Today’s Europe is defined by two tensions: the pull of the collective against the desires of the individual; the weight of history vs. the push to look towards the future. This year’s edition of the Fotografia, International Festival of Rome, focuses on the idea of portraiture and the way that photographs can communicate the relationship between individuals and their surroundings.

Headlining the festival’s program is a collective exhibition of four Emerging European Talents. Each of them, in their own way, convey the (attempted) escape of the individual from collectivity and history. The four photographers’ statements can be read below.

LensCulture is particularly proud to present these photographers since all of them have been previously featured in LensCulture and two of them have received awards, recognition and exposure through LensCulture competitions.

Karczeby, Artist’s Statement, Adam Panczuk:

In one of the dialects spoken in the east of Poland, which is a mixture of Polish and Belorussian, people strongly attached to the soil they have been cultivating for generations were called ”Karczebs.” With their bare hands Karczebs cleared forests in order to grow crops. The word Karczeb was also used to describe what remains after a tree is cut down—a trunk with roots, which remains stuck in the ground [a stump]. This also applied to people—it was not easy for the authorities to root them out from their land, even in the Stalinism times. The price they paid for their attachment to their soil was often their freedom or their life. After death, hurried nearby their farmland, a Karczeb himself became the soil, later cultivated by his descendants.

Read our book review of Karczeby, Panczuk’s wonderful photobook on the same topic.

Mod Couples, Artist’s Statement, Carlotta Cardana:

Mod Couples” is an ongoing personal project on couples in the contemporary Mod scene, a subculture that originated in Britain in the late 1950s and became very popular during the 1960s.

While their style is what catches the eye at first, my interest in developing this project goes well beyond their appearance. The subculture and all of its elements – the fashion, the music, the scooters… – only provide the framework for this series. From an outsider’s point of view, I am trying to get a glimpse of their identity beyond the “mask” and to portray them for who they are, rather than for what they wear. I decided to focus on couples because I am fascinated by the way their identities blend together to produce something larger than the sum of its parts.

The couples chose what to wear and where to be photographed: the world depicted in the pictures is entirely the world they have created for themselves.

Cardana’s series was named a finalist in the LensCulture Exposure Awards 2013. Read our full feature on her series.

First There Was Nothing, Artist’s Statement, Marius Schultz:

In most religions, trees are central to the idea of wisdom: the Tree of Knowledge or the Bodhi Tree for example. Trees are also essential to the idea life and the circle of life. In Genesis, there is the Tree of Life and in Norse mythology there is the world tree, Yggdrasil. But what do trees see?

My project is to discover the trees, their growth through the different seasons, while keeping a balance between beauty and reality in mind. Despite my mythical inspirations, I am not working as a painter or a teller of fairytales. I think of myself as a watcher of the daily world. Thus, the red haired girls represent the relationship between time and human reproduction (the human circle of life). Although trees are very important to me, a tree alone cannot speak without human presence.

The title of this project is ”First There Was Nothing”. I was first inspired by a Zen analogy which asks you to try and discover new things in the same forest that you pass through every day. Thus, many of the images were taken in the same place — practically in my backyard — but at different times, in different seasons, over the course of years and years.

Besides trees, I have always been fascinated by water. Whenever I am seeking calm, I return to the Norwegian waters. My images of the reeds and the water points to nature’s pictorial qualities. I think of the waves and the reeds as nature’s brushstrokes on the canvas. The randomness and abstraction of my water photographs combine the playful and poetic that is present in nature. Even though nature itself always changes, it also remains the same — there is an eternal playfulness in its being which I love.

In the end, whether photographing trees or water or people, I am trying to engage with the fundamental wholeness of nature, the way that things are linked together.

Schultz’s series won 1st prize in the LensCulture Portrait Awards 2014. See the full, award-winning series!

Familiar, Alex

“We recognize — or think we recognize — everything: situations, landscapes, people, who could be neighbors, friends, even family members. Nothing spectacular, but a gentle strangeness, attention paid to tiny details, moments suspended in time, variations in light when it becomes magical and surrounds everything with a familiar halo of unreality. Both realistic and mysterious, inexplicable and yet close, this universe is constructed pictorially — before devoting himself to photography, this artist was a painter — around colors that with the greatest prudence avoid describing, all the better to make themselves felt. The eye, never feeling attacked, plunges into an atmosphere devoid of roughness, there in a complete serenity to move about from detail to detail, to a pose, a moment of abandon, an acceptance, the fullness of a landscape, the fluidity of a sky when it meets the sea, the supple elegance of an interior that has become a still life. Close to us, close to our homes, should we decide to look at them, here is a succession of moments of light that exalt the beauty of the world and decline emotions.”

—Christian Caujolle

You can discover much more of Crétey-Systermans’ work through his LensCulture photographer’s profile.

The Emerging European Talents exhibition will run from October 10-31, 2014 at the
Officine Fotografice Roma. The opening will be on October 10, at 7 PM.