Watching what’s developed

The Prague Post

Prague Photo Festival returns for the fourth year with its largest selection yet

Picture this: 30 galleries and 230 photographers. To see what’s developing from the best Czech photographers young and old, check out Prague Photo, on display for one week only at Galerie Mánes.

The program for this, the festival’s fourth year, is full, with exhibitors ranging from the Czech Center of Photography and the Professional Photographers Association of CZ to The Chemistry Gallery and Kant Publishing. Exhibition space is also given over to schools including FAMU, the Institute of Creative Photography and the University of West Bohemia in Plzeň. In addition, the winner of the UniCredit Bank Young Prague Photo Award will be announced during the festival, honoring a young photographer under the age of 35. Other events such as meetings with the artists, roundtable discussions and book signings round out the week.

“The goal of Prague Photo is to promote photography as a medium. Time goes by so fast; we want to preserve photography and help photographers in their work,” Iva Nesvadbová, executive director of Prague Photo, told The Prague Post. “Prague Photo helps photographers find commercial assistance, promote their work and maybe find unexpected opportunities like invitations to exhibit abroad.”

Prague Photo grew out of the annual Art Prague festival, which Nesvadbová directs. Organizers wanted a way to focus on photography while keeping painting, sculpture and other mediums part of Art Prague. Nesvadbová says the response from galleries and photographers has been terrific.

A great opportunity

“The impulse to create Art Prague was to provide a larger forum for all interested parties, and from the very beginning it enhanced and supported the interest of people,” she said. “It was to help the galleries and artists, but also to show the public a great range of art. Nothing like that existed on the Czech scene, and now we see the same thing with Prague Photo.”

Nesvadbová, who also owns Gambit Galerie, opened Gambit Photo, a second gallery specializing in photography, last October. She said it was a result of the great response her gallery received from the photos it displayed at last year’s Prague Photo.

“All the galleries have a good experience,” she said. “Five to six thousand people come to see Prague Photo in Mánes, but would never come to your small gallery.”

After the concentrated week in Mánes, the festival continues across town. Fifteen galleries and museums, including the Museum of Applied Arts, DOX Centre for Contemporary Art, Galerie Rudolfinum and the Gallery of Josef Sudek will be hosting photography exhibitions.

“We do this to support photography the rest of the month,” Nesvadbová said. “We were inspired by other European cities that regularly host photography months. We coordinate with the museums to host a photography exhibition at some point in April.”

Galerie Rudolfinum is no newcomer to Prague Photo. Marian Pliska, art historian and head of the Rudolfinum’s education department, believes that festivals such as Prague Photo are helpful to both the art and the artists.

“Through almost each and every one of our exhibitions, we try to arouse debates not only regarding its purpose and content, but also about the wider contexts that are important for our society,” Pliska said. “In addition to regular gallery operations, an event such as the Prague Photo Festival offers a forum for the refinement of opinions by interested experts, the media, publicists, etc.”

With 30 galleries exhibiting in Mánes the first week of April and more events scattered across town the rest of the month, photography lovers are in for a busy few weeks of gallery-hopping.

“It’s a great opportunity to see a big selection of photography. The view of the world from a 20- to 25-year-old is different from that of a 50-year-old,” Nesvadbová said. “Each exhibition is tremendously different.”