(International festival of photography Kaunas Photo’07) Kotryna Džilavjanaitė
www.kamane.lt, 2007 10 31

Marco Ambrosi and Monica Dengo, “Body as a Dream”

Sungpil Han, “The Sea I have Dreamed of”

Charlotte Lybeer, “Fountains”

Algis Griškevičius, “Signs of the Zodiac”

Jean François Bérubé, “Childhood”

Olga Bersan, “Flying out from Oneself”

In brief: The extremely intensive fourth international festival of photography Kaunas Photo’07 has finished already. The event which offered spring and autumn sessions attracted by one-man, group exhibitions and nights of photography. The final chord was played in the large generalising exhibition “Mysteries, Secrets and Illusions”.


The festival initiated by the art photographer Mindaugas Kavaliauskas in 2004 became one of the main events for spreading ideas of contemporary photography in Lithuania. About one hundred authors were presented this year, the majority of them being foreigners. Even though the content of the festival was determined by a respectful committee, it left a rather controversial impression. The large number of authors often betrays the diverse index of quality. Therefore, Kaunas Photo’07, which lured into the whirlpool of exhibitions, did not astonish by really urgent topics or the abundance of new expression forms.


The subject of the festival was concentrated on the man, the statuses of soul, self-expression and surrounding environment. The British photographer Beverley Carruthers compares female portraits with forest landscapes and gives birth to many thoughts by this comparison: does the demonizing of women continue up till now? The “Signs of the Zodiac” of Algis Griškevičius attract by the inventively constructed sceneries, confusing scale and comic roles performed by the human being. Meanwhile, the Polish photographer Paweł Żak turns his attention to himself in a self-ironic manner. Some authors have turned attention to children and childish visions. The Canadian photographer Jean François Bérubé revealed this topic the most sensitively. His series “Childhood” shows sincere and nostalgic position of the artist.


There are many empty spaces of nature, city or interior not hindered by the human being in the panorama of the festival. Claudio Gobbi (Italy) registered theatre backstage, Vytautas Stanionis – forlorn playing grounds, Alnis Stakle (Latvia) – grey cityscapes of dwelling suburbs. While some authors find meaning in boring industrial views (Dara Mc’Grath, Ireland) or sweet gardens (Brad Temkin, USA), others succeed in turning a banal motif into poetry, e.g., the Korean photographer Sungpil Han in the series “The Sea I have Dreamed of”.


As contemporary artists should, photographers demonstrate wide technological attitudes, balance on the border of other arts – graphics mostly. There were many authors who searched for perfect expression in the exhibitions. Their main objectives were to purify the form, grant painting and sculpture features to it, aesthetics to the motif. Such attitudes are followed by the Italian duet Marco Ambrozi and Monica Dengo (“Body as a Dream”), American photographer Maria Serventi (“Pillow Book”), Moldavian Olga Bersan (“Flying out from Oneself”). The works of Laimonas Jazukevičius shock by the paradox of the view and the content: the author exhibits impressive abstractions of exploding colours which are nothing else but cancer cells under the microscope lens. However, some authors got stuck in the form without developing fresher thoughts.


Even though the announcements of the festival testified persistently about photography celebrities or rising stars participating in the event, there were rather many scattered shots, meaningless thoughts and little creative ideas in some exhibitions. The Finnish "discovery" of international photo festivals Harri Pälviranta pictures heroes of street fights which would rather be suitable for pages of criminal news. Self-portraits of the Serbian artist Katarina Radovič betray the lack of social understanding. However, artists who thought in a more critical and deeper manner became more prominent in such a noise of the festival.


The Belgian photographer Charlotte Lybeer turns her eyes to luxurious nursing homes in the USA in which old people do not lack material wealth but are not needed by their children. The Australian photographer Graham Miller also develops the problem of longing and loneliness of a contemporary man in his “Suburban Melancholy”. The Austrian artist Reiner Riedler (Grand Prix of the festival) presents the cycle “Fake Holidays” in which he investigates the mass demand for tourism imitation – artificial tropical beaches, skiing routes or mountain rivers. The latter authors give hope that the festival Kaunas Photo will find ambitions to turn into a creative reactor in which art energy equal to nuclear power will boil.

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