‘Another Europe / O altă Europă’
28 blown-up photographs mounted on concrete benches were exposed for a month (18 April – 16 May 2019) on the Nicolae Balcescu Boulevard of Sibiu. Each image represented a country of the European Union. The project entitled ‘Another Europe’ was first launched in London in 2018 on the occasion of the Austrian presidency of the EU Council and it was brought to Sibiu in the same context: the celebration of the Romanian Presidency of the European Union Council and the hosting of the Summit of the heads of state and government of the EU member States (9 May).
The 28 visual artists who exhibited their works were selected by the custodian of the exhibition, the Briton Hamish Park, out of almost 200 candidates from the entire continent. The project was organized by the Austrian Cultural Forum of Bucharest in collaboration with EUNIC Romania (The European Union National Institutes for Cultural), the Commission representation in Romania and the Sibiu Town Hall.
On April 18th, at the opening of the project, six of the exhibiting artists came to Sibiu and took part in a photography workshop. Also, they took a walk through Sibiu guided by the French photographer Louis Guermond, who’s been living in Sibiu since 2003. Here’s what they each took from their short journey through Sibiu.
Gerry Balfe Smyth
Gerry Balfe Smith studied Photography at DIADT in Dublin before working as a photographic assistant to Perry Ogden & Bruce Weber. He began developing his own personal projects while living in New York and London. His work is inspired by ‘real people’ giving a voice to those on the margins, exploring social and cultural themes, in particular groups of people that share a common identity. His editorial & documentary work takes him to many different locations around the world, commissioned by leading publications including, Dazed Digital, Sunday Telegraph Magazine, Sunday Times Magazine, ATOD Magazine L.A and Vice. He is currently based in Dublin, Ireland.
I was very excited to learn that the ‘Another Europe’ exhibition was travelling to Romania and to the beautiful medieval city of Sibiu.
On my visit there I was surprised to discover the generosity we received from the locals and also that they are not afraid of photography and having their picture taken! While strolling around the city one day I ended up in the little park, Parcul Bulevard at the end of Strada Nicolae Balcescu, I was attracted by the flash gun of a photographer taking pictures of a young newly married couple under the pink Cherry Blossom tree which was in full bloom.
I stood amongst the family and relations observing the scene when the farther of the bride approached me with a silver tray of full of sweets and small bite size cakes and insisted I take one.
I explained I was just a tourist just passing through, he knew, he said his wife spent the previous day making them and she would be upset if I didn’t try one, over his shoulder I saw his wife waving at me ‘eat’ she mimed, I eat, they were delicious. With my 35mm film camera around my next he asked would I like to photograph his grand daughter in her new dress for the wedding, I said would l love to.
I left with my pockets full of take away goodies, with instructions they were only to be eaten after dinner!
Oana Stoian (b. 1993) received her Bachelor’s degree in 2015 from the Department of Photography-Videography at the Art and Design College, West University of Timisoara. Her work shows an abstractisation of reality, a loss of identity in the context of mysterious scenes. In 2016 Oana was selected for the Professional shortlist in the Staged category at the Sony World Photography Awards.
The first thing I noticed in Sibiu was the old town surrounded by towers, buildings of different ages and different styles, impeccably combined. People around there know how to keep their culture and identity, which they are proud of. Sibiu looks like a city made out of gingerbread and has a flavour from another century brought to present. Every corner seems to have its history and the vibe of the city is positive and makes me feel relaxed. The city offers many opportunities for photography, especially with this game of lights, it is beautiful how the sun rays sneaks through the old buildings. I love how in the sunny days the center of Sibiu is full of people, walking around, sitting in the outdoor cafes and enjoying their city.
Petra Lajdova (b. 1978) is a fine art and commercial photographer. Her art aims to renew interest in traditional art. Her work “Slovak Renaissance” (2012-2014) represents the first modern art photographic display of Slovak Folk Art and cultural heritage in Slovakia. www.petralajdova.com
My first impression started when walking the Goldsmiths’ stairway. I was leaving hotel and running to join the opening of Another Europe exhibition. I was stunned. What a picturesque part of the town. Sibiu. Warm. Friendly. Calm. Silent. Historical. Traditional. So colourful. I was impressed by its history, colourful buildings and its cultural breathing from every corner. The Lower Town connected with the Upper one with tunnels and passages, its fairytale atmosphere made their mark in my heart. Those medieval alleys and houses with unusual rooftops allowed me to stop in time, to be completely drowned and embraced by its warm and humble profound beauty and history.
Sibiu, such beautiful balance between the old (medieval) and beautifully preserved Art nouveau or Renaissance or Baroque parts of the town.
Andreas Trogisch (b. 1959) has exhibited in Lyon, Berlin and Köln and his work was featured in several photobooks. Since 2015 he is a member of the “Deutsche Fotografische Akademie”. He is also working as a graphic and exhibition designer and is represented by the agency bobsairport.
The interesting thing is not the shop window, but the street that is reflected in it. Formations like these are not made for me or anybody else. They just exist and I take pictures of them. All I can do is to go to places with this certain visual potential – which was given in Sibiu. But the most important ingredient to a good picture is light, and light I had plenty .
Jeanette Hägglund (n. 1963) este stabilită la Uppsala şi lucrează de 12 ani în publicitate şi portretistică. Diferitele serii comerciale şi personale ale artistei se caracterizează printr-un simţ estetic luminos şi îndrăzneţ, care eliberează privitorii de realitatea măsurabilă şi recognoscibilă. Deşi minimalismul pop este un concept foarte folosit în fotografia digitală, Hägglund se foloseşte de această formulă nu pentru a comenta existenţa universală (care devine din ce în ce mai limitativă în anonimitatea ei), ci pentru a oferi noi posibilităţi celor dornici să le considere. www.jeanettehagglund.se
Sibiu is a very charming little city with a very beautiful surroundings of the impressive mountains. I had nice experience of the restaurants and cafes I visited while I was there. In the old part of Sibiu the buildings is very pleasant for the eyes with all the colours and special style.
Adam Panczuk (b. 1978) lives in Warsaw and studied at the University of Economics and photography at the Multimedia Communication Department of the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań.With his projects Pańczuk seems to be asking questions about identity, consciousness and his attitude towards the life of the people he meets along the way. His unique skill to tell gripping yet intimate stories with images has won him many prestigious awards to date. Adam is member of Sputnik.
I do not work with words. My pictures are words. Here are my words.
Influenced by the humanist photography and the artistic movements of the 1930s, supported by renowned photographers, I live continuously a child’s dream. What I do is also a way, sometimes on the verge of friendly irony, to keep by photography what surrounds me, my daily life. My exhibitions in France, Colombia, Argentina, Mexico or Japan have been happy chances on the life track of the informed amateur photographer.
In 15 years, what a change!… When I settled down here, in 2003, in order to start a new life, Sibiu was gray by its walls. For a Breton like me, little rain and sun were the ideal conditions to practice photography. I was very quickly adopted, in this quiet city, by the different layers of its society, still having the sense of the festive meeting and a high cultural level. One is good here.