EVERY November, hundreds of photos flood Bratislava during the Month of Photography. This year, along with presenting the latest developments in photography in Central and Eastern Europe, the festival will focus on Italian photography.
“Last year, we had a large exhibition by Paulo Pellegrin, a top war photojournalist from Italy and the head of the Magnum Agency,” Václav Macek, the director of the Month of Photography festival told The Slovak Spectator. “The display was excellent.“
So the festival organisers chose Italy, whose photographic art is not very well-known in Slovakia, as the second focus of the 18th year of the festival.
“It is always good to know what is going on in other countries and other cultures,” Macek told The Slovak Spectator.
To create a comprehensive picture of Italian photography, the organisers are bringing five exhibitions presenting its historical, present and most recent trends.
The exhibition of Oliviero Toscani, known worldwide for designing controversial advertising campaigns for the Italian brand Benetton, will probably be the highlight of this section.
“We decided on Toscani because he is an excellent commercial photographer and because he is well known in Slovakia,” Macek said. “The presentation will be unconventional because Toscani is not a photographer for galleries and museums. We will present him at Hviezdoslavovo Square; there will be 50 billboards 2x3 metres in size.”
Toscani will arrive in Slovakia personally to open the exhibition as well as to give a lecture.
While Toscani will represent contemporary Italian photography, i.e. the period from the 1990s to the present, photos from the 1950s-1960s by Mario Giacomelli will represent the history of Italian photography.
“Giacomelli is a top documentary photographer,” said Macek. “He is at the forefront of the transition period from classical documentary photography to photography which is much more subjective.
The ambition of this exhibition is to show where the roots of modern Italian photography lie.”
The next display will present a photographer from the younger generation, Paolo Ventura, first recognised in 2003-2005.
“He is known for his ability to create atmosphere by building small model scenes in his studio and taking pictures of them,” said Macek. “It looks like documentary, but in principle it is stylisation.”
Bratislava will host his Winter Story, a kind of memorial to his childhood in northern Italy 20-30 years ago.
“It has an atmosphere of old Italian or American movies,” said Macek.
The collective exhibition Young Italian Photography will show the latest trends from the Italian scene.
The fifth exhibition will mark the 40th anniversary of the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact troops.
It displays photos taken by Alfonso Modonesi during his two-week visit to Czechoslovakia in October 1968.
“It is a historical-photographic project, something like Czechoslovakia through Italian eyes,” Macek explained.