What photographers say about Belgrade Photo Month

I have participated in the first two editions of Belgrade Photomonth with “What’s this Book” (2016), “Uncensored Books” (2017), and “H.said he loved us” (2017), three curatorial projects related to photography and photobooks. In this sense, I have seen the Festival since its birth and very first steps.

Belgrade Photo Month has had a decisive impact on the cultural life of Belgrade. More to this, it is a Festival with a challenging program open to new formats and means of expressions. It works as platform for all of us, photographers and professionals from all over the world, to develop contents. But most importantly, it provides us with the opportunity to reach new audiences outside the confinements of the established international photography scene and a thriving community of photographers that has a lot to contribute to the photography scene both in Belgrade and abroad.

Natasha Christia – Photographer – www.natashachristia.com

Although I participated as an exhibitor in the Belgrade Photo Month, I must point out that the real significance of this manifestation is felt as a photographer and follower of cultural events. It is truly a fantastic feeling when for one month at every step you can see photography exhibitions, follow workshops and lectures, or review portfolios! However, what is especially important is that many of these developments represent a new and different approach to photography, offering new ways of viewing a photo and inspiring photographers to take more inventive approaches to their work. Because of this, but also because of the wonderful gatherings throughout the festival that create opportunities to meet like-minded photography enthusiasts and the professionals who deal with it, I think that the Belgrade Photo Month is one of the most beautiful things that has happened to the Belgrade photography scene, and furthermore the city’s cultural scene.

Aleksandra Lekovic – Photographer

For such a city in the Balkans, to have a photo-festival of this kind is very important for its cultural scene with a huge tradition in arts. The program brings a very wide choice of proposals and paths in several art spaces, this is also a great opportunity for those who want to discover (again) the city. Belgrade photo month is also an opportunity to meet really great people, curators, artists of course, but also the public always keen to discover more.

As Art Director of the Quinzaine SHOOT! in Chamonix, I would love to make the jumelage between the cities become reality.

Laure Maugeais – Photographer – www.lauremaugeais.com

Finally, Belgrade is part of the EU.
Nowadays, a country that wishes to be considered with respect and be powerful on the international level has to have a PHOTO FESTIVAL.
This year is the second edition of the Belgrade Photo Festival.
Second edition…. a toddler of a festival. But. Let us have a look at the program. Around fifty (50,00) exhibitions.
Workshops. Conferences, lectures, talks. A photo market. Plus projection of movies such as Alice in the Cities, Persona, Z, and of course Blow up and Profession Reporter.
Impossible to quote all of the many exhibitions, conferences, etc… because there is around a hundred (100,00) events related to photography during the time of the festival, one month, April.
Check the catalogue, because there is a catalogue. A real one, with pages.
Why is it so important that a city like Belgrade has a festival of this importance and quality. Belgrade is in the Balkans.
We know students, young photographers, mid-age photographers, old photographers, do not all have the possibility to go to the Rencontres d’Arles, PhotoEspaña, Fotofest Houston festival…Creating a festival of such a scale and scope allows not only the local public to enjoy it but also the neighbouring countries.
Running a workshop these days with students and young photographers, I can see the high level of education as well as the creative potential these young people bear within themselves as well as the works that should be seen on the international scene. Young people who are hungry for seeing photography not only on internet but in exhibitions, real prints, the impact of a curator’s work, meet and exchange with people related to photography during all of these many events.
Let us not forget these very days are special in Belgrade. Every day at 6 p.m. starts a pacific demonstration, a massive demonstration.
So the programme of the Belgrade Photo Month has to adapt to the local life and schedule, and to the reality of the present time.
By the way, how does a festival see the light, how does a festival become international already for its second edition?
One man, passionate, do we have to say it, crazy, do we have to mention it, lovely crazy, of course, fell in love with this city. To prove his love, he built a palace in the middle of desert.
Coming from a country where some spend their time tilting at windmills, David Pujado, the pioneer, the creator, the director of the Belgrade Photo Month, made a dream come true as well as he filled in a gap. He is a survivor because he knows how to fight windmills. And there are many more windmills than one could think, all around.
Therefore we must hope and believe that David Pujado will be concretely supported on all levels, in this pioneering adventure to give the festival long life.
People, be aware that the palace David Pujado is building is not for granted.
Yet, we are sure, David Pujado, already known in this part of the world as David Pužadović, will never forget that his compadre, Don Quixote, said:

“No limits, but the sky.”

Klavdij Sluban – Photographer – www.sluban.com

What Belgrade photo month makes so seductive is dynamism of the program. Dynamism not because of the relevant art content and diverse artists and poetics that the festival promotes, but also because of the usage of so many city gallery spaces, which directly activates people and brings city to life.

Belgrade deserved long time ago, to, with quality projects like this one, get closer to other European capitals. By supporting this project we are not supporting only David and the team of the festival, we are supporting the idea that the world should be part of the Belgrade, and Belgrade part of the world.

Deyan Clement – Photographer – www.deyanclement.net

I thoroughly enjoyed attending and exhibiting my work in this year’s Belgrade Photo Month, a festival which although is at its early stages, it is extremely well organized. Belgrade is currently going through an exciting cultural boom so it was a pleasure to have the opportunity to get to know the photo community here. I look forward to coming back in the near future.

Rubén Salgado Escudero – Photographer – www.rubensalgado.comInstagram

In April 2016 the Belgrade Photo Month will be held for the first time. From my personal experience as Managing Director of Eyes On – Month of Photography Wienna I can say that over the years such an event will evolve a huge interest from participating photographers and artists as well as from the local audience.

European Month of Photography (EMoP) is a network established by the Cities of Berlin, Paris and Vienna in 2004, which today represents photography festivals in eight European capitals. One of the main goals of this network is to develop a common exhibition every two years, usually including artists from the respective countries. So far five such exhibitions have been produced and presented under the patronage of the Mayors in the frame of each cities festival.

We encourage public and private institutions to support this great project, and look forward to welcome Belgrade as a new member of EMoP in the near future.

Thomas Licek – Managing Director of Eyes On – Month of Photography Wienna and President of Association of European Month of Photography (EMoP)

Belgrade is still one of the most exciting destinations in the Balkan region, despite a decade of crisis that has slowed down the development of the capital city. The specific energy present in this city attracts people from all over the world, although the touristic potential is not used as much as it could be, particularly the specific culture present in the city and the art scene. The very popular tourist destinations of the world realized a long time ago that today’s tourist does not expect just good entertainment, but also quality cultural content that leaves a deep mark in their personal experience and creates a long term relationship with the visited place.

As one of the youngest art disciplines photography is adaptable to all of the changes occurring within society and technology, so today photography has become a widespread art discipline all over the world. The use of the photograph is far beyond the sphere of art and has become an inevitable part of our everyday life. First of all, photography attracts young people who are searching for their own form of expression and positioning within the society in which they live. Also photography is a powerful medium for social engagement, criticism and engaged thought generally.

Unfortunately, on the cultural scale in Serbia and Belgrade, photography is not considered to be on a high level within the arts and still falls under the shadow of classic art such as music, painting, graphics and sculpture. This festival of photography is a chance to determine and secure the position of photography in the cultural scene of Belgrade and Serbia. This would direct the attention of both the local public and foreign visitors to this interesting and dynamic medium, the transformation of which happens faster than in any other art discipline.

The festival of photography would engage numerous cultural institutions such as cultural centers, galleries, schools, as well as individuals who will promote and advance photography: curators, critics, writers and lecturers. Numerous artists, particularly the younger generation, will get a chance to show their work in public locations, while already established artists will secure a high level of quality as would be expected from such a festival. The specificity of the region in which we live, with the frequent collision of cultures during historical turmoil, leaves a deep mark on artistic production and photographers are no exception to this influence.

Because of globalization, authenticity has become exclusive; the hunger for specific cultural expression is increasing. On one hand, the isolation of Belgrade from the cultural world scene is very bad because it disables the development of an art market, but on the other hand it helps to keeps the authentic art expression of this region. Belgrade Photo Month will enable the coherence of this specific expression and its representation to the region generally. This could produce the photographic market necessary for this region.

Ivana Tomanović MA – Associate Professor AUNS and ReFoto magazine executive editor

The need for a festival like this is a cultural rising of urban society, with visual and art awareness in Serbia being at a low level. This is partly due to photography, possibly the the richest art discipline of the 21st century, being almost invisible in the context of art in schools and not to mention its value in terms of a national treasure!

Djordje Odanovic – Professor at the Academy of Arts, Novi Sad

Belgrade Photo Month is a festival that would gather together a large number of photographers and photography enthusiasts. Nowadays, when technology is very much developed and has become accessible to almost everyone, more and more people are engaging in photography. Everyday life is being documented with photography, from the capturing of an interesting moment with a mobile phone, to very serious artistic photographs.

For this reason, I think that it is necessary to organise a festival like this and to raise the awareness of photography to a higher level. Photography is not just a memory from vacations or family celebrations; it is a document of the times in which we are living. It appears in seconds but remains as a document of time, whose detail in the corner can initiate an avalanche of ideas and information.

This media itself is the most compact and fastest way for the transfer of information, presenting the most details about the material, motif, emotions of the subject and of the author as well. Because of modern technology a large number of photographs are presented to us on a daily basis, that is why it is necessary to educate a person to read the image, select and create their personal criterion.

Organizing photography workshops gives a chance for the exchange of experiences and ideas, cooperation among young photographers, an opportunity to learn something new and to experiment using old techniques in a new and creative way.

Nebojša Babić – Photographer, Director of O3one gallery, member of ULUPUDS, USUF, PPof-E i SAM

In a relatively short time, the Bartcelona Concept Gallery, located within Belgrade Design District in Čumićevo Sokače, has become a notable exhibition space and meeting place for photographers and artists.

Bartcelona presents a multitude of local and foreign artists which are, within the carefully designed selection and presentation of exhibited photos, refreshing the local photography scene.

With his professional manner in running the gallery and his enthusiasm for photography, David Pujado has become the guarantee for quality and original exhibitions at Bartcelona Concept Gallery.

I regularly recommend my colleagues, students and friends to visit and see the photography exhibitions at this small and already well known Belgrade gallery.

The idea of David Pujado being able to organise the Belgrade Photo Month seemed almost impossible due the local cultural conditions. However, he has devoted himself to the job consistently and systematically, gathering more and more supporters for this idea along the way. Personally, I will gladly support the team preparing Belgrade Photo Month and I hope that a number of institutions will also support the festival and help to organise and realise this festival of photography in our city.

Dragan Pavlović DOC, MA – Photographer, member of ULUPUDS and lecturer at Singidunum University for media and communications

Over twenty years ago started one of the most dynamic and productive periods in the development and history of photography. This is noticeable not only in the presence of photography in the press and media, but above all in intensive art production, numerous exhibitions, photography galleries, artists with different approaches, lectures, seminars, conferences and the appearance of new views on photography. The first festival of photography was launched in Arles, 45 years ago, as a meeting place for photographers and enthusiasts. At the beginning of the Seventies in the 20th century, another important international photo festival was established, Paris Photo. Today there is more than one hundred photo festivals worldwide, confirmation of the important role for this media in art, culture and society nowadays.

Apart from Festival Photonic Moment held in Slovenia, only a few small photography festivals exist in Serbia and the Balkan region. Belgrade Photo Month will be the first large festival to be staged here. The main goal of the festival is a validation of photography with analysis, consideration, presentation of photography, artists of different generations and actual production techniques. At the same time, the festival aims to present various national photographic and art scenes to an international audience and vice versa. By including photographers, artists, curators, art historians and theoreticians, media, as well as art, cultural and other public institutions in the city, Belgrade Photo Month can contribute not only to the contemporary history of photography, but also to the art and cultural scene in Serbia and beyond.

Jelena Matic MA – Art and media theoretician and art historian