Opava School of Photography

30 years of the Institute of Creative Photography at the Silesian University in Opava

  • Exhibition: 29.10.2021–28.11.2021 (open daily except November 24)
  • Guided tours of the exhibition in English: 10.11. 6 p.m. 

The Institute of Creative Photography of the Silesian University in Opava is often referred to as the Opava School of Photography. This is also the title given to the exhibition organised by the Contemporary Art Gallery in Opole, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Institute with a one year delay caused by the pandemic. Following the exhibition entitled At First Sight: A Selection of Czech Photography from the 20th and 21st Centuries, shown at the Museum of Opole Silesia in 2016, the Opole Photography Festival once again decided to comprehensively introduce its audience to photographic images hailing from the Czech Republic. This time, however, the exhibition is not limited to Czech and Slovak artists and also includes Polish graduates and students of the Institute.

One of the first courses offered by the new faculty in Opava – initially, it was part of the Masaryk University in Brno, with the Silesian University founded only a year later – was photography. At that time, in all post-communist countries, photography could only be studied at FAMU in Prague and at the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst (HGB) in Leipzig. Although there was no shortage of candidates, at the outset the school offered little more than good lecturers and one office room. However, with time, a photographic studio, a professional library, a computer room, and an extensive storeroom were built. Most importantly, the Institute had an excellent team of tutors which comprised renowned photographers of various generations and diverse creative inclinations, as well as experts in fields such as sociology, typography or art history. The members of the teaching staff respected each other and often became friends; hence, this friendly and informal atmosphere naturally transferred onto the students. Many people who did not know each other before became lifelong friends at the Institute.

The Institute of Creative Photography is a celebrated brand not only in the Czech Republic but also in neighbouring countries. There is no shortage of famous names among the Institute graduates. They include the dean of the art faculty, numerous university and high school tutors, winners of World Press Photo awards, the Leica Oskar Barnack Award and the Hasselblad Masters photographic competitions, as well as a nominee member of the legendary Magnum Photos cooperative. The Institute's graduates also include artists whose work has been exhibited at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Museum Ludwig in Cologne, the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography and other prestigious institutions, in addition to heads of photography galleries and numerous artists excelling in artistic and commercial photography.

The core of the exhibition are works of current students and young graduates created within the last five years since the previous exhibition entitled Quarter of a Century. Institute of Creative Photography, which was retrospective in nature. A special screening recalls the work of some of the outstanding alumni from previous periods. The Institute places a strong emphasis on the history and theory of photography. This is best evidenced by extensive theoretical works, many of which significantly enhance the historiography of photography. Some of them have been successfully published in book form. For this reason, the exhibition also includes theoretical undergraduate and graduate dissertations, books and catalogues written by students and lecturers.

The website of the Institute of Creative Photography makes available all theoretical works (in the Czech language), as well as graduation sets of photographs by all students and alumni: www.itf.cz.

  • Curators: Vladimír Birgus, Ondřej Durczak, Michał Szalast
  • Coordination: Joanna Filipczyk

The exhibition has been granted the honorary patronage of the Embassy of the Czech Republic

The exhibition is as part of the Opole Photography Festival