For the second year now, the city of Baden near Vienna is hosting the photo festival La Gacilly-Baden, and all over downtown you can feast your eyes on outstanding photo-art. Huge photographs by acclaimed photographers from around the world grace building walls, line walking paths and frame baroque palaces. If the charms of Baden alone aren´t enough to lure you there, this exhibition really should.
Seven km of open-air gallery
I spent a Sunday morning ambling about this city turned art gallery, trying to take in as much of this extensive exhibition as possible. Really, I would have needed more time to walk along all seven kilometres of it, but with a family coffee meeting planned for the afternoon I had to skip about a third of it. Of course I plan to go back to cover the few parts I missed – it is still on view until the end of September.
The theme, A hymn to the earth, is an artistic and photographic documentation of the urgent environmental problems as well as the beauty of our world and of human existence in this world. The topic is broad enough to accommodate many types of photography, from wildlife to landscape to street, portrait, and even artistically arranged photographs of fantasy scenes. Some of the featured photographers are already world-famous, others are “emerging” talents. All are doing impressive work.
Claudia Andujar, for example, has spent 30 years documenting the lives of the Yanomami indigenous people in the Amazon rainforest. Her work and efforts have drawn attention to the plight of indigenous peoples and to threats to their habitats. Famous National Geographic photographer Nick Nichols is photographing wildlife in the name of protecting it. Or take Jan Schlegel, who wants us to see the beauty and importance of the smallest of creatures – insects and arachnids. In addition, in this exhibition he is showing some of his latest work Creatures of the Seven Seas (think fish and co.).
When you see these little creatures wiggling and squirming their way around us, you shriek, run, or squash them, as if you were taking on a dragon. And yet these insects coexist with us, living side-by-side with us in great numbers. We so very rarely take the time to truly observe them, to sit down and gaze into the eyes of these Monsters and Dragons. In this series, I wanted to emphasise their beautiful details to showcase them in their true light, and in all their glorious beauty. –
Jan Schlegel, Germany, quoted on the Festival Website
What´s in a name?
La Gacilly is a small town in French Brittany. This is where the nature cosmetics maker Yves Rocher had his beginnings. In 2004 his son, Jacques Rocher had the idea to initiate a photo festival at La Gacilly dedicated to the theme of humans and the environment. Contacts between Baden and La Gacilly evolved from a friendship between Jacques Rocher and Lois Lammerhuber, an important Austrian photographer and writer. And so the idea was born to mirror the French exhibition in Baden. What you see this year in Baden is what was on view last year in La Gacilly. And this way, it will continue, so we always have something to look forward to.
Hymn to the Earth
The 2019 Festival is dedicated to the planet Earth. Contemporary photography describes its exceptional beauty as well as the threats to humanity. Between orbit and microcosm, 38 exhibitions visualize our existence with an appeal for peace, tolerance and togetherness, born by a humanist attitude.
(from the Festival Website)
The guild of professional photographers in Lower Austria has selected 25 photos by 25 photographers on the topic “We are stronger! Because the future is female … “. Third from the left in the picture above is a photo by my friend Annika Posautz!
There are also a number of photos by secondary school students from a photography class – pretty impressive work!
Take your time
I would definitely recommend planning several hours to see it. Starting at the visitor centre on Brusattiplatz, the Festival path leads you through the old town of Baden, Doblhoff park (which also features the stunning Rosarium and a castle hotel), Gutenbrunner park and the Kurpark. Luckily there is plenty of opportunity to sit and rest, have a coffee at one of the local cafés, or lunch at the restaurant in Doblhoffpark while watching ducks and gazing at the display of ice-blue photographs in the adjacent pond. Entry to the festival is free!
For more pictures watch the slideshow below (may not work on all devices).