20 Years of Photography From Film School in Łodź Exhibition
11 October-24 November 2013
The task of a curator is a huge challenge, especially if one attempts to showcase the works of not one artist or group with a more or less precise artistic vision, but of an institution, which is heterogenic and fosters constant exploration – the Department of Photography at the Łódź Film School. For me – by profession a philosopher and artist rather than a curator – it was clear from the start that in order to cope with this task, I would have to establish a framework, which would help me to encompass the huge number of approaches – sometimes contradicting, sometimes complementing each other. Because of the short amount of time at my disposal – less than three months – right at the beginning I abandoned the idea to commemorate the twenty years of the Department using a classic, historical framework that would seem natural for the task at hand. For that, I would need at least a year of preparations. Another idea – to present mainly the works of the most eminent artists – seemed a bit unfair and not doing justice to the variety of directions, tendencies and artistic strategies present in the School. This is why I assumed a slightly perverse approach, and decided to look at these two decades through the prism of cataloging. We live in the era of digitalization; the database is growing at an astronomical pace. All information – visual as well – introduced into virtual reality, where we seem to spend more and more time, is gathered in ncreasingly capacious collections and catalogues under specific tags. Humans have a need to control reality, which manifests itself in the obsession of organizing, naming and cataloging; these tendencies serve to exercise authority, a subject covered by Michel Foucalt among others. But lately, these actions turn away from a purely authoritarian strategy and change into a strategy of simple sustainment. In the space of permanent communication and networking, tagging marks a method of dealing with the excess of information and stimuli. This strategy has one more important aspect – it is based on a process of mutual influence of various currents and tendencies. Cumulating data under a selected marker creates a peculiar spot in the web, which is naturally inclined to connect to other sets, catalogues or folders. It pertains to all kinds of data - images as well. Moreover, the fate of these (broadly understood) images, and their function in the world of digitalization and cataloging, seems particularly symptomatic. Every artistic action, any ideas, and individual or group explorations, commenced at the School in the past or present, concerned with working on images – influence the network of the world of audiovisual art. No means 5 of imaging that emerged in the twenty years of the Film School’s Photography Department are meaningless then; they all fit into a kind of neural network of onnections with other cultural tendencies and phenomena around the world. As a result of collective work – together with the invaluable Anna Kazimierczak and Anna M. Zarychta – in the school’s archives and with open submissions, as well as researching blogs and websites of our students and graduates, certain categories revealed themselves; we regarded them as a basis for the collection presented at this exhibition. We assembled 30 specific “tag clouds” – sets of works linked with particular aesthetic or semantic endencies; categories like, for example, “white”, “paradise”, “enumerations” or “the support comes first”. This list is, of course, open, and arbitrary to a degree – it constitutes the effect of our own associations and explorations. I can easily imagine connections that are entirely different. But the point of this project does not reside in an “autocratic” specification This strategy of curating is about relaying a message about the contemporary era of image (where hotography is still very important) – that the role and the function of an image in times of digitalization and Internet have been shifted. Now, it occupies a tag cloud, and the power of its effect does not reside in the individual “aura” of a specific frame, but rather in a certain category, which binds any given set of images; in its duplication and repetition, where images (to paraphrase the words of W.J.T. Mitchell) create a friction, a iscomfort, encourage us to rethink our space in the iconosphere.