Monday, December 13, 2010

Poland, part 3

Belatedly, here is part 3 of the account of my recent Polish art trip.

A name that should be mentioned in any discussion on Polish photography is Karolina Lewandowska. Ms Lewandowska was a curator at the National Gallery where, among other shows, she was responsible for an exhibition with a related catalog about the history of female documentary photographers in Poland. It is a shame that this book is not distributed in the US as it would have a significant audience across a wide spectrum of the photo world. Her focus now is in a foundation,  Archeologia Fotografii, which is devoted to historical Polish photography. The foundation is doing important work to preserve whole archives of Polish photographers often rescued from family members or institutions who don't have the knowledge or facilities to care for them. They do this on a shoestring budget that would shock even a US non-profit. She confided to me that they lacked the funds to by a bigger cold storage unit needed to house a growing collection of archival negatives. When I asked how much was needed, I was astounded to learn that the figure was $1500! Philanthropically minded folks out there, you could have a significant impact on the preservation of a photographic culture for under 5 figures! Where else could you have such an effect for so little. Think about supporting them.

A related but separate entity is Galeria Asymetria run my Karolina's husband, Rafał Lewandowski. Asymetria is also concerned with historical Polish photographers - and shares a few names with Archeologia - but unlike the foundation they have works for sale and feature some artists not in the foundation. Their publishing program is also worth a look.

I was treated to a personal guided tour or Yours Gallery, one of the most high profile galleries in Warsaw. Yours has a dual mission of representing Polish photographers as well as introducing non-Polish artists to the Polish art scene. On the Polish side of the roster, I was particularly intrigued by a one-name artist called Bownik who is working on a series of portraits about online gamers. Some of the work is a little too beholden to Avedon's American West aesthetic, but overall it's a strong body of work which explores a particularly contemporary population. Check it out.

The strangest piece of serendipity evolved around my introduction to Katarzyna Majak. While I was in Bratislava, I met my Hungarian friend, Lilla Szasz, who wanted to introduce me to a friend of hers who was a reviewer at the Bratislava Photomonth portfolio reviews. When she asked me if I had ever heard of Katarzyna Majak, the answer was yes but from an unlikely source. I had just finished acting as a judge in Raandesk Gallery's online photo competition, and my fellow juror and I had just awarded Ms Majak with first place! I had the pleasure of informing Ms Majak that she had won the competition, and we made plans to meet in Warsaw in the coming days. Ms Majak wears many hats in the Polish art scene. She has a complex, multimedia art practice, curates shows, teaches, and writes for the only Polish photo magazine, Fotografia. By all means check out her work. I send thanks to her as her guidance and stewardship were invaluable to my trip.

In part 4, a visit with a photo-reportage collective called NAPO and an all-too-brief visit to Poznan.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A brief Poland report-related detour

Yes, parts 3 and 4 of my Polish trip are coming, as well as posts about my weekend in Berlin and Paris Photo. But in the meantime, I want to plug an exhibit curated by Martha Kirszenbaum. I met Martha in Warsaw where she's completing a curatorial residency at the Center for Contomporary Art. She has a Project coming up in Brooklyn, NY the 11th and 12th of December that sounds exciting and intriguing called The Missing Link. Check out the website here. Check out her amazing bio here. More Poland on the way soon.