Friday 10 June (continued)
Friday I tried to help to install my show in the theatre workshop space it had been scheduled for, but there were problems, and eventually it had to be moved to one of the other venues. I'd hoped to get away from a typical gallery installation, with the large A1 prints fixed directly to the wall, but we could not do this securely.
The press conference went smoothly, although it was a little embarrassing as we each had to stand and acknowledge the compliments being made about our work.
Until then I'd only met and got to know 2 or 3 of the other photographers, but after the press conference there were a group of us in the bar and then to a cafe with a couple of Polish journalists.
I used to have a Polish landlord years ago in Manchester, and had learnt one very useful rule from that relationship - not to drink the vodka. The beer however was fine. On the way to the formal opening we looked into the gallery where Vasil's pictures were being shown, Galeria Wzgorze, also a bar, and the owner also showed us some of his own work.
The opening was crowded, especially with Polish photographers and their friends who were involved in the 'No Borders' contest that was also a part of the festival. Again we had to listen to extravagant praise of our work and each take another bow. There were also official speeches, including one read on behalf of the Polish President. It was a little slow going as everything was followed by an English translation.
The highpoint was a presentation of images by each of the exhibiting photographers, generally 4 or 5 images. These were accompanied not by a recorded soundtrack but by a virtuoso pianist, Janusz Kohut, performing from a score made of thumbnail images, and making sounds from the piano in every way possible, even occasionally using the ivories rather than hammering direct on strings or other parts of the instrument. It was a great performance.
Then there was a party at the castle in the centre of the town, (which was also showing work for the festival, by Mario Giacomelli and a Polish pictorialist, Tadeusz Wanski, whose work was largely new to me.
The party was also a chance to get to know some of the other photographers, including Eikoh Hosoe and Ami Vitale, two of my photo heroes. It really made my night to find that Ami was a fan of my About Photography column. It was also a chance to eat some more great Polish food, I was starving having missed lunch with trying to hang the show.
After the party we went to the bar again, and there was a lot more talk, even some of it about photography. When we came out, it was a nice night, and had almost stopped raining. I wanted to walk the ten minutes to the hotel, but the others insisted we wait for a taxi - which took more than ten minutes to arrive. Like most things in Poland it was ridiculously cheap.
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