Documentary photography is alive and well in Slovenia, and forging active international links

portrait #2, Kajuhova series, Tomaž Črnej, 2011


Fotopub have already announced the dates for the 2012 Festival of Documentary Photography which will be linked to the European Capital of Culture programme in Maribor. Opening week 23 -28 of July 2012, so mark that in your calendar (or just remember to check your copy of the 2012 festival infographic…).


Every year since 2000 Fotopub has run successful international workshops exhibitions and mentoring programmes specifically for documentary photographers. Documentation from projects that happened in previous festivals (back to 2001) is available online to give an idea of the kinds of activities the festival covers including: screenings, discussions, exhibitions and workshops which are targeted to different levels of skill and experience, with both beginner and masterclass workshops. They have recently launched a new improved website which includes notices for upcoming international opportunities for photographers, one of which is the call for submissions deadline for the Thursday Award for young photographers (10-21 years of age) documentary series.


An international model similar to Fotopub is Association ISSP in Latvia. ISSP is specifically focussed on development of contemporary photography as a genre, including documentary photography. For photographers it is well worth bookmarking the ISSP website and checking their news regularly, at the moment there is a current call for applications (closing January 15) for emerging photographers to attend two subsidised workshops in a project titled Middle town: picturing the unspectacular.


International Summer School of Photography in Latvia is a high quality summer school running annually since 2006 with a range of themed workshops mentored by respected industry professionals. Celje based photographer Tomaž Črnej attended one of the five themed summer workshops at ISSP in Latvia under the mentorship of celebrated Argentinian artist Marcos López. The professional relationship that Črnej has developed with López has already proven fruitful with Črnej recently finishing collaborating intensively on a documentary film project with López as the subject titled Marcos López frente a la pizzara (Marcos López infront of blackboard). Črnej directed, co-filmed and co-edited the documentary (with Diego Frangi and Samo Letonja respectively). More details about the very recently completed film can be found on Reelport and it will be submitted to various documentary festivals for presentation.


Further promising developments arising from this new professional connection include the strong possibility of a workshop and exhibition in Slovenia by López during 2012, work is going on right now to try to make that a reality. Both of these outcomes show the strong professional benefits that workshop programmes like these can have well beyond the already valuable experience provided by the workshop itself.


Finally, on view right now in Celje until January 20 Tomaž Črnej‘s exhibition of his ongoing series Kajuhova opened on December 23Produced in collaboration with Gallery Plevnik-Kronkowska  the Kajuhova project demonstrates an integrated and innovative approach to social documentary photography with portraits of the occupants installed in the central stairway and halls of the apartment building Kajuhova 11 in Celje. As well as demonstrating an intelligent and ethical strategy for publishing a documentary project to its most relevant audience (something which occurs very rarely with documentary practice), the opening was a testament to the powerful potential of working in non gallery situations; packed with people from all generations enjoying each other’s company and reforging a sense of real community as the house occupants opened their doors and actively mingled for the first time in decades.


The opening of Kajuhova, Tomaž Črnej 2011

The series Kajuhova was shortlisted in 17th EMZIN Photography Competition and was previously exhibited with other shortlisted works in Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, January 2011. (NB: The 2012 EMZIN Photography Competition exhibition  will be on show soon at Cankarjev dom from 14 of February until 9 of March). If you are in Celje before the twentieth of this month and would like to see the work installed, go to Kajuhova 11 and ring the doorbells of Mr Črnej, Mr Milač or Mrs Bevc for entry to the building. A selection of the portraits in the project can also be found on the artists website.

Warm regards

Ali Bramwell





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