Fotograf Magazine

Traces and records

Funke’s kolín 2009

Autumn is usually full of photographic festivals. In Bratislava the annual Month of Photography takes place, in Paris there is Paris Photo and in Kolín there is the photographic festival called Funke’s Kolín. As regards its extent and the number of artists, this latter festival is the smallest of those mentioned, but perhaps it is the intimate atmosphere that makes it so pleasant. Thanks to its theme, which is different each year – yet always very clear – and the basis on which participating artists are chosen, the Funke’s Kolín Festival creates a compact impression.

This year’s festival was the eighth to take place since its founding in 1993. The theme that the organisers, or rather Jolana Havelková, Naďa Kováříková and Helena Musilová, chose for this year’s festival was Traces and Records. This was a theme that, in its own way, characterised the photographic medium as such. After all what is the difference between photographs and traces that connect us to the past. They are  but records of our lives, records speaking about all of society and its culture. The number of ways to approach the theme, Traces and Records, and in what degrees one could think of this, was shown in the works of participating  artists.

The selection of twenty-five exhibiting artists consisted of already- established artists, university and college students as well as self-taught photographers. There were also artists from abroad. One of the most important personalities at the festival was Jan Kubíček, a native of Kolín, whose artistic path had followed rather that of painter, graphic designer and objects artist. In the Kolín Regional Museum lesser known, yet no less interesting, parts of Kubíček’s works – consisting of photos and photograms dating back to 1962-1985 – were shown. One can find a certain connection in the works of self-made photographer, Jan Wojnar, who – in his conceptual works – uses the photographic medium in combination with drawing. A selection of his works, done in the 1980s, was shown at the Malá Gallery (Small Gallery) Na Hradbách.

The exhibit of the youngest festival participant, Jáchym Kliment – a student at the photography department at Prague’s FAMU, can be considered a certain juxtaposition or counterweight to these conceptual approaches. In a space normally inaccessible to the public called pod točnou (under the turntable) in Kolín’s Municipal Theatre he presented a series of sensitive, indeed dreamlike, landscape photos. This exhibit shown in combination with the expressive film, Ebb & Flow, shot on an 8 camera created an almost nostalgic impression. Just one floor above him in the Municipal Theatre the presentation, Rekonstrukce minulosti (Reconstruction of the Past) took place. Hidden behind this title were three video-art works by young artists, Petra Baráčková, Tereza Velíková and Marek Ther, along with the photo collection of Petra Malá. The common denominator of all four works was the construction of a story based on personal or fictitious memories.

As concerns the venues where individual exhibits were installed, the theatre was not the only alternative space. Festival visitors could come across exhibits in the Arton Bookshop (Lukáš Prokůpek, a student at the Photography Atelier at the Artistic-Industrial College), in the restaurant, Naivní anděl Naive Angel (Anna Gutová, a student of the Creative Photography Institute in Opava), in the synagogue (Beata Dlugosz, Mátyás Misetics, Jiří Šigut, Lucie Nimcová’s project from the Marian Kusik archive) or under the open sky on Charles Square – Karlovo náměstí (Igor Ševčuk).

Other sites, such as the cases of the D.I.V.O. Institute (Markéta Kinterová, Ivars Gravlejs) or the Nahoře Gallery (Ondřej Přibyl), would have been hard to find without the festival map. Festival attendance thus turned into a sort of pilgrimage or wandering, during which the viewer became acquainted with the hidden corners of Kolín. Provided it was not raining heavily, this was a good thing.

Funke‘s Kolín was not limited only to the City of Kolín this year. It also included  the  exhibit,  Traces  (Stopy),  in  the  Communication  Space in Školská Street 28 in Prague. This work was put together by artists, Ondřej Bouška, Kateřina Držková, Vojtěch Fröhlich, Tereza Králová, Jiří Šigut, Jan Šimánek, Miloš Šejn and Jan Wojnar.

On the web-page one can view the video that was created during a festival workshop led by Michaela Brachtlová and Jana Bezucha.

The eighth annual Funke‘s Kolín Festival has already closed. However, one can access thorough and exhaustive information about it in the well- put-together, Czech-English catalogue, where in addition to reproductions theoretical texts from curators of individual exhibits are printed as well as the overall concept of festival organisers.

Silvie Milková