World Documentary Photography at its Finest at Organ Vida Festival

Setting off with an exhibition by Rogen Ballen, one of the most distinct photographers of the 21st century, at Museum of Contemporary Art last Thursday, international festival of photography Organ Vida has set a high bar for its eight edition stating on September 13th. Luckily, with the program they presented for the 8th edition of the festival, they seem to have a good grip on that bar.

Organ Vida is the biggest festival of documentary photography in southeastern Europe showing the works of international photographers in galleries around Zagreb. The festival has an open application adherent to the theme chosen by organizers. This year the theme was Revelations in which the authors had to reexamine their relationships with the subjects, the way they perceive the truth and what hidden truths can be found in their photographs, asking the viewers to interpret the truth behind the obvious, and asking the photographers to show their interpretations of revelations through their photography.


Over 400 projects from 58 countires were applied to the festival, and a professional jury picked 10 best projects to exhibit in the iconic French pavilion (Student center, Savska street 25) during the festival. The projects chosen are from Kirill Golovchenko (Ukraine), Gidon Levin (Izrael), Maria Sturm and Cemre Yeşil (Germany/Turkey), Andrea and Magda (Italy/France), Anne Müchler and Nico Schmitz (Germany), Mario Brand (Germany), Qian Zhao (China), M. Scott Brauer (USA), Michal Siarek (Poland) and Pierre Liebaert (Belgium). The chosen projects are for the most part research projects of a documentary type, but other styles and concepts were also chosen to engulf all the different approaches to the theme and ways revelations can occur in different contexts.

Ten honorable mentions will be displayed on the opening of the festival in front of the French pavilion on Tuesday, September 13th from 9pm, followed by an opening open air party.

Aside from the main exhibiton, Organ Vida will have different workshops, panel discussions, lectures, talks, smaller exhibitions, guided tours, book presentations, film screenings, portfolio reviews and parties. People can still apply (and find out what they are about in detail) to workshops HERE. Some of the more interesting ones are from Donald Weber‘s Risky Business (Not Really): The Economics of Storytelling, How to make your photozine by Olja Triaško Stefanović and Juraj Blašk and children workshop Photograms by Snježana Josipović that focuses on creating photo images without using a camera. Each head of the workshop will have individual portfolio reviews.

One of the main programs is the Open Show Zagreb, something like Photography talks, in which photographers that were chosen through application have an exhibition and 20 minutes to present their photo series to the audience at Zagreb dance center (ZDC), Ilica street 10. Open show takes place on September 17th from 9pm. Panel discussion about the theme of this year’s festival will be held on September 15th, at ZDC from 5:30pm, featuring the finalists of the competition. Those are just some of the events in which the audiences can discuss photography with international professionals.

Taba, Sinai, July 2014. From the Israeli border to Sharm El Sheikh, almost the entire cost of the Aqaba Gulf is built with tourist infrastructures. However, 3 natural parks initiated under Mubarak's government are limiting the deterioration of the cost.
Taba, Sinai, July 2014. From the Israeli border to Sharm El Sheikh, almost the entire cost of the Aqaba Gulf is built with tourist infrastructures. However, 3 natural parks initiated under Mubarak’s government are limiting the deterioration of the cost.

One of the more interesting exhibitions on the festival will be Lessons from ’91. It gathers war photographers from different countries that were active in theaters of war on the Balkans during the 90ties, showing different perspectives on the conflicts and people who were caught in them. Exhibitions of war photography from that period is not uncommon in the region, but this is the first exhibition that connects those different and often opposing perspectives in one place.

PREKOPAKRA,24.10.1991. Poginuli Hrvatski gardist na nosilima u prostoriji poredfotografije nekadanjeg predsjednika SFR Jugoslovije Josipa Broza Tita FOTO / BOZIDAR VUKICEVIC

Each year the festival focuses on one young local photographer. Nikola Zelmanović, currently finishing his MA at Royal Collage of Arts in London is presenting his project Here and Now at Šira gallery, Preradovićeva street 13 throughout the festival.

Organ Vida will take place at 14 locations around Zagreb between September 13th and 24th with 10 exhibitions, 21 side events, 7 workshops, 3 screenings and five parties, details of which can be found HERE.

The festival is free of charge.