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After ten successful years of hosting the international photography festival of the same name, Organ Vida was at a turning point. From 2019, the festival will be held biennially while the off year will see collaborations with local organizations and festivals.

First such collaboration was realized with the Extravagant Bodies Festival (KONTEJNER), which also contributed this year’s theme – Love. The project, entitled ORGAN VIDA Season 01 Episode Love, was led by a four-member curatorial collective assembled from the previous festival’s team members: Barbara Gregov, Klara Petrović, Luja Šimunović and Lea Vene.


Following the theme, in the period 17-21 September 2019 ORGAN VIDA organized two exhibitions: the work of young Polish photographer Karolina Sobel displayed in Gallery Šira, and an exhibition featuring the work of the late Chinese photographer Ren Hang in Gallery Kranjčar. Within the project OV publishing, a presentation of Igor Ilić’s photo book titled Fake It Until You Make It was held in Botaničar.


In addition to the exhibition program, ORGAN VIDA also partnered up with KONTEJNER in the organization of an international conference Untie the Knot: Redefining Normativity in Love which took place at the Technical Museum’s HALA 5.



GALLERY ŠIRA I 17th – 28th September

The exhibition If you are OK, I am OK by Karolina Sobel is based on a close-up research done in collaboration with the polish LGBTQ community in Warsaw. Focused on the problems of the growing conservative ways of thinking which result in nationalism, homophobia and racism, the project tackles queer identity and simultaneously criticizes social norms within Polish society. Queer identities are reflected in intimate portraits of the community and intertwined with a melancholic and fragmentary representation of the urban landscapes of Warsaw.
Karolina is posing several key questions in her research: How subversive can the nonheteronormative lifestyle be in everyday life What norms does the young LGBTQ generation want to use to describe themselves? Is personal life still private, and to what extent?
The project is specifically centered around the concept of care, which is often perceived as vulnerable, fragile, invisible and quite challenging in the context of visual representation. The photographer captures intimate moments in the private spaces of her subjects where they freely and subtly visualize the presence of care, but also affection, devotion and love. Care is also tackled on the level of support and solidarity among the community members and between them and the artist. The private interior space of care is contrasted with the cityscapes lacking human presence. The depicted city is an important element in translating current repressive social and political conditions in Poland. This issue is further approached through use of a repetitive sound composed of news headlines collected from Polish media. Aggressive and hostile rhetoric is an explicit reality check of the present-day Polish society.
We are confronted by Karolina’s images in a haptic manner. Impersonal and strictly framed images are replaced by images printed on a soft, transparent natural fabric. We are invited to touch and move in between them so we can experience a different, more intimate relation and reaction to the individuals portrayed. Another aspect of her project, a sort of an exhibition closure, is a short video in which we follow the artist’s gaze along the female body of a performer enacting an almost cathartic, cleansing ceremony. The nonnarrative moving image is detached from any documentary commentary and instead proposes a self-care ritual.
Curators: Barbara Gregov and Lea Vene.
Supported by: Ministry of Culture Of Republic of Croatia, City of Zagreb and Zagreb Tourist Board.
Partner: Academy of Fine Arts, Zagreb
* The title is derived from an event organized by queer collective kem in Warsaw.


GALLERY KRANJČAR I 19th September – 6th October


You walk in my mouth
I help you take off your shoes
Take off your socks
I lick your toes.
I keep them in my mouth,
As if you were walking in my mouth,
You can walk straight into my heart.

Ren Hang 23.10.2013.


Ren Hang’s photography stems from an endless fascination with people. In his interviews, he oftentimes pointed out his affinity for photographing people, primarily those close to him. Relaxed when faced by the camera, friends give in to Hang’s visions in which, with a touch of humor, he redefines the standards of male and female identities while approaching bodies as a living material molded on the spot, in front of the lens. Multiple crossed bodies, unusual poses and the incorporation of nature and animals further estrange Hang’s photographs.


Ren Hang was called out on multiple occasions for not being socially engaged in his work, but he counteracted such criticism by reflecting a critique of the Western view of Chinese culture. Rather than contributing to an exoticizing view of China, he deliberately positions his subjects in neutral contexts, negates the documentary approach, refrains from inscribing cultural or political meaning and seeks primarily to convey the perspective of his own generation. Through photographs, he openly and directly addresses his own homosexual identity and the gay community. Unburdened by taboos, he uses photography to approach subjects such as sexuality, relationships and the naked body as something natural, and in doing so he challenges the stereotypes of Chinese culture as conservative. He himself often described his work as pornographic, thereby embracing the liberating potential brought on by the affirmation of human sexuality. Although his work is censored in China, it is there that he spent his entire life and career.


Ren Hang’s portraits are based on the trust and closeness established with his friends, whom he refers to as collaborators rather than subjects. Above all, these photographs tell a story of a generation, time spent together, and mutual communication translated into fictional visual fantasies.


The word “love” is featured prominently in the titles of Hang’s series, and later appears as the title of several solo exhibitions. Love is also the central theme of his poetry, which engrossed him as much as his work in photography. Simultaneously, he used poetry to confront and battle his depression in a sincere and explicit manner. It is exactly this tension between the two extremes that served as the central guiding principle of his work.


Curators: Barbara Gregov and Lea Vene.

Sponsored by: Erste Urbanka
Supported by: Ministry of Culture Of Republic of Croatia, City of Zagreb and Zagreb Tourist Board.

Courtesy of OstLicht. Gallery for Photography, Vienna.



BOTANIČAR I 17th September

Igor Ilić’s photobook Fake It Until You Make It gathers three photographic projects by Igor Ilić: Millennials, New Realness and Truth Rocks.


Millennials (2013) is the term for a roughly defined demographic of people born between 1980 and 2000. This generation, often proclaimed to be the next ‘important generation’, prefers to be called ‘the millennial generation’. They have been described as lazy, spoiled, materialistic and unemployed. They are reflection of the generation before them, but do they have a right to be cynical towards both the system and the aforementioned characterization? Although self-con dent and brought up to believe that they can achieve anything, they suffer from ‘ambitions in action.’ At the same time, their heightened desires are accompanied by unrealistic expectations. These models of behavior can be attributed to the developed post–industrial informatics capitalism of the Western–European and North–American type, while the questions as to what degree can this influence be left in Eastern-European and non-Western societies remain. The subjects of the photographs pose as fictional victims of this transition. The solemn sense of drama is part of a seemingly banal scene – young men and women at a private party. By portraying the banal as sublime, and alluding to religious themes, the melodramatic rapture translated into a contemporary scene based on artistic historical examples, the omnipresence of melancholy, apathy and helplessness is emphasized.


The starting point of the project New Realness (2016) is the fascination with the constructive nature of the photographic medium. In the absence of a definition of the photographic truth, I am looking for my subjective one by juxtaposing fiction and reality. It is these very opposites that create an interesting blend in the art of film. Therefore, by deconstructing the apparatus which creates a new film reality, I am trying to emphasize the obvious — that any photographic reality is, and has always been, subject to the processes of manipulation. By creating the film set and all the artifacts, props and practical film effects used by the filmmakers in the photographs, I am approaching the non-photographic processes of construction and the ways in which the reality on screen is created. In this way, I am trying to accentuate the fine line between an image, whose provability is not in doubt due to the assumption that what is shown is not real, and the medium of photography which often asserts the objective transfer of realty, while at the same time distorting and reconstructing our reality.


Truth Rocks – What does the rock have in common with the truth and photography? (2019)

It is actually very simple. A rock is the perfect object for testing the photographic truth. For example, a rock can be from outer space, it may be formed inside the human body, it may be worth as much as a man decides, it can cause pain, yet it can also be salutary. If the same stone represents only the document, such as the torn stone that lies in the grass, but at the same time it also represents the rock as a piece of art, observed in the given conditions of finding and viewing has two quite different meanings. It has its own attractive form made within many hours which gives different observation possibilities. Taking it out of its natural environment and isolating it in the gallery environment, the rock gains instant monumentality and even without any context, it will already be stunning enough. That part may be lost within photographic media. However, it opens another level of re-examination and truth rendering which can be set by displaying objects in their alleged natural state and environment and is supported by the descriptive title of an individual photograph. At the end it does not matter what is true and what is not, what does matter is a better understanding of our belief system which is always part of a construct.


Igor Ilić, Fake it until you make it
OV Publishing 2018/19
Photography Association Organ Vida, Zagreb, 2018
Text: Iva Prosoli and Igor Ilić
For the publisher: Marina Paulenka
Translation: Igor Ilić, Anina Oblak i Maja Merlić
Design: Branimir Kolarek
Print run: 200
Print: Kerschoffset


OV Publishing is one of the many projects implemented by the Photography Association Organ Vida as part of their year-round activities in the field of contemporary photography. Established in 2017, its goal is to increase the visibility and availability of original art projects embodied in the photobook form, using a unique and thoughtful design and approach to realizing contemporary photobooks.

Project is supported by the City of Zagreb – Municipal Office for Culture.




The three presentation panels approach the topic of love from different perspectives. The presentations include the analyses of intimate relationships with respect to the new ways the public and private currently overlap following the popularization of social networks, the critiques of the discourses stemming from natural and social sciences and humanities which form the dominant understandings of love and sexuality, as well as reflections on the relationship between love and art (studies on representations of love in art and contemplation about the translation of love practices into artistic work.)


In collaboration with the Departments of Sociology and Psychology of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Zagreb, a round table titled Could Mononormativity Lose Its Edge (in Croatia)? Discussing Conceptual and Empirical Outlines of Polyamory was held, and the discussion was centered around polyamorous relationships – love configurations in which partners consensually initiate and maintain committed non-binary intimate and sexual relationships.

The conference also featured a performance lecture by the artist duo Blaue & Poppy, in which the artists will talk about the intertwining of their artistic work and romantic relationship, as well as re-enact all the important moments from their artistic love-record.


Full programme here.

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