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Fotograf Issue 44 – Empathy

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The ability to empathise with others is a construct that has only been around for a few centuries. This does not mean that such a skill did not exist until then. However, the concept of empathy creates a field in which this ability oscillates from understanding the other party to understanding the self. And because such a playground can be quite expansive, and the playing balls of empathy can be ping-ponged from one side to the other, we decided to dedicate an issue of the magazine to this field.

We most often associate empathy with a documentary approach in the context of photography. At the same time, it is important to note the appeal of Martha Rosler, Allan Sekula, and Ariella Azoulay who point to the phenomenon where images from conflict zones tend to help perpetuate established political and social roles and reinforce pre-existing stereotypes. On the other hand, by selecting diverse authorial approaches, we try to capture a variety of perceptive attitudes such as care, gender and race equality (e.g. non-white gaze), which offer an alternative and new perspective also in terms of ethics and ways of empathizing with the situation of others.

The fact that empathy is not entirely easy to grasp will be supported by two texts which, from a philosophical perspective, present the fascinating development of the concept and the two-facedness associated with it in Theory by Tomáš Dvořák. Or the realisation that no theory of empathy explores the way in which a person empathises with themselves, as Alice Koubová will point out in the Theme section. The interview with Palo Fabuš shifts the reflection towards artificial intelligence and the somewhat outdated paradigm by which we perceive it if we constantly liken it to humans, and also touches upon neurodiversity, which should no longer be perceived as a disorder but as an opportunity for greater diversity.

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.

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