The selected artists are Antonio Guerra (ES), David Biro (HU), Hien Hoang (VE/DE), Marta Pinto Machado (CV/PT), Tanja Engelberts (NL), Umberto Diecinove (IT), Yana Kononova (UA) and Yana Wernicke (DE). Each artist presented unique and diverse perspectives on the theme of ENERGY, their projects will be shown at Robert Capa Contemporary Photography Center (Budapest),PhotoIreland (Dublin), and FOTODOK (Utrecht).
The jury was really enthusiastic about the quality of all the submissions: “We received 116 incredibly strong submissions. We spent a few days preparing, carefully looking through all projects, and making our individual short and long lists. Later, we gathered twice online, and spent overall more than six hours reflecting and discussing the proposals. There were so many talented artists and incredible work submitted, and we genuinely thought we could make three different selections and exhibitions with what was on the table: concerning “concrete” energy, protest, spiritual healing, communities, or forces of nature.
With the finalists that we collectively selected, we emphasize the diversity of the approaches to the subject matter. While some projects talk about the destructive forces of energy in warfare or in extractivist society (Engelberts, Kononova), others explore existing strategies as possible solutions (Biro, Diecinove, Guerra), exemplify desirable companionships (Wernicke) and reflect on healing (Hoang). Finally, there is a perspective on how the colonial and capitalist structures shaped contemporary cities and how the energy of presence in these spaces could be a form of resistance (Machado).
It was important for us to see the relevance of the proposal and unique artistic voice, and at the same time to make a complementary selection, where projects are different and yet can connect in an exhibition space. Since the open call is aimed at the creation of an exhibition, it was important for us to see how artists work with the medium of photography, materiality, and installations. So you can find projects that are conducted following a documentary tradition (like Kononova who works with film and direct documentation). Others bring in VR experience (Hoang) or installations with the use of different elements of the subjects explored (Guerra). Narrative might be the key for particular projects (Diecinove), and on the other pole from that would be abstract work where form and concept are in the lead (Biro).
Finally, we wanted to make our selection critical including artists of different generations and stages of their careers, and give them equal opportunities. Last but not least, we largely enjoyed the process, the thoughtful and respectful discussion, and the unique chance to study all the amazing submitted projects. Many that we really liked didn’t make it to the final selection, but made it to our research internal lists, and definitely to our hearts.”
The Jury: Ángel Luis González and Julia Gelezova (PhotoIreland); Emese Mucsi (Robert Capa Contemporary Photography Center); Daria Tuminas (FOTODOK); and Pamela Peters (FOMU).
Below you will find a brief description of the selected proposals:
Antonio Guerra (ES), Raise the Earth, disappear (2023)
“Raise the Earth, disappear explores the limits between natural and cultural, creating an experience with the landscape and space interaction. In order to do that, I use photography as a means of creating a true illusion and an illusory capacity of the landscape as social construction, using to intervention and staging to reinterpret human and nature relationships. I am interested in the materiality and the transitory status of images in their relationship with objects and natural elements, from the physical and the symbolic. This allows me to expand its limits and to explore the landscape through concepts like reality or illusion and memory and transformation. The structure of the real is constantly called into question. Through a process of appropriation, I investigate the formal conditions of the natural in order to incorporate it into my visual work, in a continuous shift between shape and image that evades recognition and creates a sense of estrangement in the viewer."
Hien Hoang (VE/DE), Scent from heaven: wounded myth (2023)
“Scent from heaven: wounded myth. VR Installation: My father was a carpenter and always told me stories about trees, their wounds and scars. Often the damaged parts of the tree are thrown away. But with some trees, they can become something extraordinarily valuable - their scent is said to heal the soul and bring people closer to the gods. This is the agarwood - the central figure of my interdisciplinary project "Scent of Heaven: a wounded myth." Agarwood is often used in the perfume industry and is still a symbol of masculinity, wealth, and high society. However, it is the result of the suffering of the Aquilaria tree.The main goal of my project is to depict the pain of the tree and how its value changes depending on our perception.”
Tanja Engelberts (NL), Forgotten seas (2023)
"Forgotten Seas is the accumulation of seven years of research, a journey across the North Sea. The work is a photographic exploration of my archive, consisting of documentary photographs taken during trips on maintenance vessels and on the platforms, as well as historical images collected over the years. The photographs are combined with written anecdotes about life on an oil rig. Stories of people I met on the sea and my own travel experiences. Upon the waves we go. From optimism and the feeling that man had conquered nature in the fifties, to a more critical view on the fossil fuel industry and its future: the destruction of the first platforms. Forgotten Seas is a testament of seventy years of gas and oil drilling in the North Sea, an industrial landscape that is slowly disappearing."
Umberto Diecinove (IT), I N S C T S (2022)
"I N S C T S is project related to energy both literally and metaphorically. First of all the bioconversion insects provide is, at its very heart, an highly-efficient energy transformation process. During this process larval aggregation promotes energy efficiency by improving thermoregulation. This aggregation can be thought of as a collective behavior, almost a dance, in which individuals coordinate themselves to reach a common goal. And this brings up the metaphorically level. The world we live in is characterised by overconsumption and waste of resources in some countries, and food insecurity in others. Insects have the potential to address all of these issues by making the food system more circular, efficient and sustainable. With I N S C T S I want to play a part in giving visibility and voice to this new alternative future and amplify the potential of an empowering change."
David Biro (HU), PLANT (2019)
“The Sun is an indispensable primary light source, which enables the visual perception of our reality. Humanity has adapted to its cycle and behaviour with the help of modern technologies. Beyond satisfying the biological demands and the needs of ecosystems, it ensures the operation of technological means, thus these devices are, in fact, transmitters of sunshine. By domesticating it and manufacturing it with its utilization in mind, the light becomes an instrument, thus we will be capable to use it in various fields and bestow it with new functions. As a result, artificial light offers an alternative for us and is constantly shaping our lives through the extension of the options for its application. Mostly illuminating digital screens make up our almost tactile rapport to light, so that it transmits visual surfaces as a medium and turns from an instrument into a primary information source again. I examine light as a significant root of life and technology. In my work, I focus on understanding the rapport of natural and artificial light, and he presents this by using the potentials of photography for mediation."
Yana Kononova (UA), X-Scapes (2022)
"Since March 2022, I have been working on an artistic study of the military aggression unleashed by the Russian Federation against Ukraine. ‘X-Scapes’ is a series of landscapes created by the thermal action of explosions of various nature and the blastwave on materials. They speak to the trauma and paradoxes of war. I worked in the north of the Kyiv region, at industrial and warehouse locations that were subjected to an air attack that caused the most severe destruction and deformation of materials. Images of mangled metal affected by the thermal shock wonder about the nature of techniques in landscapes where the distinction between technological utopia and dystopia that is contemporary technical warfare is blurred."
Yana Wernicke (DE), Companions (2023)
"The idea of species loneliness is at the core of this project, in which I follow Rosina and Julie, two young women who have established profound relationships with animals that are not normally considered human companions, but solely for their economic value. It is the devotion of these two women, who saved their respective animals from certain death and who offer protection and shelter even in the face of economic risk, that deeply moved me. I felt the need to capture how Julie, Rosina and the animals communicate in a language of sound, touch and intuition. I am fascinated and moved by the mutual trust that is at the heart of these relationships. I am interested in how the women’s desire for non-human companionship might speak to a larger desire of mankind to overcome its arguable loneliness as a species."
Marta Pinto Machado (CV/PT), Beyond solid ground (2022)
"-Txon- means both the territory in a broader sense and the place (of someone's belonging), or the ground directly under the feet, the ground meaning support. Soil is a social entity in constant exchange with external agents, directly connected to human beings. One form of this exchange process is erosion. This project means to understand how the idea of place is built through and idea of belonging/non-belonging, of being internal/external to the city. -Beyond solid ground- means to understand how people can be their own -txon-."