim fotografijama jer promiču osob(e)ni pristup promatranju svijeta kakvog nas okružuje.  Studentski radovi zorno prikazuju kako je  izvanrednom profesoru Vladimiru Frelihu i naraštajima njegovih studenata i studentica uspjelo savladati zadatke poput kako se donose odluke što fotografirati, digitalno razumijevanje i multidisciplinarnost fotografskog medija, komunikacija, vjera u same sebe, moć artikulacije za predstavljanje projekta, suradnja i  samoanaliza. Posrijedi su redom vještine koje im ne omogućuju samo da budu kvalitetni umjetnici nego i kvalitetni dionici suvremenog društva.

S druge pak strane,  fotografija, nesumnjivo, ipak služi kao stanoviti dokaz stvarnosti. Dovoljno se prisjetiti neobično mučnih prizora s fotografija koje su američki vojnici snimili u zatvoru, u iračkom Abu Ghraibu. Ili pak monstruoznih prizora iz koncentracijskih logora snimljenih po oslobođenju njihovih uznika. Spominjem ove fotografije jer su poslužile kao istinski dokaz o događajima te na koncu korištene i kao pravni dokaz za osudu počinitelja. No jasno je, nema jednostavnog načina kako pomiriti i dokumentarnu i konstruiranu prirodu fotografske slike. Jedan od najznačajnijih fotografa suvremene umjetnosti Jeff Wall iznio je dobru formulaciju o dvostrukoj prirodi fotografske slike kada je napisao da postoje dva ponavljajuća mita o fotografiji; jedan mit govori da fotografija prikazuje istinu a drugi je mit da ju ne prikazuje. I opet, tu je važna Frelihova odlučnost i želja da se potencijali studentskih radova prikazanih na ovoj izložbi razvijaju između ta dva pola;“ istine i laži“ fotografske slike. Iz radova nastalih tijekom deset godina predanog dijaloga studenata i profesora Osječkog UAOS-a  razvidno je kako je stvorena solidna platforma kojom studenti, budući umjetnici transkribiraju i ispisuju svijet no istodobno svjesni su da je fotografija stvorena zahvaljujući svojstvima kamere i odluke koju donose samo oni pritiskom na okidač. Naravno,  i za to snose stanovitu umjetničku odgovornost s obzirom da živimo u civilizaciji koje je zdušno i objeručke prigrlila pojam „alternativnih činjenica“ i „post-istine“. U knjizi Susan Sontag „O fotografiji“  koja, vjerujem,  hotimice dijeli naziv s ovom izložbom autorica piše kako su fotografi nekoć, dok je fotografija bila „samo“ obrt, bili smatrani za pronicljive promatrače, „pisare ali  ne i pjesnike“. Danas kada zahvaljujući dostupnosti tehnologije svatko može napraviti fotografiju no ne može svatko napraviti fotografsko djelo, izložba „O fotografiji“ pokazuje, naposljetku, kako studirajući fotografiju postajemo korak bliže pjesničkom, dakle, umjetničkom poimanju svijeta.

Leila Topić

 

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