Festival Review: Photomonth in Krakow May 2009

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Photomonth in Krakow is one of the leading European photography festivals and one of the largest ongoing cultural events in Poland. In May 2009 the 7th edition presented over 30 individual and collective exhibitions throughout the charming city, in galleries, museums, cafes and post-industrial spaces. I got there late this year, and decided to stay three extra days, and I still didn’t get to see everything I wanted to see.
This year featured an especially ambitious and successful set of programs, including an in-depth look at photography from the Czech Republic, and a broad inquisitive look at the nature of photographic archives, public and private. These exhibitions were excellent, and we plan to share some of the best work here in Lens Culture, thanks to the generosity of the curators and the festival directors.
In addition to the formal programs, there were many other photography exhibits and events — altogether, nearly 70 events taking place in 30 locations all across Krakow.
To capture an up-to-the-minute snapshot of the global contemporary photography scene, an international jury (Inga Schneider, Roman Babjak, and Mikolaj Dlugosz) chose 15 winners from over 700 projects submitted to the festival’s MySpace website. Those winners were exhibited as part of the Off Program.
Other programs included workshops, meetings and lectures, documentary film screenings on famous photographers, a multimedia presentation showing transformations in Poland through the eyes of News Agency photographers, and a program with projections from Mediastorm and Magnum Photos, questioning the future of reportage.
So, Krakow was a photographic delight during the lovely month of May. Everything was super-organized with catalogs, maps, and exhibition notes in Polish and English. It was possible to walk everywhere, and the enthusiasm for photography was evident by the wide range of people who attended the exhibitions and events.
I heartily recommend that you plan a trip to Krakow next year for the festival. Give yourself at least several days to see everything and to enjoy the city itself. In the meantime, you can get more information, and buy a festival catalog, at the festival website: www.photomonth.com.
Here are just a few vintage images from the programs, plus some photos of the exhibition spaces (exhibition photos © by Bogdan Krężęl). Check back here for some more in-depth features from the festival soon.
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From the retrospective of Czech photographer Viktor Kolář, Ostrava, 1977

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From the retrospective of Czech photographer Viktor Kolář, Ostrava, 1980

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Jiři David, Roman Polański, from the series Hidden Image, 1991-1995.
Courtesy of Artist and Dominik Art Projects.

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Miroslav Tichý, Untitled, undated. © M. Tichý

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Arnold Odermatt, Oberdorf, 1964. Copyright © Urs Odermatt, Windisch (CH).
Courtesy: Springer & Winckler Galerie, Berlin (D)

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“Loos, Kramerm, me, Strupal, Strutz, Blei, Thaler and Brandt”, Nein, Onkel, Shots from Another Front 1938-1945
Archive of Contemporary Conflicts in London.

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Masao Yamamoto, #1515, from KAWA series

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