Organ Vida: Engaged, Active, Aware – Women’s Perspectives Now

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Last week, a group of Croatia’s leading cultural pioneers welcomed the 10th jubilee edition of Organ Vida photofestival. Co-curators, Marina Paulenka and Lea Vene were joined by Nataša Ivančević, Paola Orlić, Morana Matković, Nevena Tudor Perković and Veljko Mihalić to address visitors and guests at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb for the grand opening, getting the festival underway for the tenth consecutive year.

The opening of the festival signalled the announcement of the second annual Marina Viculin prize to photographer Denis Butorac. Using personal experience as a driving force behind his work, he focuses on family, intimacy and the sense of ‘(not) belonging’.

© Silvia Bigi, The Blood and the Milk

Following the opening week, the exhibitions are now open to the public, free of charge, during  the month of September. Hosted by a number of galleries throughout Zagreb as well as in the Croatia’s biggest and most modern museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the works on display explore creative interpretations of the contemporary female experience.

Each show follows the main theme, borne out of a desire to combat modern socio-political issues that hinder democracy and the rights of women. The impact of recent global initiatives, such as the #MeToo, Free the Nipple and The Future is Female campaigns inspired organises, Marina Paulenka and Lea Vene, to tackle prominent issues from a photographic perspective, to seek to address “contemporary challenges and problems in the world we live in.”

© Nina Berman, An Autobiography of Miss Wish

The main exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Engaged, Active, Aware – Women’s Perspectives Now, is comprised of works by 20 female artists, all of whom have been selected by an international jury following an open call for photographs responding to the exhibition’s title. Elsewhere, Vigilance, Struggle, Pride: Through Her Eyes, a touring exhibition debuting at the festival, and curated by Marina Paulenka, features the work of 13 female artists who evaluate the politics of the female gaze, and the construction of identity in conjunction with family, home, gender, politics and sex.

Also co-curated by Paulenka is the premiere of American photographer Nina Berman’s work, An Autobiography of Miss Wish, which is being shown at the Nova Gallery. The narrative of the exhibition follows a woman, who has been subjected to sex trafficking, and her struggle to find physical and emotional security. At the MSU Gallery is 

Laia Abril’s exhibition, A History of Misogyny, Chapter One

: On Abortion, which has been shown at various locations across Europe, including Les Rencontres d’Arles, and has received several awards. In collaboration with VoxFeminae Festival, it approaches the conversation and issues surrounding abortion from a historical perspective, seeking to educate the audience on the consequences of the lack of legal, safe and free abortion.

© Amalia Ulman, Privilege

The festival will be participating in two EU projects this year, Parallel Intersection Zagreb and REFEST. Parallel is the first official platform for contemporary curators in Europe, and it implements a series of mentorships on a annual basis. REFEST: Images and Words on Refugee Routes is an exhibition in collaboration with partners and artists based in Croatia, Italy, Spain and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Together, they have created a platform to educate their audience through photography and to discuss important social issues.

If you can’t make it to the festival and the exhibitions, the city of Zagreb has awarded the Organ Vida Photography Organisation with its own permanent space. This will enable the organisation to facilitate future events throughout the year.

For more information about the festival visit:

© Laia Abril, A History of Misogyny
© Catrine Val, Feminist
© Gloria Oyarzabal
© Nausicaa Giulia Bianchi
© Julia Fullerton-Batten, Shadait Escort