At midnight on Sunday 16 October 2022, the La Gacilly Baden Photo 2022 Festival came to an end.
The last day of the Photo Festival in Baden broke all previous records. In imperial weather, 9,865 photo lovers „flooded“ the alleys and gardens of the world heritage city. In total, 485,277 visitors attended the La Gacilly-Baden Photo Festival and its exhibition partners in Tulln and Celje. While 103,207 visitors came to Tulln, 142,000 photo enthusiasts saw the exhibition in Celje on the theme of peace. If you add the 300,000 visitors to La Gacilly in Brittany, the cooperation between the La Gacilly and Baden festivals is by far the largest open-air photo exhibition in Europe with almost 800,000 visitors.
„Respect and compliments for your unbelievable and multimodal cultural work in artistic and organisational terms, and currently in two respects: Festival La Gacilly-Baden and the ceremonial opening with peace photos in Celje: artistic, deeply humane counter-currents to war, violence and pandemic. Chapeau!“ is how Jutta Kleedorfer, an enthusiastic visitor, comments on the 2022 Festival.
Under the title DUE NORTH! the photo festival in Baden presented the little-known creative power of photo artists from Northern Europe who have maintained an almost carnal connection with the ruggedness of their homeland since the beginnings of photography.
With their different photographic approaches, the exhibiting photographers from the High North share a point of view that is mixed with poetry, occasionally has a touch of surrealism, but always aims to raise awareness for a better understanding of tomorrow’s world. In their own way, they are the artistic guardians of a positive civilisation. Artists who have brought Scandinavia closer to us in a very special way are: Sune Jonsson, Pentti Sammallahti, Tiina Itkonen, Ragnar Axelsson, Tine Poppe, Sanna Kannisto, Erik Johansson, Helena Blomquist, Jonas Bendiksen, Jonathan Näckstrand and Olivier Morin.
In the second narrative strand of the festival, two exceptional photographers shed light on the state of our environment: „This Empty World“ by Nick Brandt is a striking illustration of a world in which there is hardly any room left for animals to survive, overwhelmed by rampant human development. And Mathias Depardon’s „The Tears of the Tigris“ shows that the Garden of Eden exists – and is in danger. Located at the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the largest wetland ecosystem in Western Eurasia, which was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2016, is now in danger of drying up.
But the 2022 programme also scored with photographs by world-class Austrian women photographers: „It was with great pleasure that we presented three Austrian women photographers this year: A tribute to the great Magnum photographer Inge Morath, a retrospective of the doyenne of Austrian photography Christine de Grancy and the surprising work „Camping“ by Verena Andrea Prenner. And for the first time, the festival also awarded a photography commission to Gregor Schörg, only 21 years old, who used drone photography to portray winter in the Dürrenstein-Lassingtal wilderness area, the first UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site in Austria, a work that is just as much a part of the „100 Years of Lower Austria“ theme as the photographs of Lower Austrian professional photographers, who paid tribute to the beauty of the province of Lower Austria with their images,“ enthuses Lois Lammerhuber, Director Festival La Gacilly-Baden Photo.
Winning photos from the world’s largest photo competition, CEWE’s „Our World is Beautiful“, with 606,289 photos from 170 countries, rounded off the festival.
Governor Johanna Mikl-Leitner: „Cultural tourism has a long tradition in Baden and inspires with special highlights year after year. Within the framework of „100 Years of Lower Austria“, this year’s La Gacilly-Baden Photo Festival also dealt with the history of our beautiful province: With the exhibitions „Lower Austria in old picture postcards“ and „Wilderness area Dürrenstein-Lassingtal“, the organisers succeeded in paying a very special homage to Lower Austria.“
Tourism Provincial Councillor Jochen Danninger: „The La Gacilly-Baden Photo Festival has become the cultural fixture of the year and attracts many guests to the region every year! Besides the impressive outdoor photo gallery that has just ended, there is much more for visitors to discover in Baden. An excursion or holiday pays off in any case – even in winter!“
These remarks are also underlined by the presence of 106 national and international media, which celebrated the 183rd birthday of photography in Baden on 19 August 2022 during the Long Night of Photography, including ORF, MARKIZA TV, RTL, SAT1, VOX, FAZ, GEO, STERN, NZZ, FIGARO, etc.
„Five years ago, with the La Gacilly-Baden Photo Festival, the city of Baden began to embed photographic art in public space and to make top international photography accessible in an attractive setting. The concept has been a success – a quarter of a million visitors in 2022 clearly prove that the enthusiasm for the fascination of photography remains unbroken even after five years. Therefore, I am already looking forward to the next photo festival, which will take place in Baden from 15 June to 15 October 2023 and will be dedicated to the countries Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran under the title ORIENT!“, says Stefan Szirucsek, Mayor of the City of Baden.
Klaus Lorenz, Tourism Director of the City of Baden: „With the festival, Baden becomes one of THE cultural hotspots in Austria. The international art of photography combines with the wonderful garden landscapes and the World Heritage architecture to create a unique synthesis of the arts. For me personally, it is a great pleasure to observe the enthusiasm of the visitors and the lively discussions in front of the photo galleries in our city.“
Andreas Eucker from STERN comments: „Hardly a better place could be chosen to present an international photo festival of the highest order. An excellent selection of the best photographers makes it possible to view the entire spectrum of „life“. It takes one’s breath away to marvel at, absorb and internalise the dignity of the human being in its vulnerability. That is what photography can do. That is what this festival makes possible. A photo festival that has managed in a very short time to conquer a top position among the world’s photo festivals.“
Garden Tulln Director Franz Gruber: „The photographic interventions in the Garden Tulln set many exciting accents in the show gardens. The visitors‘ reactions were without exception positive, some downright enthusiastic“.
Celje in Slovenia was a festival partner for the first time. A large exhibition of 100 photographs on the theme of peace was seen by 142,000 visitors. Thank you Igor Rosina for the great cooperation.
And this is what the visitors of the Foto Festival in Baden say or write:
„Ladies and gentlemen, I visited the exhibition with my wife (on her initiative), although I had severe pain in my legs. And I have to say: I forgot about them! I haven’t seen such a strong, emotionally touching and perfectly designed exhibition for a long time and I congratulate you very much.“ Gerhard K.
„I visited the exhibitions in Baden and was overwhelmed by the wealth and range of content of the photographs.“ Edith M.
“I would just like to say thank you again for such a beautiful festival! I was so impressed by the look of it.” Tine P.
„I am just thrilled!“ Didi L.
“The articulation of everything – you’ve created such a friendly, human and joyfull event. The personality of your festival is strong and quite unique. Bravo!” Charles D.
“I am very happy that I could see so many excellent photographs, listen to remarkable lectures and meet so many interesting people.” Michal S.
„On the last evening of the festival, photo enthusiasts even stood in front of the pictures with their mobile phone lights.“ Verena P.
„I have never been so proud to be a citizen of Baden.“ Judith H.
Summing up, the festival’s co-director Silvia Lammerhuber says: „We are not only happy about the excellent visitor numbers and the refreshing interest of the visitors, but above all about the fact that we can carry the photographic and content-related messages of the exhibitions beyond Austria’s borders. As in previous years, a special edition of the exhibitions will be on show in Bratislava from 1 to 30 November 2022 as part of the Month of Photography.