Marina Paulenka says her challenge is “putting artists first” as she takes over as artistic director of Unseen Amsterdam, which returns next weekend
The director and co-curator of the award-winning Organ Vida festival in Croatia – which this year devoted its programme to work by women – picks out the projects that interested her in 2018
Emma Bowkett, the acclaimed director of photography for the FT Weekend Magazine, picks out the projects that “inspired, educated, excited and/or challenged me personally” in 2018
“In the EU today, we take women’s rights for granted,” says Marina Paulenka, director of Organ Vida, a three-week international photography event held annually in Zagreb. Founded in 2008, the festival has always been driven by political context, and this year, for its 10th edition, its all-female team have chosen to emphasise female-identifying perspectives from around the globe.
“In a time of post-capitalist global turmoil, technological advancements, with the strengthening of rightwing extremism, the growing influence of religion that limits women’s rights again, and the semblance of democracy in the 21st century, we are facing a situation in which women must fight anew for the rights that had been won long ago,” Paulenka insists.
In our September 2018 issue, we interview Vanessa Winship and Hellen van Meene about the genesis of their latest works, and the backstory of death and rebirth that led them in new directions. We also speak to Marina Paulenka, the artistic director of Organ Vida festival in Croatia, about the 10th anniversary edition and its focus on the female gaze. Lucy Davies meets Winship at the Barbican Art Gallery, which is currently staging a mid-career retrospective of her work alongside Dorothea Lange. They discuss the photographer’s decision to step back from making pictures at the height of her success, and how she found her way back after the arrival of her first grandchild. “It has been a rebirth in a way,” she says, speaking about her new direction, “sort of freeing myself from the constraints of my former life. But it was also about conveying the immediacy with which my granddaughter sees the world.” Van Meene’s new series, which goes on show in Amsterdam this September, confronts the subject of death in an inherently personal …
The Guardian’s photo critic picks out his top five of the year, including Sohrab Hura’s installation The Lost Head & The Bird at The Nines, London during Peckham 24
The international photography festival in Croatia celebrates its ninth edition, hoping to unite audiences in a ‘divided’ world with its eclectic programme, which includes a Pieter Hugo retrospective; Dana Lixenberg’s award-winning Imperial Courts; and Dragana Jurisic’s elegiac pilgrimage through the former Yugoslavia, YU: The Lost Country
Central Slavonia’s quiet Požega Valley is home to Croatia’s only correctional facility for women. Here, 130 convicts repay their debt to society for crimes of varying villainy; from year-long terms for drug possession or theft to life sentences for murder. Marina Paulenka obtained special permission from the government to photograph the penitentiary, documenting this sensitive social issue over a period of 18 months. The main prison building was first erected at the tail-end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1915, initially a correctional institution for young orphan boys driven off track by petty crime. But, with the arrival of more young girls, it became exclusively female in 1925. The institute closed for a brief period in 1941 and later re-opened as the Požega Penitentiary that it is today. Paulenka’s collection is the first of its kind. It focuses on a hinterland of seemingly banal details that form a comprehensive study of the drudgery of incarceration. The photographs have a calmness of vision that seem to possess a very Balkan minimalism. Paulenka, who doubles up as the director …
In only its seventh year, Organ Vida has become one of the most intriguing contemporary photography festivals in Europe. Founded as an non-profit NGO in 2009, it is the only documentary photography festival in the Balkans, taking place annually in Zagreb, Croatia, this September. While it has grown in stature—Roger Ballen, Rob Hornstra and Hannah Starkey are among the jury members this year—the team hasn’t forgotten its lo-fi roots. “In Croatia, photography wasn’t recognised as art,” says Marina Paulenka, co-founder and director of the festival. We weren’t part of an international community, we didn’t have many exhibitions, we didn’t have the platforms; we just want to make something here.” The team is frighteningly young—the oldest member hasn’t even turned 30—and draws from a pool of Croatian photographers, graphic designers and artists. The central focus of the program is the exhibition of the main finalists, but also includes lectures, round-table discussions, artist talks, creative workshops, portfolio reviews, film screenings, music and theatre performances. The Klovićevi Dvori Gallery, one of Zagreb’s largest galleries, will be the focus of …