Women Photographers Win in 2013
#photography & visual arts
no-image, Women Photographers Win in 2013
The past year in Polish photography proved that female photographers are a force to be reckoned with, breaking the masculine-dominated mold of the field. Culture.pl celebrates the women who have bravely taken up the calling and made an unforgettable impact - today and yesterday.
Ilona Szwarc, "Kayla" from the "American Girls" series, 2012, courtesy of the artist
The year kicked off with the ground-breaking announcement that Anna Bedyńska and Ilona Szwarc were among the winners of the World Press Photo competition. Bedyńska's dreamy portrait of Zuzia, a girl afflicted with albinism, won the young photographer third place in the People - Staged Portraits Single category. Szwarc won third place in the People - Observed Portraits Single category for her portrait of a Boston girl posing with her "American Doll". The win ushered in a wave of interest in both photographers' work, with exhibitions and commissions coming in from their native Poland and abroad.
Anna Bedyńska, "Zuzia", courtesy of World Press Phot
The 'discovery of the year' was easily Karolina Jonderko's prize-winning series titled Lost, depicting the empty rooms of missing persons, and self-portraits of Jonderko wearing her deceased mother's clothing. Jonderko comes from the south of Poland. This year the 28-year-old was awarded first place in the Grand Press Photo competition (in the People category) and the Photo Annual Award 2013. She was also among the finalists of the International Photography Awards, her works exhibited at the 20th edition of the Noorderlicht Photofestival in Holland. Her works are formally straightforward from an aesthetic perspective, yet the emotions loaded within them impact the spectator in a meaningful way.
Karolina Jonderko, Napo Images, from the "Lost",series, courtesy of Grand Press Photo 2013
Renata Dąbrowska took a real stab at answering the question of 'What's in a name' with her well-noted series of portraits of women all connected by a single detail - they, too, are all named Renata Dąbrowska. Originally from the Tricity area in the north, Dąbrowska located her nominal doppelgangers all over the country. Agnieszka Rayss, on the other hand, went east to photograph Belarus' women war veterans. At home in Poland, she paid a poetic tribute to theVistula River that runs through the heart of the nation. Rayss is among the photographers of Sputnik Photos who set out to explore the reality behind 'the last dictatorship in Europe' and capture images of that enigmatic nation and its people. The images were published in a collection titled Stand By / За Беларусь.
As Poland and the world discovered the fresh talents of the young generation of women photographers this year, some also looked back to the pioneers of the genre. The legendary lives and images of Maria Chrząszczowa, Zofia Chomętowska were celebrated by the Archaeology of Photography Foundation gallery in Warsaw, reviving their historic footage of a battered capital getting back on its feet just after World War 2.
This year the KARTA Centre Foundation released an album of 250 photographs by one of the most intriguing Polish women photographers of the 20th century - Irena Jarosińska. As one of the first photo-reporters of the age, she was known to sleep in the dark room. The Museum of the History of Photography in Kraków highlighted the works of another brilliant woman whose day job was as a pharmacist in Limanowo - Klementyna Zubrzycka.
The Visual Art Foundation (Fundacja Sztuk Wizualnych), in collaboration with the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, Museum in Gliwice and Zofia Rydet Foundation came up with an unprecedented initiative to digitalise a great majority of the works of Zofia Rydet. 17,000 images taken between 1978-1997 were scanned, forming a monumental platform for photographical and sociological reasearch based on Rydet's Sociological Record. The project is considered among the most insightful and well-executed photographic series of post-war Poland. The selected images come from a collection of 30,000 black-and-white photographs of people and places of the Polish countryside. In early December the site zofiarydet.com was launched, making all the images in this unique collection available to the public.
The pioneers of reportage photography were celebrated this past year with several major exhibitions, including the National Museum's spotlight on the star photoreporters of Świat magazine - Konstantt Jarochowski, Jan Kosidowski, Wiesław Prażucha and Władysław Sławny). The Zachęta National Gallery of Art presented the works of Romuald Broniarek, AleksanderJałosiński, Bogdan Łopieński, Jan Morek, Wojciech Plewiński and Tadeusz Rolke, along with an album of photographs by the masuline representatives of the genre.
Poland keeps track of developments in American and world photography. Highlights include this year's exhibition at the Zachęta National Gallery, featuring the photographs of David LaChapelle and William Klein, while the Leica Gallery in Warsaw presented the legendary photographs of Elliott Erwitt and today's Jacob Aue Sobol.
The youngest generation of world-class photographers have begun taking the reigns to publish their own works via various self-publishing projects in limited-editioncollections. Such publications reflect the intricate craftsmanship that goes into marrying photography with album design. The most significant releases of the year include Adam Pańczuk's Karczeby. His subject is the the Karczeb people, who inhabit the eastern lands of Poland. The word denotes their dialect - a mixture of Polish and Belorussian - and their nature, as the word describes the remains of a tree that has been cut down - a stump with roots, which remains planted in the ground. The Karczebs cleared forests by hand in order to grow crops, and were known for resisting pressure in the Stalinist era to leave their lands - a devotion that many paid for with their lives. Pańczuk published the series as a collection of 550 copies in a bilingual Polish-English edition. His earlier works have been distinguished with awards at the 2011 Pictures of the Year International, 2009Magnum Expression Awards, 2009 Grand Press Photo, 2009 Sony World Photography Awards and 2006 National Geographic Awards. More information on the potographer and the project at www.adampanczuk.pl. Other noteworthy collections include Sputnik Photos' Standy by was among the albums singled out at this year's Paris Photo (following the previous year's success of Sputnik Photo's release of Rafał Milach's 7 Rooms at the same event) and Michał Łuczak's documentation of the demolition of the main train station in Katowice, titled Brutal. There were so many great photography albums this year that a defunct competition for the best Photography Publication of the Year was reactivated after 4 years of inactivity. First prize was awarded to the Sputnik Photos collective in June for a series of photographs depicting how the Vistula River has impacted the identity of Warsaw residents.
In October 2013 the 11th edition of the Collectors' Photography auction took place (coordinated by photographer Katarzyna Sagatowska). This year 60% of the works on offer were bidded on, fetching prices well above the starting figures, an indication that Poland may well be on its way to joining the global market for art photography.
Author: Anna Cymer. Translated (with edits): by Agnes Monod-Gayraud.