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NOVEMBER - A MONTH DEDICATED TO THE ART OF PHOTOGRAPHY

A party of photos

"I DON'T believe in the visible. I believe in the invisible," says Duane Michals, an American photographer with Slovak roots, who is most interested in capturing things that cannot be seen in everyday life, such as life after death and the aura of sexuality.
Michals is one of the pioneers of stage photography and one of the creators of the school of photographic sequences. He is also the highlight of the 13th annual Month of Photography, which is running in Bratislava and a few of the capitals of surrounding countries throughout the month.
At the November 11 opening of his broad retrospective exhibition at the Pálffy Palace at 19 Panská, which was specially composed for Bratislava, Michals will receive the honorary doctorate of Bratislava's University of Fine Arts for his life's work.


IT IS hard to miss this year's festival as it is right in the streets.
photo: Ján Svrček

"I DON'T believe in the visible. I believe in the invisible," says Duane Michals, an American photographer with Slovak roots, who is most interested in capturing things that cannot be seen in everyday life, such as life after death and the aura of sexuality.

Michals is one of the pioneers of stage photography and one of the creators of the school of photographic sequences. He is also the highlight of the 13th annual Month of Photography, which is running in Bratislava and a few of the capitals of surrounding countries throughout the month.

At the November 11 opening of his broad retrospective exhibition at the Pálffy Palace at 19 Panská, which was specially composed for Bratislava, Michals will receive the honorary doctorate of Bratislava's University of Fine Arts for his life's work.

"Michals is one of the ten most significant photographers of the second half of the 20th century," said Václav Macek, the festival's director.

Other highlights of the festival are French photographer Robert Doisneau, whose poetic works are exhibited at the Slovak National Gallery; and Polish photographer Ryszard Horowitz, whose surrealist pictures can be seen at the Polish Institute.

Centred in Bratislava, the Month of Photography festival features more than 30 exhibitions of photographers from all around the world. Those who come from central and eastern Europe, though, create the core.


photo: Michaela Nociarová

"The festival's goal has not changed. It traditionally focuses on the photography of central and eastern Europe, and aims at pulling the photographs out of the museums and galleries in order to get them closer to the viewer," said Macek. "We want the festival to be a people's party."

For the first time in its history, the festival is holding an exhibition in an open space. Entitled In Out, it collected 120 works selected from the International Festival of Digital Picture 2003 in the Czech Republic, and has hung them from trees on Hviezdoslav Square. The large pictures are specially illuminated and will decorate the square for 24 hours a day until November 16.

Among other "must see" exhibitions, Macek points to the display of the winning photographs of the Fujifilm Euro Press Photo Awards 2003. The best European representatives in the world of press photography can be seen at the Dom umenia (House of Arts) on SNP Square.

"There are the 'eye flattering' photographs as well as drastic, very emotive pictures, which probably received the awards thanks to that emotiveness," said Peter Mračna, director of Fujifilm Slovakia.

Visitors to the exhibitions can find works by Spanish, Swedish, Canadian, Argentinean, Bulgarian, Croatian, Latvian, Russian, Hungarian, Czech, and Greek photographers. A collection of representative works by Serbian photographers is running under the title Current Serbian Photography at Pállfy Palace at 47 Zámocká.

Out of the exhibiting Slovaks, one should not miss the Slovakia 003 - Pictorial Report on the State of the Country by Lucia Nimcová at Profil Gallery. Organised by the Institute for Public Affairs (IVO) for the third time, the aim of the project is to complete "through the subjective, artistic view of documentary photography" one of the institute's principal products - the Comprehensive Report about Slovakia.


photo: Soňa Sadloňová

According to Miroslav Kollár from IVO, it was Nimcová's project Woman that captured the institute's commission, which then offered her the grant. "Nimcová has been working on the [IVO] project for two years. Thanks to the fact that, in her final choice, the artist selected her more intimate illustrated statements, this collection is also a comprehensive creator's statement - but this time on the 'State of a Woman' in Slovak society."

Another exhibition dealing with women's issues is Private Woman. A selection of photographic works by 17 Slovak female artists from one generation is exhibited at the House of Art at SNP Square.

"It offers an honest, detailed insight into what a woman of today is," said Macek.

While, on the one hand, the festival imports photographers from around the world into the country, on the other, it exports works by local artists abroad.

A retrospective exhibition of leading Slovak photographer Ján Krížik will run at the Slovak Institute in Budapest. Visitors to Vienna can enter the imaginary world of young photographer Soňa Sadloňová at Café Stein, or the poetry of Peter Župník at MuseumQuartier. Those in Prague can see the group exhibition The Portrait in Slovak Photography, running at the Slovak Institute.

Once you are at Bratislava's House of Arts, which houses most of the exhibitions, remember to visit the photographs by Joel Meyerowitz, who was the only photographer that received permission to shoot New York's Ground Zero after the September 11 attack.


photo: Soňa Sadloňová

"He captured the demolition and reconstruction works at the place where the World Trade Centre used to stand in a very compelling way," said Macek.

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