Among various positive phenomena which make up the contemporary photographic scene in Poland one of the more important has been for about a decade the dynamic development of photographic education on an academic level. From a broader historical perspective it is a completely new situation in Polish photography, both in qualitative and quantitative terms. Today, one may take up photographic studies in many different high schools and colleges, public and private, artistic and nonartistic, in fulltime and extramural modes and on different, namely licentiate and M.A. levels. More and more numerous and better educated graduates, sometimes even still students of those colleges, gradually grow in importance and contribute significantly to the image of contemporary photography in Poland. The consequences of this phenomenon, which is undoubtedly positive and optimistic, may be observed even today and shall become still clearer in the next few years.
The current exhibition presented at the FF Gallery is an attempt at showing the works of students from one of the schools that initiated the aforementioned educational boom, namely the students of the Photographic Department of the State Higher School of Film, Television and Theatre in úĄdč, often abbreviated as the Film School. Since 1992 extramural photographic studies have been offered there, initially on licentiate level and for the last three years also on M.A. level.
Among the works selected for the exhibition we will find both photographs connected with the realization of the programme of both modes of studies, presented at final examinations, as well as photographs that are examples of independent creative work, completed during the authors' studies but not directly connected with them. The selection is limited to the past two years (with the academic year 2003-2004 conceived as last year) and aims at showing the current state of abilities and state mind of students and this year's graduates of photographic studies at the Film School.
Every artistic school that educates future photographers possesses its specific character. The common opinion concerning the specific character of the Film School in circulation in the outside world is that documentary and reportage photography dominates there. Our exhibition proves that this is not so, though it was not the aim of the organizers to make this point. Indeed, the show reflects the variety and diversity of photographic studies in this school. Their nature is so varied and diverse not only due to the fact that artistic attitudes and spheres of art within the range of interest of the teachers are themselves diverse, but also due to the sheer fact that photographic studies are part of the programme in the school which educates future film and television artists. Close contact of future photographers who create singular pictures (based on an optical image) with moving pictures undoubtedly broadens their awareness of what the photographic medium is. It is also an opportunity to confront the results of the use of those tools of description and creative interpretation of the world that are so different and yet have very many features in common. Perhaps this is one of the sources of the stylistic and technological diversity of presented works which freely enter territories lying on the fringe of disciplines and genres.
The organizers hope that this selection, whose criterion was solely artistic value of the works, might change the common opinion of photography in the Film School as a school in which documentary and reportage photography dominates. The scope of the problems presented and the diversity of solutions visible in the set of photographs presented here shows that all labels used to describe living phenomena are usually illusive and erroneous. Both traditional forms of artistic photography and attempts at reaching beyond them, in the direction of searching and experimenting on the borderline between various genres and artistic disciplines, seem in good condition, judging by the works of students from the school in question.
This exhibition also reveals a certain feature of contemporary artistic situation namely the swiftness with which the latest trends and phenomena find their way to enter artistic schools. This fact is characterized, for example, by combining various conventions, styles and technologies. Such eclecticism is a feature of most works presented here, as well as of contemporary art in general. Young artists of today are quicker and more versatile to acquire what is fashionable in current art. They also seem to be more open and absorptive in the face of all kinds of novelties. This does not mean, however, that traditional forms of artistic photography have been rejected or neglected, which our exhibition certainly confirms.
Every selection, especially when it concerns works of art, is marked by subjective elements and can never achieve the status of comprehensive and perfectly balanced representation od what it reflects. Therefore, our exposition is also the result of the organizers' wish to include the most representative creative attitudes and the circumstances accompanying the organization of this event.
For most of the authors taking part in this presentation it is the first or one of the first tests of their abilities in a situation which resembles their future ordeals in the world of art. It also creates an opportunity to face the public in a renowned photographic gallery. The value of this presentation is thus manifold, both for the authors and the organizers who also happen to be their teachers as well as for the public. The former can in this way distance themselves from their works and see them from a quite different perspective than before, confronted with the works of other young artists. The latter can see the results of the process of forming artistic individualities from a broader perspective, the process in which they participate and for which they are at least partly responsible. As far as the public is concerned, the set of works presented here seems to herald what may soon appear on our artistic scene.
Those positive aspects of contemporary situation of photography in Poland, mentioned in the beginning, concerning the accessibility and diversity of photographic studies, are accompanied by certain difficulties concerning the professional initiation of young graduates and the difficulties they have in reaching the public. However, in this respect quick, positive and meaningful changes are taking place in our country and we should stress they are often the result of the initiatives undertaken by young photographers themselves and their peers who come to their aid. Our exhibition, on its modest scale, is another form of supporting those efforts, as it gives young artists the chance to begin a career, to take part in an exhibition which is but a test trial, although it takes place in professional circumstances and the atmosphere of sympathy and hope that always ought to accompany especially young artists.