Kaunas Photo Festival 2012 (1)
Blown Away with Eagerness ~
Two interesting projects which cross over between a photo festival and the internet were featured in my first day at Kaunas Photo Festival in Lithuania.
Firstly there is the world premiere of an exhibition (in the traditional pictures-on-the-wall sense) of work that has seen a meteoric rise in popularity since it was posted on FaceBook by a young Lithuanian photographer, Tadao Cern. Cern, who trained as an architect before turning to commercial photography, had established a successful business in the wedding and portraiture field. He decided that, to widen awareness of his work, he would create a series of images for FaceBook in the hope that they got circulated on the web.
The images are portraits made with the assistance of a high-power fan; so high-power that it deforms the flesh of the face, which is blown into comically grotesque forms that reveal just how malleable physiognomy can be. While the technique is not new (nor its racy title of ‘Blow Job’) the stark formality and regularity of the way the images were shot, creates a more direct tension with the viewer than other works in a similar vein, which have tended to be confused with too many concepts jostling for your attention.
Once uploaded, the images went viral with tens of thousands of FaceBook likes, hundreds of re-posts and scores of enquiries from the traditional news media worldwide… all within the first few days.
Mindaugas Kavaliauskas, the artistic director of the Kaunas festival, was introduced to the images by a colleague in France. Given that Tadao Cern, thanks to FaceBook, was fast becoming the best known contemporary photographer in Lithuania, Mindaugas invited him to present the work in an exhibition, and this was premiered tonight to an enthusiastic audience. The large-scale prints mounted on boards, each standing to attention, lined the two side walls of a long hall in a disused shoe factory (itself an artist enclave celebrating the Fluxus art movement and its Lithuanian inspiration, George Maciunas).
One of Tadao’s photographs is the signature image for the festival this year. In his opening-night floor talk with the artist, Mindaugas Kavaliauskas concluded that, while many young photographers have become famous as a result of exposure at photo festivals, in this case it was the festival that because famous because of the photographer!
You can see examples of Tadao Cern’s images here.
For information on Kaunas Photo Festival go here
The second cross-over is an ambitious project by Eager online magazine and photo agency. Red Line is a project growing from an open invitation to photographers to send in a self-portrait in which a red line passes horizontally across the frame. How this is achieved is part of the creative challenge. The aim is to produce the longest photographic series ever made, with the red line acting as both formal link and metaphor for connection.
Presenting at Kaunas a range of the images so far submitted from some 30 countries, the Eager representatives urged photographers from around the world to take part in this collective record-breaking and, importantly, art making, initiative.
More information on the Red Line project and examples of images thus far submitted can be found here.
upper: © Tadao Cern
middle: Kaunas Photo Festival poster 2012 © Kaunas Photo Festival; image © Tadao Cern
lower: © Red Line Project