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Time in Photography

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Now is between the Past and the Future.

In photography, Time has always been one of the main “ingredients”. The subject has caused numerous discussions which resulted in articles, seminars, exhibitions, albums and festival editions. Every other moment captured in photography is a fraction of time. While some photographs speak even more about time and explore its issues more than others.

The abundance of contemporary photographic production of “before – after” is top of the iceberg, showing the increasing popular interest in photography, as an excellent proof of change. This particular type of recordings of the shift or the change from natural to produced, from empty to constructed, takes its origins in the photography of the industrial era of mid and late 19th century. Examples of excellence of the genre could be numerous photographic project in Paris. The most famous is a sequence of pictures by Louis-Emile Durandelle, showing the growth of Eiffel Tower, shot from the same point of view, now often found and reviewed in the blog-spots of Internet folklore.

Photography of modern inspiration of the 1920s and 1930s was emphasizing the objects of its time as symbols of power of the present and vectors towards the future (from Constructivism to Sachlichkeit). Commercial photographic recordings of signs of time started nourishing appetites of the users and buyers, stating that “the new” rules over “the old”. In the 1920s it was evident that photography which perfectly translates the signs of time, sells better.

Another trend, the quest for the signs of the past in the present, remains a cross-generational tradition among photographers, who as if painters of Romanticism, fulfill their social, ethnic or spiritual duties by recording the objects gone, traditions, remains of the to-be-gone or the consequences of the loss. This is omnipresent in the 20th century European photography, starting by Atget in the vanishing old Paris in the beginning of the 2oth century and continuing up till 1990’s, when the photographers of the Lithuanian School focus on country markets,religious holidays and similar issues. In this model, photographers sweep away the signs of present time and clear the way for the authenticity of the past.

The artistic program of KAUNAS PHOTO DAYS 06 seeks to discover the revelations of contemporary photographers on Time, and more precisely, to create an overview on the up-to-date photography about the phenomenon of Time.

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It comes to evidence that contemporary photographers obey to the reflection of the breath of globalization and tend to grasp the sense of age, time of year, day or moment. Today’s photography is more private than ever, it explores individual emotions, produced by the oscillations of collective moods, weightlessness in transitory circumstances, visualizations of state of mind.

The vanishing timely motives of physical destruction of old objects, dilapidated architecture, portraits of deeply wrinkled faces and other iconic symbols of the past give an open way to straighter photography, in which the sense of time is encrypted in artist’s private experience of the present. The lead roles are given to changes, transitions, dynamics,inertia, waiting, with no particular relation with the past nor the future…Quite naturally, these motives arouse interest in photograph, whose impatient spectator would say: “what’s next to happen?”

And this is speaking about the content of an individual picture. But if we take a more global look, the questions might turn into the new ones. Will a photograph, to be born today in a viewfinder of the camera, bounce back to its roots and repeat the fetishism of the object, the objectivity etc. or turn  into something unseen? Is the history of photography taking a loop?..


NORDIC TIME. The Honourable Guest – Nordic photography on Time.

Petri ANTTONEN-ADiceAndAFeatherOK
Petri Anttonen (Finland) A Dice and Feather #10, Helsinki, 1993

Nordic Time is a series of exhibitions at KAUNAS PHOTO DAYS 06helping us unveil the Nordic mentality and discover the originality of art creators and the abundance of themes, and tight bonds between photography and society.

The undoubted star of the festival Astrid KRUSE JENSEN from Denmark presents her impressive series “Hypernatural”, depicting the views of Icelandic open pools, where summer meets winter, ant the long pose of the exposure makes the water freeze. The documentary precision, mysterious lighting, and large-format prints award us hyper realistic impressions and invite us for swim. Caution risk of cold.

Finnish photographer Wilma HURSKAINEN, has already earned her recognition with an autobiographic series of pictures of herself and her sisters, called “Growth”. This work is a continuation of a family album, which was started by the father. Childhood pictures of the four sisters join the newer ones of sisters, meeting in the same place, but in a time distance of fifteen years or more.

Swedish Maria ARNELL comes up with a premiere work in progress, showing its first steps. Photographer found her own approach to four sisters. The sisters of her choise are neither girls nor very young women, but Sinko sisters of mature age from Kecskemet, Hungary.

Danish artist Pernille KOLDBECH FICH follows up with a story of different sisters. She photographs a closed community of women of elderly age. Her transcend visions reflect the unique sense of time flows. The Rebrandtic light and minimalist surroundings, emphasizes the ritualism of family occasions.

Photographer inventor Petri ANTTONEN (Finland) engineered a special camera. A small gap of the shutter, opening the passage of light to film, moves extremely slowly, fragmenting the moving objects into graphic pieces, as if drawing the visualization of laws of physics, applicable to every subject: animals, cars, sea water, etc.

The treasure of historic photography – Borg MESCH (Sweden), documentary pictures of one photographer about the conquest of the Wild North of the first decades of the 20th century draws numerous parallels with the pictorial story of the Wild West. Being aware of the photographic expressions that rose in America following the railway, Borg MESCH spent two decades, employing the existing styles, approaches and themes in his lifetime project of Sweden’s penetration northwards. In his pictures, the railway blazes its trail to the North around woods that becomes hills, the hills turn into settlements and towns, the railway stops where the ethnic locals are encountered.

Expressen magazine served as the main source of news and visual information for Swedes during the most part of the 20th century. During the pre-television era, the magazine was a creative platform for photographers, where among other projects unique examples of social advertising were produced.

EURO-Asia. The re-merging continent

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Stephanie Tetu (France) China-Haerbin-Ice sculptur festival, 2003

This project is a follow up at the Formu of Asian and European young photographers (Paris, Maison Europeene de la Photographie, November 2005), organised by Asia-Europe Foundation, where it was suggested that photographic reflections on Asia and Europe by young artists can be showed at KAUNAS PHOTO DAYS 06 in order to get in closer touch with fields of interests of rising photographers, when we speak about these two remote continents: Europe and Asia.

Euro-Asia aims to explore the signs and symbols of Europe and Asia, present in the lifestyle of Asia and Europe. The works of photographers, chosen through an open competition, guide us to the belief that bonds between the continents and their cultures are much stronger, more universal, and the tendencies of the cultural merge are less latent, the interest towards and the influence of Asia on us Europeans is more intense than ever.

Photographers question the directions, in which the changes are taking place under globalized conditions: leisure, consumption, usage, of technologies, popular and corporative cultures, transformation of meanings of brands, national , religious symbols, placed in unusual contexts. The best of conclusion we can make, is ask ourselves several questions. like “What is whose”, or “are we that different, as we had thought we were?..”

More about Kaunas Photo Days 06 here >>



Please find KAUNAS PHOTO DAYS 2006 catalog here >>

Web site of KAUNAS PHOTO DAYS here >>


Festival director & curator Mindaugas Kavaliauskas
Coordinator Dalia Šivickaitė
Technical implementation Aurelijus Madzeliauskas