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Austria, France, Lithuania, Portugal and Romania in OpenPHoto Cuenca
Grimaces of the Weary Village, 2001. Courtesy Anya Stonelake / White Space Gallery, London © Rimaldas Viskraitis.

MADRID.- Cuenca participates at PHotoEspaña for fifth consecutive year, and hosts for the third time OpenPHoto Cuenca, the exhibition programme consisting of proposals from embassies and cultural institutes. The iniciative is sponsored by Town Hall of Cuenca, Provincial Government of Cuenca, City of Cuenca Consortium, Regional Government of Castilla-La Mancha and the European Commission, turns Cuenca into an international meeting point, opening a section completely focus on foreign countries. The participants in this edition are Austria, France, Lithuania, Portugal and Romania.

On the one hand, Fundación Antonio Pérez hosts two exhibitions. Brave New World. New Concepts in Austrian Photography and Diptyque, by Jean-Christophe Vilain.

Organized by the Austrian Embassy, the Austrian Cultural Forum, and the Austrian Ministry of Education, Art, and Culture, Brave New World. New Concepts in Austrian Photography, brings together the work of nine Austrian artists who are paradigmatic with regard to their use of new forms of expression that join the digital and real worlds. The curator of this exhibition, Margit Zuckriegl, has chosen nine artists from among the extensive photographic holdings of the Museum der Moderne in Salzburg, which comprise the collection of the Photographic Gallery of Austria’s Ministry of Education, Art, and Culture. The artists featured in the exhibition are Hubert Blanz (1969); Valie Export (1940); Dorothee Golz (1960); Helmut Grill (1965); Robert F. Hammerstiel (1957); Dieter Huber (1962); Birgit Jürgenssen (1949); Iris Klein (1962) and Anita Witek (1970).

The exhibition of the French Embassy, Diptyque, by Jean-Christopher Vilain tries to explore the limits of reality and to create unusual dialogues between objects that appear very different. In his diptychs, Vilain seeks to confront images that apparently have nothing in common but, when together, can raise questions about our own way of seeing the world. When certain objects meet, they show the great distance that separates them, a distance that this exhibition aims to erase. Painting or photographing apparently unconnected images also have their own limitations. The aim is to explore those borders, trespass them and encourage initially impossible dialogues to question our own limits or simply portray them.

On the other hand, Antonio Saura Foundation. Zavala House shows the exhibitions The Last Transhumance, by Dragoş Lumpan, Grimaces of the Weary Village by Romaldas Viksraitis, and A Diary of the Republic, a work by the collective [kameraphoto].

Organized by the Romanian Cultural Institute, The Last Transhumance, by Dragoş Lumpan offers a first-hand portrait of a migrant family, a custom on the verge of disappearance. This exhibition seeks to perpetuate, in artistic and documentary form, reminiscences of a traditional custom on the verge of disappearance. Transhumance (seasonal migration) routes were once marked on the old maps of the Balkans, and the secrets of these invisible paths have been transmitted from one generation to the next. Between 2007 and 2008, Dragoş Lumpan accompanied a family of migrant shepherds who, due to socioeconomic changes, ended up choosing to lead settled lives. During his 14 journeys with them, he took over 25,000 photographs that capture the previously undocumented, particular and harsh aspects of their lives. Lumpan has currently begun a second phase of the project, a comparative examination of transhumance in Greece, Great Britain, Turkey, Italy and Albania.

Grimaces of the Weary Village by Romaldas Viksraitis, a project from Lithuania which shows the decay of rural agricultural communities in this country, one of the most rapidly developing economies in Europe. Organized by the Embassy of Lithuania, Anya Stonelake, White Space Gallery, the Lithuanian Photographers, Association Kaunas, Department ad Lithuanian Cultural Foundation, the show is curated by Martin Parr and Anya Stonelake. Romandas Viksraitis is one of those photographers who produce all their work at the local level, developing extensive projects on scenes from their nearby, daily environment. His stories seem dark and depressing at first glance, but they are also full of honesty, beauty and humour: a world that Martin Parr has called “slightly insane and wonderfully surreal”. Rimaldas Viksraitis (Lithuania, 1954) received the Arles Discovery Award 2009 for New Photography, which has brought him international recognition.

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