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The Lithuanian edition of the Fotoblok

From July 30 to October 3, 2021, The Fotoblok Central Europe in Photo Books exhibition will be presented at the National Gallery of Art in Vilnius, prepared by the International Cultural Centre. It is an intriguing look at Central Europe in the 20th century, reflected in photo books, and at the same time the first shot in over a hundred years of the most important and interesting Central European photobooks. The prepared selection of works has been supplemented with additional materials from Lithuanian collections, bringing the local context closer.

Throughout the 20th century, albums, brochures and photo books accompanied the turbulent history of the region. For two decades photobooks have aroused keen interest among researchers and their phenomenon is already known in both criticism and exhibitions. They have appeared at many exhibitions, but no one has yet looked at this issue as a whole in the context of Central Europe.

The exhibition is the first exhibition that presents such a cross-sectional and critical view of the turbulent history of Central Europe analyzed by album, art and propaganda publications. It presents over a hundred photo books from the Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary, showing how photography reflected the processes of shaping new identities of young Central European countries and influenced their image, ideology, dreams of modernization and future. A broad, transnational perspective allows us to see the common fate shared by the inhabitants of this part of the continent.

The narrative of the exhibition is divided into six chapters. It guides the viewer through the 20th century from the appearance of the first mass-printed books illustrated with photographs, through the period of reviving and emerging statehood, the trauma of World War II and large-scale modernization. Also present at the exhibition are publications documenting the changing everyday life, social and moral processes from the 1960s and 1970s to the present day, the era of political, cultural and, above all, technological transformation.

The exhibition presents not only popular and eagerly collected photobooks, but also newsreels, photos, graphics and art objects. The collected copies of books can not only be viewed, but also leafed through, read and touched. This is perhaps the last chance for such direct contact with a photo book - in the digital age an object that is more and more valued, sought after, and therefore also inevitably unavailable.

The exhibition is part of the two-year project named Photobook Bloc. Central Europe in Photo Books (XX-XXI century) financed by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage under the Multiannual Program NIEPODLEGŁA 2017–2022.
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