Fotograf Issue 46 – Tourism

by Fotograf


It is interesting how much the world of photography is connected with tourism, in other words, how much the two domains may have in common. If we look at them through the lens of a mass phenomenon, they may even be similarly old. And it is in this perspective that a number of controversial questions arise in all their clarity. To what extent has tourism affected many of the coastlines and unique destinations that attract tourists?  And to what extent does photography influence our perception of the places we visit?

Those of us who live in Prague can only sigh, as many in UNESCO-listed sites do. In an age of mass tourism, a well-intentioned project to list the most important monuments has a number of pitfalls that affect or even negate the authenticity of a place. The problems associated with tourism are all the more serious when we consider not only the contentious issue of preserving cultural heritage, but especially the responsibility for the climate emergency and the impact of mass tourism in exacerbating it. It is no wonder that alternative currents such as slow tourism, nano tourism or critical tourism are gradually emerging, defining themselves against the negative phenomena of mainstream tourism with a very limited vision of increasing the number of visitors to the sites in question.

What will one day be left in places previously so exposed? A reminder of the demise of our civilisation can be seen in the photographs of Josef Koudelka, who masterfully captures the specific and captivating atmosphere transmitted from hundreds of archaeological sites across the Mediterranean. In the same location, the Dutch photographer Ad Van Denderen seeks out the controversial resting places of those from the north versus the existential questions of those from the south. Reiner Riedler has for many years focused on the concept of a kind of fake holiday, or places out of context offering elements of an exotic experience. What stands out in this documentary mix is the project of Jana Hartman, who has become fascinated by photo wallpapers or wall paintings and their ability to bring fiction into public space in such a straightforward way. And I am also very pleased with the approach of Ada Zielinska, whose perfect depiction of natural disasters bravely, yet with a certain amount of poetry, erases the patriarchal model of a collapsing world.

If we want to understand today’s way of thinking about photography, there is nothing better than to take an excursion back more than a hundred years. Suddenly, some contructs seem to emerge in all their unnaturalness. The text of Vojta Marce’s column The theme of the gentleman with the mirror and the famous gentleman bringing a stock of exotic exhibits is also beautifully combined with the text of Michal Šimůnek, who will take us back to the bygone days and the waters of Niagara Falls. I wish you a pleasant travel reading.

Fotograf Magazine is comprehensive 80-page periodical that has been published in both Czech and English versions since 2002. Building on the magazine’s activities, Fotograf Gallery was opened in 2009 and, two years later, the first Fotograf Festival was held. This led to the establishment of Fotograf 07 z.s. as an officially registered association that functions as an art platform and carries out extensive publication, exhibition, and educational activities in the field of photography as well as in certain other overlapping disciplines. This organisation aims to promote and support photography within the context of the fine arts, to ensure its greater inclusion in contemporary art, and to increase public awareness about photography not only in the Czech Republic but also at a visible level on the international scene.

Over the course of its existence, Fotograf Magazine has attained a prominent position amongst Czech cultural periodicals. At the global level, it is one of the most important magazines focusing on current photographic art. The mission and objective of Fotograf Magazine is to inform the Czech professional public as well as the broader cultural public about what is happening in the field of photographic art at home and abroad, and, even more importantly, to increase awareness about Czech photography and contemporary visual culture in the Czech Republic and elsewhere. Fotograf Magazine is published three times a year and each issue has a unique thematic focus. Because of the resulting quality of timelessness, Fotograf Magazine has an advantage over standard art magazines as it is possible to return to individual issues and use them as study materials for a specific thematic area.

The bulk of the magazine’s contents consists of visual presentations of the works of individual artists accompanied by interpretive texts by renowned experts. The main thematic block, which continues to be our key focal point, includes the Project and Interview columns. The Discoveries column is the lead-in to that part of Fotograf Magazine devoted to current trends, books, and events, and also presents artists who we are convinced bring original approaches to artworks using the photographic medium. In the Theory column, we regularly present texts associated with contemporary photography theory. Our Reviews column brings information about interesting publication activities and, as has become traditional, the Events column lists the most important events taking place in both the Czech Republic and abroad.