We are presenting you with the fourth edition of Warsaw Art Photography Festival 2008. The festival fulfills its mission similarly to the previous years by the popularization of photography as the depiction of the record of artists activities, especially of young generation artists.

Only in the recent years photography took a dominant position in the contemporary culture. It had been fighting long for a recognition on artistic ground coming out from its sole domain in practical and utalitarian field. Since the seventies events promoting photography such as festivals, exhibitions and auctions have been more and more popular.Art galleries have opened, albums have been printed, new art schools and art departments have been created. Issues concerning this medium are also more frequently touched upon by writers, critics and art theorists. Photographic market has been developing very dynamically. All those phenomena have lately come to Poland as well. It is worth mentioning the most recent auctions of collectors’ photo specimen or festivals in various Polish cities: Cracow, Lodz, Poznan, Bielsko- Biala or ehibitions devoted to the world photography (“The city of shadows”, Yours Gallery) or to the Polish photography (“Polish women-photographers”, ZachetaGallery).

Success of photography is connected with a whole range of big events and transformations in politcs, society and culture from the previous century. Globalisation process, better access to and bigger flow of information (Internet, TV, telephones), eradication of borders and divisions, enhanced mobility as well as “nomadic” nature of artists and cosmopolitan character of their output are all signs of new times.

XX century was a period in which legitimacy of all rules
and values in fine arts was questioned. Doubts were cast on virtually every set aspect: a piece of art as a manual, individual act of creation; comprehension of the role, talent and intention of artists as well as the originality and authorship of their works (e.g. ready mades by Marcel Duchamp who makes a work of art the
artist’s choice). Photography stopped being perceived as “artistic creation” in the context of pictorialism which abandoned basic features typical of this medium and thanks to, among others, noble techniques and manual intervention in the print. Thus, it came closer to painting and graphic arts losing its autonomy paradoxically. From that moment on photography was valued not only for the mechanical way of recording, correctness and compositional accordance achieved through proper framing, chiaroscuro and colour aspects. After those thorough transformations which ocurred in the fields of visual arts, art and culture, since the sixties the role and the position of photography have been defined anew. The essence of photography does not lie in new technologies nor in the ability to use them, but in the artist’s creation, his/her taste, intelligence and the feeling of art, going beyond the set conventions, beyond the borders of the very medium.

Nowadays, both photographers and artists reach for abundant language of photography which allows for a diverse record of artistic expression. However, an artist-photographer immersed in the field of art applying the same techniques, uses this medium in a different manner than a photographer immersed in the field of photography. It is worth mentioning the efforts of photographers in XIX c. and at the beginning of the XX c. who continuously thwarted and reversed mimetic abilities of photography, the features which were appreaciated mostly by the artists. The way those two groups perceive photography in the context of modern art is still very divergent and distant from each other.

wapf focuses on the photographs which are to serve as a foundation for widening general thought on the picture and the definition of contemporary art.

Works of art presented at the festival show that the ambitions of young and mature artists have a common trace – depiction of the regularity, simplicity and everyday life. Attention of the artists goes in the direction of their own experiences, banality of the world which replace social history or global narration. They concentrate on a local dimension, intimacy, often triviality, mass culture phenomena, prevailing consumption and fetishization of
a commodity, traces of human intervention into nature, on “de-heroic” themes that have been a subject of secularization influencing the establishment of new relations with the world.

By a new interpretation of reality photography seems to be a dominant medium in the reflection over contemporariness. It is not rare that artists who freely profit by photographic techniques go beyond the formal perfection of a photograph. Through conscious use of “faults” (fuzzy picture, special framing, picture multiplications, inconsistency, composition that is seemingly to simple, banal contents) artists draw the viewers’ attention on nuances of a
seeming obviousness of a piece of art but not its material aspect.

IVth edition of wapf 2008 is an international event. It
was prepared through the cooperation with Higher Education Art Institutions in Italy (above all “Forma” - International Center of Photography in Milan) and important Polish institutions such as Italian Institute of Culture in Warsaw, Warsaw University, Zacheta Gallery, Centre of Contemporary Arts in Ujazdowski Castle and other Warsaw galleries. The festival’s main components have remained unchanged: it embraces the competition phase with artists under 35 as its participants and accompanying events: exhibitions depicting diverse methods of art values comprehension in contemporary photography. One of important items of agenda covers meetings and lectures by young promising Polish photographers, as well as by eminent English curators and photography critics (dr David Bate) and Italian representatives (Walter Guadagnini, Luca Andreoni, Francesco Zanot). They will be considering the position of photography in the post-modern art and the legitimacy of deliberations over a national aspect of this domain in the times of widespread globalisation, mobility of artists and cosmopolitan character of photography.

The festival encompasses several events which depict a huge variety in form, techniques, contents and themes in contemporary photography. We mostly focus on a wide use and popularity of photography among young Polish and Italian artists who seek innovative artistic and aesthetic solutions in this medium. Photos by mature artists offered by certain invited galleries reveal multi-faceted methods and well-considered aims of picture operation: its vital role in the perception of culture, art or the nearest surroundings, widening the borders of art and frontiers of artistic creation (e.g. the exhibition “At the beginning there was the script” Józef Bury, Grzegorz Klaman, Mikołaj Smoczyński, Edyta Wolska, Jerzy Wroński). We do not stay indifferent to a growing popularity of women-photographers of XX century (a meeting with the curator of the feminist oriented exhibition of women-documentalists) or a theme of women nudes in the Polish photography of XX century (a lecture by A. Mazur) and the output of young women-photographers (the ehibition of works by Katarzyna Sagatowska “Palace x 3”). We are presenting the works of eminent artists ( the exhibition of David Bate’s „Bungled memories”, Photography Circles from Gliwice) and the artists who do not fear brave formal search (Piotr Smolnicki, Paweł Nowak, Mariusz Gajewski).

wapf is not the next event of “a month of photography in ...” kind. It is a series of events with cautiously chosen intellectual contents characterized by fine aesthetic quality. WAPF is enriched by a theoretical thought on the condition of contemporary art photography.

We hope that the actions we have been taking during the festivals on a regular basis have had a positive impact on widening the discourse on delimiting the borders of art. We try to achieve that through the presentation of various methods of photography use and functioning within its limits.


Curator of the festival: Magdalena Durda-Dmitruk