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The Month of Photography in Bratislava
Slovak Republic
November 3-7, 2004
Report by Wendy Watriss & Fred Baldwin

FotoFest Founder Fred Baldwin and Meeting Place Coordinator Jenny Antill review portfolios at Mesiac Fotografie
The oldest and most prestigious of the Middle European photography festivals, Mesiac Fotografie, took place in Bratislava for its 14th consecutive year. There were 30 exhibitions around the historic center of the Slovak capital, a two-day portfolio review, presentations and prizes for the Best Photography Books published in Central and Eastern Europe, conferences, workshops, and a fine print auction. Vaclav Macek, the founder and director of Fotofo, the organizing group, said that he hopes next year to announce the formation of a permanent center of photography in Bratislava. Fotofo and FotoFest have collaborated for many years, and Mesiac Fotografie has been one of the founding members of the Festival of Light network. In 2002, Martin Paluch, director of Mesiac Fotografie's portfolio review came to work with FotoFest 2002 on an exchange program between the two organizations.
Mesiac Fotografie's Portfolio Review coordinator Martin Paluch talks with his FotoFest counterpart Jenny Antill. Paluch had worked with FotoFest during its 2002 Biennial as part of an exchange program between the two organizations.
The Bratislava portfolio review program is growing steadily. Martin Paluch said this year over 60 artists came from Europe, Asia, and the U.S. There were reviewers. At the invitation of Mesiac Fotografie , FotoFest founders Fred Baldwin and Wendy Watriss went to Bratislava to review portfolios. FotoFest's Meeting Place coordinator, Jenny Antill, accompanied them.
Japanese artist Reiko Imoto, winner of the best portfolio prize, shows her work at Mesiac Fotografie
A testament to the growing internationalism of Mesiac Fotografie is the winner of this year's portfolio review Reiko Imoto, a Japanese artist. "I also saw good work from Lithuania, Hungary, Czech Republic, Austria, and other Central European countries. A number of talented young Korean artists studying photography in England were there to show their work," Fred Baldwin notes.
Slovak curator Lucia Benicka (right), director of Dom Fotografie in Poprad. Ms. Benicka arranged an exhibition, The Best of FotoFest, for Houston, Texas based artist Soody Sharifi (center) after seeing her portfolio at the FotoFest 2004 Meeting Place.
Wendy Watriss says she and Fred like to attend the Mesiac Fotografie because it is an important venue to see Russian, Baltic, and Central European photographic work that is difficult to see elsewhere: "There is very significant contemporary and historical photographic work in all these countries, and it doesn't always get out to other audiences outside these regions." Related to the Bratislava festival and produced by Fotofo is the important photography magazine IMAGO, specializing in information, artist portfolios, and critical writing on Russian, Central European , and Baltic art photography.
Fotofo and Mesiac Fotografie director Vaclav Macek speaking at the opening ceremony for the festival
There are growing numbers of photography festivals and centers now throughout Central Europe, Poland, Russia, and the Baltic countries, including a Baltic Triennial.
Photographs taken with Leica Digilux 2