Keine Grenze / No Borders – Collage by Jan Dziaczkowski with short socialist propaganda films, and platic bags 1985 – 1996, from the collection of Ivan Varchola
Exhibit opens Sunday, 14 November, 7pm at V8 Galerie. Artist Jan Dziaczkowski will be there.
14 November 2009 – 15 January 2010, V8 Galerie, Mohrenstraße 2, 50670 Cologne
With the work “Keine Grenze / No Borders”, Polsih artist Jan Dziaczkowski poses the question of how Western Europe would look if communism had spread westward, and the Iron Curtain had been drawn not along the Elbe but rather in Spain or Portugal.
Jan Dziaczkowski uses postcards of tourist attractions in major western cities, and inserts images of socialist buildings into them.
The collages are presented along with short, black-and-white film chronicles that document socialist reality. Commissioned by the Polish government, these propaganda films were always shown before the main features in cinemas to demonstrate how beautiful life was under communsim.
In the gallery`s second exhibition space, we are displaying 13 plastic bags from Slovakia dating from 1985 to 1996. Carefully collected and presented by Ivan Varchola, who is fascinated with form of visual culture in communism. The plastic bags represent a lifestyle that is reproduced today under the “Ostalgie” label.
With friendly support from the Gerneral Conulate of the Republic of Poland in Cologne, the CEE PhotoFund in Humene/Slovakia, the ZPAF i S-ka Gallery/Krakow and the Polish Film Production for Documentary and Feature Films (WFDiF)/Warsaw.
A consistente combination of life and art
by Arja Hyytiainen
“Journey” – “Medans” – “Distance Now” – “Normality”
Text by Inga Schneider
I saw Arja Hyytiainen’s work for the first time four years ago in Paris, in a rented exhibition room in one of the small streets in Belleville. In it, I discovered a world of emotions which from the very first moment seemed to mirror my feelings. Her photography is a consistent combination of life and art that represents various stories and emotions. Intimate human relations lead us on the floor board of Swedish country houses and rough casted private rooms in eastern European apartments, where the emotional world of the protagonist is created by a mattress on the floor and a sheet soaked through with the smell of the previous night.
Constantly travelling she experiences the meetings with the people on her parth with a personal intensity. In many ways her photographs are the visual diaries of our generation on a permanent travel. Looking at the images feels like a private encounter with Arja. Necessarily the question about her personal background becomes interesting. Born in Finland, she left her home country in 1995 to live in Sweden, Germany, Czech Republic and France. She did several travel to Poland, Moldovia, Hungary, Serbia, Italy and Switzerland. Since the year 2000 she has been documenting the life around her. For Arja the understanding of Documentary is always subjective: “I don’t think my work is correctly documentary by the definition. It’s subjective. It is based in true moments, hapenings and meetings, but a lot of the work is about editing, about selection.”
By attending the evolution of Arja’s work I can see stylistic variations. In the work “Medans” she was typewriting on prints using them as a material base for her emotional articulation. “Medans” means meanwhile in Swedish. The 16 images are the letter of “Adieu” to her beloved while leaving the idea of a steady life and continuing the journey. Her in-between situation is reflected through the train windows. “Medans” is part of the larger body of work “Journey” which includes 96 photographs from the travels in Europe.
“Journey has grown to be main trace of my life in Europe… The starting point for photography for me is keeping time. With a life on a constant change and moving, variations on reality has shaped my way of seeing – I have reconstructed what I have gone through and experienced to a subjective story in photographs.”
The work creats a flow, becoming your own journey. Her photographs are a love letter to those she meets on the journey, to a pigeon, a lunatic to the small of the last night. In “Distance Now” Black and White photographs mixed with colour create a narrative dramatury. The story tells about a painful distance to her once-loved boyfriend and its acceptation. It also mirrors a distance taking to herself. The auto-portaits are a central moment in the narration; empty places reffering to her absence.
“Normality” is a photographic study questioning “norm”. Arja worked with patients of a mental institution, following her concept on reality which she bought into a prearranged scenario. With photography she captured a moment – neither normal or lunatic, but that of a human being.
Over the years Arja follows the evolution of humanity in her work. She is entering a field in photography which earlier Anders Petersen and Daido Moriyama have marked. Like this two photographers she is attracted by the street milieu and underground figures and creates her personal cosmos out of it.
To capture the unspeakable —this is the theme that informs the entire oeuvre of Czech photographer, photographic theoretician, professor and curator Vladimír Birgus.
Birgus has been taking photographs since he was ten years old. He started out capturing images of theatre; then he took his camera into the streets and the cities, seeking and finding new scenes to photograph.
The people in his photos—mostly lone individuals who appear to have nothing to do with one another—look as if they had been dropped into a fictional space. An ordinary setting, perhaps a street, becomes unfamiliar. People move independently through this mysterious world of things, following rules that we do not know and cannot name.
Large, apparently geometric coloured surfaces and dominant shadow surfaces create the effect of an unrealistic atmosphere. The work almost seems to resemble montages.
But these images are not at all manipulated. In his photographs, Birgus connects elements of abstract painting and classical photojournalism, building tension through this combination of illusion and reality.
On display in the V8 Galerie are photographs from 1993-2008.
Two publications on “Something Unspeakable/ Cosi nevyslovitelného” by Vladimír Birgus were released by Kant in 2003 and 2004.
March 15th – May 1st 2009
Mohrenstrasse 2, 50670 Cologne
For three years, Warsaw-based photographer Przemysław Pokrycki has been traversing his country, stopping at one family gathering after another. By now he’s photographed about 80 festivities: baptisms, communion celebrations, weddings. Some take place in old-fashioned, simple community halls where they wash down their cream tarts with Pepsi-Cola served in paper cups; others are held in ostentatious halls with stucco ceilings and covered upholstery. His is a journey to the heart of Poland.
Pokrycki’s images show family members carrying out traditional rituals. “The whole environment reveals something about people’s social background. Even if I wore my best Armani suit, my surroundings would betray my origins,” says Przemysław Pokrycki, describing his work. In keeping with a tradition of Polish photography, he is creating a sociological archive of society, much as Polish photographer Zofia Rydet did through 1991.
Pokrycki explains his interest in his own country: “My photos are my way of describing the world around me. It’s a reality I know well, but sometimes it surprises me, too. I don’t seek to document extreme situations in my photography, like war, hunger or catastrophes. For me, the most exciting subject is society itself – especially given the changing conditions of daily life since the political changes of 1989.”
Przemysław Pokrycki was born in 1974 in Poland; he lives near Warsaw and works as a free-lance photographer for several Polish magazines. He studied photography at the film academy in Łódź. In 2007 and 2008 the “Rites of Passage” was shown during Krakow’s “Photomonth”; in 2007 Pokrycki also took part in a group show in Houston, Texas. His representative in Poland is the ZPAF i S-ka Gallery, Krakow.
23 January – 6 March 2009
Mohrenstraße 2, 50670 Cologne