Photography Challenges History
What I can do – I will Thought it be little as a Daffodil. That I cannot – must be Unknown to possibility.
for Anna Gianesini (1973–2013), curator of FOTOGRAFIA festival Rome and EMOP
european month of photography 2014
Photography Challenges History
table of contents Essays
7 Curatorial Statement Pierre Stiwer
82 d’Agata, Antoine 18 Birkin, David 88 Boukal, Tanja 186 Broomberg, Adam – Chanarin, Oliver 104 Cohen, Steven – Greber, Marianne 112 Cairns, Antony 154 Efstathiadis, Petros 136 Esterházy, Marcell 32 Floszmann, Attila 92 Frenkel, Vera 84 Galassi, Silvio 64 Gerhes, Gábor 132 Goldin, Nan 54 G.R.A.M. 146 Jermolaewa, Anna 176 Kloss, Stephanie 86 Knap, Noro 100 Lecomte, Tatiana 16 Lipuš, Marco 125 Mettig, Klaus 46 Mühe, Andreas
10 MemoryLab: The Sentimental Turn. Photography and Video Confront History Frank Wagner 58 The Staging of History: Photogenesis of Times Past Peter Burleigh 76 The Picture of Annihilation Doron Rabinovici 120 Tout le brouillard du monde Leonida Kovač 148 MemoryLab: Photography and Metahistory Bohunka Koklesová 182 Remembrance Oblivion Photography Éva Fisli
36 Nikolić, Vladimir 40 Olaf, Erwin 160 Olley, Jonathan 50 Ősz, Gábor 140 Paci, Adrian 170 Paglen, Trevor 116 Peterlin, Borut 22 Petković, Darije 28 Pezennec, Adrien 142 Pungerčar, Marija Mojca 68 Rheims, Bettina 164 Rogge, Henning 128 Rosenberg, Aura 24 Scheynius, Lina 70 Schmid, Anna Charlotte 96 Schönfeld, Sarah 109 Šoltýs, Tomáš 74 Speers, Vee 152 Starovecký, Juraj 174 Tur, Nasan 156 Vitaljić, Sandra 180 Zuleta-Zahr, Pablo
Appendix 190 Venues and partners 192 Acknowledgements 196 Imprint
European Month of Photography Arendt Award
Arendt & Medernach is a leading, independent law firm based in Luxembourg, with offices in Dubai, Hong Kong, London, Moscow and New York. Seeing art as a unique mode of communication with an impact both inside and outside the firm, Arendt & Medernach is committed to contemporary art, and to photography in particular. True to its passion, Arendt & Medernach wishes to encourage open-mindedness, diversity and the sharing of emotions. It is thus a great pleasure for Arendt & Medernach to be affiliated with the European Month of Photography. In presenting the European Month of Photography Arendt Award, Arendt & Medernach supports the art of photography and thereby seeks to awaken curiosity and a willingness to exchange.
curatorial statement Pierre Stiwer
The collective title of this catalogue which generously covers all 43 artists/photographers featured in very different exhibitions in six European capitals of the EMoP network has the advantage of not being too specific about what they have in common or what distinguishes them. The vast majority of these artists is concerned with recalling the painful events and aftermaths of the major European conflicts that marked the twentieth century. More recently, the Balkan conflicts. Others address the history of immigration and related issues of the origins of people, their identity, family or regional history, which is another way of addressing memory. How should the contemporary photography of the seven countries constituting the EMoP network in 2014 define itself in relation to a past that it is supposed to tell or represent? It is a difficult question. In particular it raises – beyond the cultural differences and particularities that characterize individual nations and cultural entities – the question of the veracity of the facts it tells, potential travesties or diversions in their social and political context. Art is no exception. All memory is selective, and the artist draws attention this or that event, forgets about others and proceeds to tweak what is shown. Originally, photography replaced painting and literature through an unmatched quality: its capacity to represent “reality”. The function of the photograph was to give credit, by means of a suitable picture, to what the journalist was writing about. It was supposed to rid the reader of any doubt and guarantee that truth was being brought to him through the photographic image. Nowadays, we know only too well how the photographic image is subject to the vagaries of the most subjective interpretations, and the photographer is no longer the undisputed witness to events he used to be. The work of Broomberg & Chanarin is a case in point, encapsulating a number of approaches taken by the artists of this selection. The website of the Saatchi Gallery in London introduces the work of these artists as follows: What is truth in photography? Bertolt Brecht claimed that photojournalism “has contributed practically nothing to the revelation of the truth about conditions in this world”. Could there be other routes for photographers?
Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin prefer to search for truth not in the first-hand recording of some current event, but in the turbulence of the near past, as revealed in archival materials. This short paragraph highlights the characteristics of the deconstruction-based critical approach taken by many artists/photographers of our day, in a world abandoned to chance and lacking certainties. They refuse to use photography as a means of documenting the world in a scientific or rational fashion; however, there remains the desire to be part of the unspoken and to play on the power of suggestion of art, leaving it up to the viewer/reader to bring their interpretation to the image. One might refer to Walter Benjamin who writes, “For the situation, Brecht says, is complicated by the fact that less than ever does a simple reproduction of reality express something about reality.” Many artists in this selection expressly admit to their inability to convey messages or to initiate a discussion in the accompanying notes. It has been said that the Holocaust silenced the poet and that it leaves us forever speechless. Photographs such as Sarah Schönfeld’s or Tatiana Lecomte’s are examples of a kind of photography that no longer seeks to reveal, because too many things are beyond the image and the essence is often indescribable. In contemporary photography, the evocation of the battlefields of the past, empty or deserted places as our gaze embraces the horizon of history, reveals how the photographer struggles with his device to “show” as he truly faces the confines of “saying”. Others, such as Attila Floszmann, Henning Rogge, Jonathan Olley and Sandra Vitaljić, present us photographs whose beauty and serenity is at odds with the acts of war they depict. By means of a quietistic aesthetics, the photography here sparks the memory of the viewer, since it is his memories that make the work of art speak, beyond its formal or aesthetic mode. Our personal relationship with the image and the events it depicts is a key element of understanding. In “Smoke” (1995), a film by Paul Auster and Wayne Wang, a tobacconist tells a regular customer that every day he has taken a picture of a crossroads in his neighbourhood. The customer is surprised at the banality of the effort until he discovers in one of these photos the picture of his dead wife. He is gripped by overwhelming emotion. At an exhibition such as this one, the power of art to address the visitor often relies on the visitor’s ability to recall his historical knowledge or delve deep in search of a memory or emotion that will “fill the picture”, so to speak, with additional meaning. When photography evokes political conflicts or wars, it frequently addresses a cultural or political subtext. Clichés about Nazism may, at first glance, help understanding because certain events have acquired a universal dimension. But this can be misleading. Images of Andreas Mühe or even Erwin Olaf conjure up from historical depths – through the pre-eminence of an aesthetic strongly influenced by the style of the Thirties – both the fascination with pompous grandeur as well as an ironic dissociation. The appeal of these powerful images comes with an uneasiness that stems from our inability to identify in them a clear moral or political
position. It is true that disorder of semantic content is a feature of contemporary art. Nevertheless, it contributes to the viewer/citizen becoming even more “lost in translation”. And sometimes it is an ironic distance that takes the upper hand, like in the works of Mühe, Rosenberg, Nikolić or even Schönfeld. On another level, it can be difficult for a non-Hungarian to fully understand the images of Gábor Gerhes. However, in the context of an exhibition, the installation acquires strength and conviction to produce anxiety and to become a nightmarish reminder of situations where the individual is confronted with authoritarian political power acting in secret. Other images, which are not directly related to historical events – such as the “transgender” photos of Bettina Rheims, for example, or the pictures of erotic violence of Antoine d’Agata – reveal a standpoint that can be related to the discrimination and persecution of Nazism and to contemporary nationalism or religious radicalism. On the other hand, the young Swedish artist, Lina Scheynius, seems to be closer to many European citizens who escaped the wars. She recalls with great sensitivity, gentleness even, the city of Sarajevo where she melds memories of conflict with intimate moments Saatchi Gallery, London. Website: of privacy. Based on this model, the past is thus reconstructed by the http://www.saatchigallery. accumulation of works of art, buildings, maps and images. Photography com/artists/adam_broomberg_&_oliver_chanarin.htm functions as a marker, hinting at something that is sometimes a blurred reflection of a memory whose understanding requires a special hermeBenjamin, Walter, “A Short Hisneutics. tory of Photography” in Classic
Essays on Photography, ed. Alan Trachtenberg. New Haven, In a world dominated by the media we are aware of events, but expeConn.: Leete’s Island Books, rience them in a way that combines dissociation and sympathy in the 1980, p. 213. original sense of the word. There are many photographs that disregard partisan positions. It is true that the majority of pictures in this selection are unanimous in rejecting war, violence and discrimination. Most often we are looking at a silent protest. However, it should also be pointed out that the organisers’ intention is also to jog the memory with a view to showing in contemporary art the permanence of political tensions, conflicts and implicit violence. The tense situation in many European countries today, unfortunately lends itself to this only too well.
Memory Lab: The Sentimental Turn Photography and video confront history Frank Wagner
Sentimentality usually brings gestures of empathy, nostalgia, and deep emotion to mind; it is a perception of the world that contrasts with the analytical Brechtian world view and opposes its very structures. People fear that addressing emotion might somehow cloud their eye and render dialectical relationships blurry. The concept of the sentimental used here is connected to a critical artistic practice and is quite different. The emotional – that which can be sensually experienced – is viewed as a communicative tool in order to attract attention, to voice an appeal, and to elicit strong reactions in the viewer of the image or photograph. The word “sentimental” derives from the Latin “sentimentum,” which itself derives from the verb “sentire” – to feel, sense, notice, recognize, think, understand and perceive. Inscribed in these meanings is an investigative and active aspect that stands in opposition to what is ordinarily understood to be sentimentality’s passivity. The artists currently presented in Berlin want their images to stir things up for their viewers, to involve them emotionally. They want to break stories open and analyze them with emotional competence. Almost all of them work in essay form and have developed photo series and narrative videos. In Aura Rosenberg’s video collage The Angel of History (2013), human inventions and cultural achievements since the dawn of mankind appear in apparent chronological order and then burst apart the very next moment; as Rosenberg presents the evolution of culture as a sequence of destruction resulting in the heap of rubble of our civilization, she is framing a reference to Walter Benjamin and his description of Paul Klee’s Angelus Novus.
Rosenberg visualizes the definition of history as an accumulation of catastrophes; at the same time, she makes energies visible that communicate with her angel, the witness to these events, in a corporeal way. Using dynamic images and a powerful soundtrack, the artist attempts to recreate in an effective manner both the vertical motion of the piling up of debris and the horizontal motion of future’s pull. The power of the ongoing continuous images also speaks of her attitude toward and fears concerning the reality surrounding us: a throwaway soci-
ety in which sustainability is paid lip service, but little more. Rosenberg succeeds in orchestrating the course of history as shock – a shock that overpowers us viewers and is meant to urge us to act. Programmes such as the docudrama and scripted reality – shows invented by screenwriters but presented as documentaries – have established themselves in film and television as formats for addressing history and the present day, integrating acted Aura Rosenberg: The Angel of History, Hiroshima, 2013 scenes in the historical material in order to convey atmosphere and visual appeal and to deliberately contradict original documentary footage. Many of these attempts have turned out less compelling than expected. The notion that viewers might gain additional knowledge of a specific historical period often turns out to be an illusion. There are, however, examples of historical treatment that are far more convincing. Some of the artists that were chosen by the exhibition project’s partner cities proceed in similar manner in photography and film. They create mises-en-scène, exaggerate, employ theatrical effects. They tell stories. The objects of their interest and the narratives connected to them are presented in such a way as to elicit a strong reaction on the part of the viewer – a reaction that is also largely due to the artist’s own commitment. One could bolster one’s argument with a term borrowed from music: “attack” – a powerful, example-setting allusion. All the positions selected here operate from a concentrated investigation into the nature of existence and existential questions. The artistic approaches brought together in Berlin enquire into a wide variety of topoi, such as war (Attila Floszmann, Marko Lipuš), escape (Vera Frenkel), violence and religion (Broomberg & Chanarin), propaganda (Andreas Mühe), beauty (Nan Goldin), surveillance and a shift in civilisational paradigm (Trevor Paglen), failed Utopias (Stephanie Kloss), history as a chronology of destruction (Aura Rosenberg), exclusion and marginalization (Anna Charlotte Schmid), sexuality (Antoine d’Agata), state terror (Nasan Tur, Pablo Zuleta Zahr), and isolation (Tomáš Šoltys); or they explore historical places charged with the politics of power, such as Moscow before Perestroika and 1930s Nazi Berlin (Klaus Mettig, Erwin Olaf). In the process, they pursue a relational approach once could succinctly describe as “a world that emerges in the eye of the viewer.” The selected artists employ all their photographic skills to uncover the truth and to decode it with their questions and knowledge. They act within a system that surrounds and structures us, and their subjective considerations are an attempt to formulate their interest in a particular theme in order to render it understandable and visible, both for
themselves and for us – and always on the sobering, but constructive basis that final truths and final knowledge are unattainable. This leads to methods that are as creative as they are effective, and – if the viewer is open to it – that offer perspectives of the events presented and their relationship to memory and history that are stubbornly individual. The Berlin-based Chilean artist Pablo Zuleta Zahr is himself surprised by the intensity of his works – photographs portraying Chilean schoolchildren in the underground ruins of a former secret interrogation prison of Pinochet’s junta. People were tortured and killed here. The children explore the abandoned clandestine rooms; they are confronted with a history they do not understand, but seem to nonetheless sense. Curiosity, uneasiness, fear, shock, but also adventure, playfulness, and a discoverer’s spirit can be read in their faces, gestures, and movements among the shadows of the ruins. The scene is minimally lit, using only flashlights; the images are blurry. They convey the haste, nervousness, and excitement of the boys and girls, who perhaps absorb something of the pain and suffering of the place, of the horrors experienced by people whose political opinions did not fit in with the dictator’s reactionary idea of society; of abduction and of murder. With great emotion, the artist observes a very young generation and the way it approaches today the political trauma of the 1973 Chilean military coup and the time of oppression that followed, which lasted until 1990. In a classical manner, Anna Charlotte Schmid portrays young gays in Budapest whose freedom is severely limited by state repression. What stands out most are their hairstyles and clothing, which serve as signs of recognition in a society where direct attempts at contact can lead to immediate punishment. To orchestrate the restlessness, vulnerability, and homelessness of her protagonists,
Pablo Zuleta Zahr: Puppies in Torture Chambers 5, 2010
Schmid uses clever lighting and precisely chosen, often transitory places such as corridors and entrances, or symbolic-seeming backgrounds such as abandoned factories or Venetian blinds closed to the outside. The artists here bring their personal interest in discovery to bear in their research and presentation of the seemingly particular and eventful. The focus is on searching for the existential. Sentimental Turn often entails aÂ connection of the events and the treatment of history and memory to the existential. This highly endangered preciousness of being and of human dignity might perhaps corre- Anna Charlotte Schmid: The Other Side of Venus, Gabor and Stefano I, 2012 spond to aÂ new longing for corporeality and real political involvement in society and community in an age marked by todayâ€™s digital communication technologies, easy Internet access to historical knowledge, and current news coverage. Translated by Andrea Scrima
Real Play Figures Marko Lipuš 1974 in Eisenkappel / Železna Kapla, Austria, lives and works in Vienna, Austria www.markolipus.com
With the Real Play Figures series Marko Lipuš continues the exploration of the portrait genre, while maintaining his distinctive formal approach with so called “scratchings”. In this case the viewer is confronted with portraits of soldiers, based on models, realistically shaped dolls, thus demystifying the role of a soldier in a post-modern society. Soldiers are depicted as depersonalised members of an imperial state, while also ironic, as Lipuš this time portrayed only plastic figurines. The Real Play Figures series brings forth a peculiar and topical theme of wars alluding to the code of “proper behaviour” of the US troops stemming from a secret military documents, as described and published on the WikiLeaks. Similar to his previous works Lipuš insists at his distinctive formal approach where the manipulation interferes with the materiality of the photographic medium by cutting and scratching the negative. Dejan Sluga
Marko Lipuš: Scratches TACTICS: Real Play Figures, 2011–2012, c-print, 60 × 60 cm, Courtesy of Marko Lipuš
Iconographies david birkin 1977 British born artist lives and works in New York, USA and London, UK www.davidbirkin.net
Iconographies (2013) comprises a series of original press portraits of Cold War-era political, military and religious leaders, each bearing their newspaper editor’s retouches and annotations. The marked photographs reveal an uncanny visual language that at times seems to belie its ostensible functionality. In one, an inadvertent crucifix hangs over the painted turban of an Ayatollah in exile. In another, Arafat’s moustache has been brushed up in a glaringly Orientalist gesture. Elsewhere, a photo editor indicates print density with a cloud of crosses that hover like kisses between Nixon and Brezhnev enveloping the word “rout”, while Kissinger regales in a daubed toga. Selected from archives of over half a million images, these small picture-desk proofs have been enlarged and de-captioned, but remain otherwise unaltered. Sold off at auctions that are in themselves a reflection on the decline of print journalism, such relics from a pre-digital age speak to both the careful construction of ideological agendas and the theatricality of popular politics.
David Birkin: Iconographies, 2013, C type prints: dimensions variable, ÂŠ and courtesy of David Birkin
David Birkin: Iconographies, 2013, C type prints: dimensions variable, ÂŠ and courtesy of David Birkin
Ghosts of the Past (2011) Darije PetkoviÄ‡ 1974 in Zagreb, Croatia, lives and works in Zagreb, Croatia
The Ghosts of the Past series is dedicated to the phenomena of so called May celebrations to which followers of past regimes and ideologies annually converge. The pictures are completely narrative. They document the gatherings of people at rallies in Bleiburg, Kumrovac and Ravna Gora, otherwise insignificant but symbolically charged places of different warring forces during the World War II in former Yugoslavia. Fervent sympathisers of soldiers loyal to the short-lived fascist Croatian Independent State (UstaĹĄas), of paramilitaries of the nationalist Serbian armed forces supporting the exiled Yugoslav king (Chetniks), and Communist guerrillas following the idea of Yugoslav cause (Partisans) are shown one next to each other. In past two decades the discourse revealing different interpretations of the World War II period has boomed across Croatia reactivating the collective traumas from the past. The photographs of fanatic followers of former regimes are utterly naturalistic â€“ they display the absurd of the past ideologies in the present. Miha Colner
Darije Petković: Ghosts of the Past, 2011, photographs. Courtesy of Darije Petković
SARAJEVO LINA SCHEYNIUS 1981 in Vänersborg, Sweden, lives and works in London, UK. www.linascheynius.com
In 2009 I received an email from a design studio in Paris called Be-Poles. They were working on a series of very special pocket-sized city guides. Each city would be documented by a photographer in any way the photographer found inspiring. I could chose any city I wanted to and stay there as long as the budget allowed me to and come back with whatever photographs I had been inspired to take. This sounded like a dream project to me so I immediately said yes. I had been focused on photographically documenting my life as a form of diary for a few years when their email arrived. A lot of the images I had taken were intimate pictures of me and my friends and life. I wanted this city guide to be a continuation of that work. I quickly decided I wanted to make my city book about Sarajevo. I had never been to Sarajevo. I didn’t know anyone there, and am not sure I knew anyone who had ever been there either. Being only 11 when the war broke out it had etched itself into my memory in a strong way, and I imagined that those vivid images that I still had of it were very far off from contemporary Sarajevo. I wanted to see what the city looked like today and hopefully offer others, who like me also might be stuck with the 90s images of a war-torn city, a new view on it. It seemed like a massive challenge, and I wanted one. Me and my ex-boyfriend packed our bags and set off to spend three weeks in the city in December 2009. For three weeks we walked around the city, talked to people there, tried to understand what had happened and what was happening today. I had my camera with me the whole time and photographed all corners of the city I found interesting. I also stayed true to my diary project and spent a large amount of my time in the city photographing myself and my boyfriend and the hotel room we stayed in and a close friend of mine who joined us for a few days. It was important for me that the book would be an extension of the diary project that I was already working on. Importantly, it was my private experience of Sarajevo and my time there. The Sarajevo book was published in 2010 and has been sold in bookshops all over the world, and the images have been shown in a number of galleries.
Lina Scheynius: Sarajevo, 2009, C print ÂŠLina Scheynius
Lina Scheynius: Sarajevo, 2009, C print © Lina Scheynius
Almost History Adrien Pezennec 1982, lives and works in Arles, France adrienpezennec.tumblr.com
A house, a cemetery, a bobsleigh track, a railway track, a diver, a blade of grass, a stadium, a statue, a bus, a poster, a tourist, a fan, a cab, a bridge. These pictures try to speak about history; to tell a story, a narrative of slice of history, stories, words... They are shown with captions that tell what you cannot see, something which is out of the lens. When fiction imposes itself on facts, it becomes the story of a bridge destroyed during a war, then rebuilt by the people of a neighbouring village, which explodes again in front of the lens of a film director who wants to tell the story of this war or the story of a prison camp demolished to fit the story of the film or the wishes of the city that once housed it. The movie does not speak about this prisoner camp; it is a fiction that is supposed to take place in another country. The camp becomes a village, and then vanishes. Today, only a signpost is left near a secondary road which spells “Memorial”. And then there is this something that will conjure up memories. The hands stretched out in salute of millions of party members, the howling apes in a zoo 50 km away from Auschwitz; those wearing these striped prison uniforms called “the Jews”. For a while I thought that the museum in Auschwitz is meaningless: I was wrong. It tells the story of society today and it needs the picture of a ton of hair to help understand the Holocaust. In Kosovo, you can see “Fuck Serbia” written on Bill Clinton’s statue. Those words are here to tell us that the United States gave more than one thousand billion to create a country. An icon falls from the bridge of Mostar. A diver jumps, like a Christ with bended knees on the very spot that cuts the city in a Catholic and Muslim part. The bridge was destroyed in 1993 by a Croatian shell. Today, divers are paid by tourists to jump. This project is a reconstruction of history through the stories people tell. Adrien Pezennec
Adrien Pezennec: Maison Mitrovica (House in Mitrovica), Mitrovica, Kosovo, 2013, ÂŠâ€‰ and courtesy of Adrien Pezennec
Adrien Pezennec: Socle (Pedestal), Pristina, Kosovo, 2013 Adrien Pezennec: Plongeur (Diver), Mostar, Bosnie-Herzegovine, 2013
ÂŠ and courtesy of Adrien Pezennec
Adrien Pezennec: Eglise condamnée (Church out of service), Pristina, Kosovo, 2013 Adrien Pezennec: Navette (Bus shuttle), Oświęcim © and courtesy of Adrien Pezennec
Silence after the revolution Attila FloszmanN 1982 in Budapest, Hungary, lives and works in Hungary.
The series consists of 20 images of an old Polaroid Sx-70 and Polaroid 600 which responded to the various impacts of desert weather in a peculiar way. Its relative dullness and the grain of the film lends a sort of an intimacy to the pictures which he felt was definitely necessary to preserve since the pictures were taken in an environment where the wounds of soul were still bleeding. The present time is being shown as an aftermath, in which the traces of war emphasize its lack of humanity and evoke a common sorrow that we are able to share with the people who lived there. The series is supposed to be a lyrical narrative about destruction without the brutality of its documentation, and being able to concentrate on something of greater importance The idea of the project is to place the events of the war in Libya into an alternative visual context in which the events of the Arab Spring appear not as raw material for reports but as signs going beyond the current and topical. Ever since correspondents have started reporting from war zones with the instruments of photography, the changes caused by armed conflicts in the affected environment, architecture and landscape - depending on the history and nature of the society concerned - have become less visible. The series is aimed to show these changes without having a horrific effect. The images help to understand the nature of the war and to show that the whole terrible process of the war is able to produce ‘beautiful’ installations. This can be achieved by showing the marks left behind by the clashes and the environmental elements, as a kind of setting, to highlight the silence between what has already happened and between the coming of an uncertain future. A tense structure and the choice of the suitable technique and raw material are important components of the presentation.
Attila Floszmann: Silence After the Revolution, 2011, polaroid, 14 × 14 cm. Courtesy of Attila Floszmann
Attila Floszmann: Silence After the Revolution, 2011, polaroid, 14 × 14 cm. Courtesy of Attila Floszmann
The First Murder Vladimir Nikolić 1974 in Belgrad, Serbia, lives and works in Belgrad, Serbia www.vladimir-nikolic.com
The assassination of Yugoslavian King Aleksandar I Karađorđević on 9 October 1934 in Marseille was recorded on film. The footage was distributed at the time, among others, by Universal Newsreels and introduced as “the most amazing pictures ever made”. From our perspective, we can see it as the first murder in a world of media, meaning the first murder of the twentieth century. The First Murder is a two-channel video installation showing a reconstruction of those pictures. The new pictures were recorded in a same way and on the very same spots where the original cameras were standing in 1934. This would not be possible, if La Canebière street – the place of the murder – had not remained almost the same as 70 years ago. There is no murder in the reconstructed images, only people on a street following their own paths and daily routines. In our time the images of violence and death have become a product. The fact that through the mass media we have been constantly exposed to such images for almost a century, has made us ignorant and immune to tragic events around us. Vladimir Nikolić
Vladimir NikoliÄ‡: The First Murder, 2008, Double channel video installation, 2'25" Courtesy of Vladimir NikoliÄ‡
Berlin Erwin Olaf 1959 in Hilversum, Netherlands, lives and works in Amsterdam, Netherlands www.erwinolaf.com
Since the early 1980s, I have been visiting Berlin on a regular basis, both for work and leisure. As astonished as I was then that it was possible to surround a city by a wall, even to divide it into two parts, recently I have been equally astonished how rapidly this city is shaping up as the centre of Europe. Berlin is a city in motion; the current political and economic situation in Europe more and more turns Berlin into the centre of Europe. This has become visible and palpable over the last decade in particular. At some places in Berlin, it feels like you are standing in the eye of the cyclone. Everywhere visitors are looking directly into the eye of a rich, and sometimes also dark, past. I have woven the topic of power, with which I have been captivated since I started taking photographs, into this theme, by juxtaposing children and adults. Erwin Olaf
Erwin Olaf: Porträt 05 – 9th of July from the series Berlin, 2012 C-print, 17 × 22,67 cm, © Erwin Olaf. Courtesy Galerie Wagner + Partner, Berlin On the next page: Erwin Olaf: Clärchens Ballhaus Mitte – 10th of July from the series Berlin, 2012 C-print, 181 x 120 cm/60 × 90 cm, © Erwin Olaf. Courtesy Galerie Wagner + Partner, Berlin
Erwin Olaf: Olympia Stadion Westend, Selbstporträt – 25th of April, Berlin, 2012
C-print, 25 × 16,89 cm, © Erwin Olaf, Courtesy Galerie Wagner + Partner, Berlin
Erwin Olaf: Porträt 11 – 9th of July from the series Berlin, 2012 C-print, 9 × 120 cm/75 × 56 cm, © Erwin Olaf, Courtesy Galerie Wagner + Partner, Berlin
Obersalzberg Andreas Mühe 1976 in Karl-Marx-Stadt, Germany, lives and works in Berlin, Germany www.andreasmuehe.com
In his series Obersalzberg, Andreas Mühe analytically reconstructs photographic images of the German past that have long since been banned from collective memory. His person of reference is Walter Frentz, a photographer who contributed much to the public image of the Nazi regime. But while Walter Frentz barely had time to pose his models, Mühe draws considerable attention to the way in which he stylizes his protagonists. In these posture studies, Nazis in uniform or standing naked in the studio are lit frontally. The poses, which appear extremely tense, are modelled after original photographs from the National Socialist era. In almost documentary manner, Mühe decodes records of the time and translates them into his own artistic language. A man in uniform faces himself in another picture, this time naked and painstakingly arranged in exactly the same pose. The tension in the man’s muscles and his concentration on maintaining the perfect pose only become evident after his clothing is removed. The studio serves both as room and background; dark, murky, and with shadows cast on the walls, it brings the past to mind. Like sculptures, the men – untouchable, unmovable, and almost absent from living reality – seem lost in the studio’s stark artificial light. The representation of power reveals itself to be an orchestration. Robbed of the aggressiveness of their status and temporally removed from the event, the Nazis in Mühe’s images immediately call failure to mind. In the landscape works, dense forests and high mountains that appear archaic and insurmountable take up nearly the entire frame. The sites were selected based on historical factors: the landscape in Berchtesgaden surrounding the Obersalzberg served as a private retreat for Hitler and his followers. The figures are always placed at the exact middle of the picture, while nature is relegated to the background and the staging becomes pure spectacle. Barbara Jenner
Andreas Mühe: Soldat am Obersee, from the series Obersalzberg, 2012, C-print, 140 × 110 cm Courtesy carlier | gebauer, Berlin, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014
Andreas Mühe: Stephan I, 2012, from the series Obersalzberg, C-print, 140 × 110 cm Andreas Mühe: Terrasse des Berghofs 44, from the series Obersalzberg, 2012, C-Print, 140 × 110 cm Andreas Mühe: Der Soldat, 2012, from the series Obersalzberg, C-print, 140 × 110 cm Andreas Mühe: Handschuh, 2012, from the series Obersalzberg, C-print, 140 × 110 cm
Courtesy carlier | gebauer, Berlin, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014
Andreas Mühe: Walter Frentz I, 2011, from the series Obersalzberg, C-print, 180 × 240 cm, Courtesy carlier | gebauer, Berlin, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014
Das Fenster / The Window Gábor Ősz 1962 in Dunaújváros, Hungary, lives and works in Amsterdam, the Netherlands www.gaborosz.com
While I was preparing for the realisation of the film “Das Fenster”, I often browsed the internet for relevant webpages. This is how I came across post-War photographs, probably taken by tourists, before the building was blown up in 1952. Maybe the reason they kindled my interest was that in this dark burnt-out locale, where once there was a window, now gaped an enormous rectangular hole, giving a strong radiant focus to this landscape framed in concrete. In this way, it was quite conceivable what Hitler meant when he said that the building was, in fact, constructed around the window. It seemed like the panoramic scenery itself was a picture, a projected image. It was not only suggested by the dark surroundings around the window, but the proportions of the window itself also reinforced the illusion of the movie theatre. It is well known that Hitler, like so many other dictators, loved movies. Thus, it may not come as a surprise that beside the movie-like format suggested by the window, a real movie screen was also included in the space. In the post-War pictures on the right side of the window we can clearly see the holes, behind which the hidden projectors were concealed. The great hall may rightfully be called the machinery of a systematically arranged spectacle. Measuring four by eight metres, the panorama window was the central feature of the room, not only because of its size, but also on account of the impressive view it offered. The window opened directly onto Obersalzberg’s famous mountain, the Unterberg. The mystic aura surrounding this mountain dates back to mediaeval times. It was on account of the mountain that Obersalzberg became the summer residence of Bavarian kings. Hitler always had a fascination for German mythology and the tales of great German conquerors alike. The mythical German history of the mountain constituted a reference frame for both the location of the Berghof and the windows themselves. He attributed magical powers to the mountain, regarding it as a great resource for ultimate victory. He seized it in the form of a political manifesto, wishing to exercise control and power over the landscape. Gábor Ősz
Gábor Ősz: Das Fenster | The Window, 2012 © Gábor Ősz. Courtesy of the artist and galerie Loevenbruck, Paris
Gábor Ősz: Das Fenster/A, 2012 Gábor Ősz: Das Fenster/B, 2012 Gábor Ősz: Das Fenster/C, 2012
Black and white inkjet print from engraved analogue negative (8 × 10 inch), 126 × 160 cm
G.R.A.M. Art group G.R.A.M. formed in 1987 by four Austrian artists Günther Holler - Schuster, Ronald Walter, Armin Ranner and Martin Behr.
The group operates in a fairly wide range of media (photography, video, film, performance, painting), their method of work unites these media. They simulate „paparazzi” practices, reporters or slapstick film protagonists. They are interested in what is offered by mass media, popular culture, and artistic performances which provoked resistance and indignation in Austrian society (Vienna Actionism). The authors take possession of the images through reconstructing them as if experiencing again specific historical facts or situations (performative photography). Notoriously known images are retold, rewritten, and as many critics mentioned, these newly constructed scenes are more comprehensive than the original itself. They replace popular figures from the world of politics, sports and showbiz. All the more, in their own way, they make the nature and meaning of the original event problematic. In the project ! (2005) G.R.A.M. is interested by the work of Heinrich Hoffmann, personal photographer to the dictator Adolf Hitler, who photographed Hitler in striking rhetorical gestures and poses for an edition of postcards. They re-enact these visual documents of controlled emotion captured in the photographer´s studio. Dynamic determination, over-dramatic pathos or smug grinning: G.R.A.M. repeats the stills of a fictitious appearance before a mass audience, thus portraying them as a classical stereotype in the lexicon of propaganda. The well-known series Parliament (Hohes House, 2011), the group GRAM presents brawling politicians and then a series of politicians sleeping at their desks in parliament. Their images are based on real photographs from all over the world (Kiev, Seoul, Taipei), which were widely published in worldwide orbiting media corridors. Verbal abuse, physical skirmishes or „sleeping valleys” in negotiations about the lives of people in the country question democracy itself. There are members of parliament who are elected by the broad masses activated by cheap populism. In a democracy the majority decides about the minority, including the intellectual minority, because everyone has one vote (Robert Menasse). It ceases to function because; to move the culture forward is considered as the most anti democratic attitude and because of the overall decision making of the plebiscite majority (RM). Therefore, “Transnational” democracy is more and more appealing. Bohunka Koklesova
G.R.A.M.: !, 2005
G.R.A.M.: !, 2005
The Staging of History: photogenesis of times past Peter Burleigh
In the photograph, we are often confronted with a surficial veracity, a picture of something in the world. Governed by the generality that the photograph is always of something, this supposed something appears real; real to varying degrees: a set of specifically photographic codes seems to condense, then reproduce, the conditions of our ocular perception so skilfully that we fail to abstract the image back into the realm of its mechanical mimesis. These astute operations that lead to the automated suspension of disbelief follow a tradition of realism back to the very appearance of photography, indeed beyond the nineteenth century, to much earlier representational mechanisms which already existed before the advent of the Daguerreotype or Talbot’s Photogenic Drawings. The mimetic paradigm of realism that has so dominated photography is born out of the trace, the photographic record, the bearing witness. It exclaims incessantly: photography is hard evidence of a that-has-been.1 Yet this clear-cropped rectangle is a blunt disguise, a stiff cover for a much more flexible condition. Indeed, the sorcerous elasticities in photography become apparent when we reflect less on what the image is and more on what it does. We need to counter-intuitively un-see photographs as material outcomes. Retaining in mind their visual nature, let us suspend, if only temporarily, the assumption that what is in or what is on a photograph looks like what its generator, the apparatus, “looked at” and then fixed at a certain, uncertain point in time. For it is precisely this index, agent of camouflage, that misleads our attention away from what photography might do intensively for itself, towards the extensive surface of the image which it provides for us. The techno-trick of the image as illusionist is to make the angles of its 2D print disappear, to make us look into the image rather than onto it. An automated process within our perception is triggered that inhabits a scene. Something like pictorial empathy envelops stiff contours with imaginary timelines and kinetic potential. Rather than expand the image, this process curtails its potential as an expansive and paradoxical dialogue between its existence as material entity, in-the-world itself, and a portico to a point in space and time so unique its only existence was marked by the sound of the shutter. The surface resemblance in photography is a blessing and a curse and most certainly only a small part of the visuality that inheres in it.
We can understand the photographic event as an actualization of two very different virtualities. On the one hand, photography actualizes light and produces visible forms of energies, flows, and fluxes, that although real would remain only virtual without the photogenic making of an image. In other words, photographs tell us about light; they make actual what would otherwise remain invisible. And indeed in this respect early photographers were perhaps right to conjecture photography as nature’s hand drawing itself, as some kind of self-reflexive operation. While in the very least a prosthetic instrument that enhances our ways of seeing the world, it is perhaps better to think photography as a way to generate visions of world or worldness which do not merely reveal nature, but reveal the nature of nature. So let us accept a drawing in its own likeness as a serendipity of by-products – a happy chemical accident that has subsequently led to much confusion and chaos within our paradigm of visuality. Whereas that first operation has to do with the spectral, in a second virtual operation, photography engages with the multiple registers of duration which construct our experience of time. While recording history – the contingent moment of a particular constellation of space-time coordinates, of participants and their relations, of objects and their arrangements – the photographic event essentially breaks with the coherent continuity of chronology, and is a staging, an intervention, a rupturing of time. It cuts open the potency of actuality, laying life bare as an intensity that we can repeatedly re-experience in the suspension of the passage of time: an optico-chemical illusion that nonetheless allows us to re-enter or rather construct all sorts of stages of memory through affect disguised as hard fact. Photography’s intervention in time has two divergent trajectories. In one, it halts the passage of lived experience, extracting percepts into blocs of sensation that are stable and unchanging – “the fleeting shadow”. 2 In a second, simultaneous but dissimilar movement, it opens up a duration that stretches the apprehension of a temporal passage, allowing for the genesis of affect within the image. Thus, the photographic artefact has a bi-directionality that induces a tension within the viewer between percept, on the one hand, which contributes to the mimetic, iconic and indexical interpretation of an image, and affect on the other, conversely pulling in a totally other direction, where the photograph exerts an emotional vitality which contributes to the emotive intensity that we experience as a viewer of such images. This extension of duration in the photographic image makes apparent three registers of time. One is a kind of zero time: the immediate instantaneity of recognition. A habit that is unconsciously executed, a passive synthesis – seeing the image as an image of something. This happens in real time but its duration is zero or approaches zero in the familiarity we have in looking: in this sense, it is a nil or empty past. A second register is one in which the present and the past are co-present, where in a single frame a before is synthesised with its after, the viewer’s now. Here, there is a crystallization of then and now as photography contracts specific coordinates of the past into the present as image events. The relation between
different passages of experience as before and after are generated from specific positions in a time flux, a direction in the flow of time and from the sense of duration. This active synthesis of time, locates us as historical beings within historical events. Yet, the past in the photograph is a present that always repeats itself in a “past in general”. 3 This third time register is one which is ever present, a pure past in which time has trajectories that roll out with a tendency of the present towards the future, and of the past towards preservation: enfolding what was, what is, what will be. In this complexity of temporal dimensions within the photograph, the first register is banal, habitual; the second is existential, the shock of what we experience in the image: time in itself; the third is ontological, is of the nature of the image for itself. An entry point to grasp such registers of time is the video piece by Adrian Paci. In Centro di Permanenza Temporanea, the dislocated wait and wait and wait, withstanding the unrelenting white dry heat of an airfield and the screams of jet engines. The bedraggled remnants of an undetermined conflict, a seemingly homogeneous pack subjected to monotonous routine, these individuals cast aside by the rampages of capital, technology and progress, are revealed as people with stories to tell if only we can get beyond the mask of image. Their time is bordered by a longing for human condition to be recognised inside a deeper ecological time and an imaginable future beyond a politics of division. The photographic stillness of the video suggests a history and its vagaries that are perpetually present in the curation of Luxembourg EMoP. Attila Flozmann’s series of unique Polaroids depict the surreal outcomes that arise from the unpredictability of conflict. The eerie leftovers, traces of scenes that we can only imagine, are shadows of the Libyan revolution. Under Flozmann’s eye, such dehumanized evacuated spaces are uncannily transformed into surfaces of intense compositional quality, freezing the event time as both hollow and stable through formal constancy. Contemplating a kind of organic-future-image that highlights the past, Henning Rogge examines the ways in which the natural environment recovers – at least partially through overgrowth – from the violence of war. Wandering through the Eifel, Rogge comes across tranquil and balanced scenes that are oddly unworldly. The photographs, dominated by the ideal geometrical forms of bomb craters set against a fecund nature, are silent encounters with a deeply ecological time through which human conflict is filtered. A first glance at Jonathan Olley’s images might suggest he is doing a similar thing. But where Rogge and the viewer move on through the forest, leaving the scene paralleled, reinvented but physically undisturbed, Olley extracts the detritus of war in a visual archaeology. Looking to recover a then through documentation in the now, Olley creates a mental museum in which the past is related through form to a present. These works play with a condensation of time drawing attention to the differing densities of past and present.
Other works direct their visual force towards personal stories in the flux of time. Tatiana Lecomte intervenes with the moments of history, constructing her own narratives, while interrogating the past through the mediation of its representation in the now. Her work reflects the crystal time of a past in the present, scat-
tering threads in multiple direction back to thens, and questions how different pasts are launched into the future. She makes the private visible, contextualizing it against the public, where the visual games she plays exude a phantom sense of menace. Another sensitive essence winds through Lina Schenyius’s delicately intimate suspensions of narrative. Documenting an investigation of Sarajevo, Schenyius touches on how we construe and unravel our realities through the way we see experiences, in so doing she draws past and present into a durable balance on a flat 2D piece of print. A first Vee Speers series wonders at how fairy tales of childhood have been transformed and corrupted through the war machine. The series of images – could they be Bertillon-like profiles fashioned according to Oliviero Toscani’s Benetton campaigns? – introduce a scientific, hence unemotional surgery into the instruments of conflict. As a counterpoise to these conscientiously discreet works, the deeply personal and singular emerges in Antoine D’Agata’s photographs that unflinchingly bear the sketched out and coloured in agony of war, genocide, abuse and a perverse physicality. They are generated from a “weird mixture of concepts” in which “fiction mixes with reality and with intimate situations” yet, in the end, produce what D’Agata suggests are “documentary pieces of work, understanding the world and being part of it, too.”4 The inwardly private is subject to an oscillation between past and present – the second register of time. A different approach to the territory of history and its supposed forward progression is mapped by photographers who deliberately confuse and conflate past with present. Aura Rosenberg looks at stratifications of culture that are a strange mix of the trash of contemporary evanescent everyday life with the grand spaces of history. Here, she blends insinuation associated with time-based practices – the things we do ritually, cyclically – with the proper disciplinary structures of strategic spaces nation states constrain us to. Contextualized in the historically familiar residues of WWII images, Berlin, London and a dystopic future present, her work alludes to the “past in general” which envelops us all. While Rosenberg places heterogeneous elements into a pastiche where the roots of those image components are transparent, Piotr Uklanski looks at how images write history and how images are historically passed, especially through episodes of mediation. Uklanski leaves open the complicity between actual images of Fascists and their fictionalised – especially filmic – representations: the distinction between our approval and pleasure is blurred. Through redundant immediacy, Uklanski’s installation becomes a blank canvas that takes the risk of allowing us to draw our own historical consequences on. Still intervening in past events, Andreas Mühe throws himself into the path of history to physically disrupt its imaging. Familiar icons that he refigures as self-portraiture or identity construction cast History as the story of “big men”. Yet, on a deeper inspection, Mühe’s images are a kind of staged über-degenerate art, and the infamous “pissing Nazis” he installs in the Romantic Obersalzburg deconstruct this myth of greatness as much as they might reflect how it had been. Olaf Erwin approaches self, too, as a set of staged moments, assembling himself with the aesthetic of a clean-cut Nazism. An anomalous volte-face in rehabilitation, the images could also be mistaken as medical instances, an odd cataloguing of types
extending the encyclopaedia of Francis Galton’s nineteenth-century composite photographs, August Sander’s cataloguing of social types in People of the 20th Century, or even Thomas Ruff’s 1986 Portraits. Time is driven into reverse. Finally, in this constellation, Bettina Rheims mixes certain with uncertain cues, developing an ambiguous tone in the moment of instant uncanny recognition, so setting up a vacillation in our confidence in the present. Her rhetoric of difference in accurate representation upsets our expectations of how we believe the world to be consequent. Photography itself as the invention of truth also surfaces: in Silvio Galassi’s blurred images, light actualized in the photograph seems to be repeatedly searing the image of individuals already projected into the past-in-general. Rather than identifying through likeness, the works veil the particularity of history – who was this figure pictured there and then? Instead, the photographic event is prolonged across a past to present through an intense and continuous scorching of both highlights and shadows. A second Vee Speers series places perfect models photographed under studio conditions against imaginary razed backdrops: stock images making the medium suspect in its reliability. And contrivance appears as Gábor Gerhes choreographs moments of ritual that, staged for photographic reproduction, are threateningly empty of content, but fearfully present in their degeneracy. We know that this is an impossible world, but a private internal logic gives this fantasy a legitimacy we would rather not admit to. It is history being made solely by image. The peripheries of vision and sense are interrogated by photographers who explicitly avoid the “generality that the photograph is always of something”, and attempt a form of spectral grammar and sense-making that is beyond representation. Sarah Schönfeld documents a revisiting of history through its preservation, consumption, and commercialization. The images, like so many of the others here, are as much about her and the viewers’ orientation to past events – in this case gruesome – as about the mechanisms of the historiography she engages with. David Birkin further probes the limits of visibility, raising questions about what remains invisible, inaudible, out of our experience. The displacement through time and space of experiences at the heart of conflict crucially exposes the trauma of history. Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin scrutinize in assemblages of found images the power of spectral activation in non-representational fields. They demonstrate how the interaction of information in the image and interference in its dissemination generates meanings; in uncovering diverse strands of misinformation, Broomberg and Chanarin perform something like a deconstructed agitprop staged on the surface of the photographic.
Finally, the genesis of image having duration itself is present in a number of works. Anthony Kern’s partially-developed, solarised and then re-developed images are marked by the accidents of their making. Recording the time of their emergence as images, they also uncover how built spaces especially are residues of past time which is slowly decaying away. Vera Frenkel’s Blue Train mixed-media installation revisits events both personal and documentary, crafting a multiplicity of stories and perspectives into a stream of associations, shared experience, revived mem-
ories. Her work is a metaphor of journey, partial and incomplete. Gábor Ősz’s poetic Das Fenster is a kind of memory-work, a reconstruction of how the panoramic view from a window now destroyed had previously been the frame around which a historic building was constructed. Ősz, plays out the tension between traditional compositional relations of visual formality – the landscape – and its precocious predictions of our now and future world of cinematic vision. Both inside and outside, the bunker is a metonymy for the human eye. In an appar1 Barthes, Roland, Camera ently simple gesture, Tacita Dean inscribes images with information that Lucida—Reflections on Photo was missing at the time they were made. Dean thus enhances a visual graphy, translated by Richard Howard, New York: Hill and grammar with language, attempting to make sense of the shallowness of Wang, 1981. image by deepening with text. In the vein of WG Sebald, Dean engages 2 Talbot, William Henry Fox, with a then, telling stories in a now that is already bygone. “Some Account of the Art of
Photogenic Drawing” in London and Edinburgh PhilosophIn these exhibition spaces, clusters of image-makers engage both with ical Magazine and Journal of our notions of time and with the ways in which photography renders Science, March 1839, p. 14. these complexities in different manners. What the photographers and 3 Bergson’s single term for artists convey, chafing off the surfaces they effect and we encounter, is a generic past that contains that time is an elaborate multiplicity, being particular, universal and virall of time – past, present (not yet actual) and future that is tual. In the virtual domain – an abstract but real realm of ideas – the connot yet here). Bergson, Henri, cept of photography-in-itself exists as a machine for the potential geneMatter and Memory, translated sis of technical images that articulate and make explicit our experience by N.M. Paul and W.S. Palmer, of time. So it is photography that can transmute temporal, durational Massachusetts: Zone Books, 1990. and existential intensities to actual forms – surface images susceptible 4 Matthews, Katherine Okto visual perception, investing time’s registers into graspable artefacts. tober, Interview with Antoine It is this signalization in photography that at an intuitive level gets us D’Agata. https://www.gupcloser to a physically experienced time and thus generates the intensive magazine.com/articles/410. Accessed 1.7.2014. affects of photographs. The inherent virtual elasticity of time and its actual visualization in the photogenic event makes for photography’s characteristic slipperiness. On the one hand, an actual image relates to a present in the past, yet when the “gaze” activates it in any now, this past is continuously brought up to the membrane of the present. In this repeatedly infinite gesture, a photograph turns into the spectacular capturing of a unique point; the supposed slice of the past becomes more like a crystal of time that drops out of duration, still radiating vigorously: a mirage, a trickster, mimetically mirroring you on its personal surfaces, all the while ruthlessly fracturing anything which enters it before throwing that back onto its source. With thanks to Sophie Jung for her critical input and insightful contributions.
Neue Ordnung Gábor Gerhes 1962 in Budapest, Hungary, lives and works in Hungary
“The enemy is the friend of the people” – Umberto Eco In the room installation Neue Ordnung, Gábor Gerhes,one of the most important figures of contemporary Hungarian conceptual photography introduced the viewer into the conspiracies of an imaginary secret society. The members of this fictitious society featured works can be labelled as Jesuits, Illuminati, Freemasons, Communists, terrorists or even extra-terrestrials. The artist traces his own reconstructive methodology and the rhetoric of conspiracy-theories to prove with his photographs, trophies and souvenirs that there is a world-wide secret society that is much bigger than individual countries and governments and which firmly controls the economics of the world with the only ostensible goal of gaining dominance and colonising and enslaving all nations. Gerhes’s series is first and foremost about hatred, the true ancient passion of humanity, about the way man always needs someone to hate in order to explain his or her confusion about the world, the despair of his or her petty existence, and the miserableness of his or her own vulnerability. The Neue Ordnung – the new order – is the order of hatred and aggression, the glory of dominance. At this austere and enigmatic yet often transcendental work, Gerhes pries into the nature of the relationship between the individual and the prevailing powers that be. Áron Fenyvesi
Gábor Gerhes: Neue Ordnung 1–10, (Ed5), 2013, foto/Lambda-print
Gábor Gerhes: Neue Ordnung 1–10, (Ed5), 2013, foto/Lambda-print
Gábor Gerhes: Neue Ordnung 1–10, (Ed5), 2013, foto/Lambda-print
gender studies Bettina Rheims 1952 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, lives and works in Paris www.bettinarheims.com
Monday, February 3, 2014 Yesterday afternoon, it was a sunny winter day, I walked along the Seine without reaching the Right Bank. Paris seemed to have been invaded; police cars were blocking the bridges, while across the Esplanade des Invalides a horde of “normal” families were demonstrating which, among other homophobic and racist claims, refused to admit to even the existence of gender theory ... I then remembered that, three years ago, I had posted an ad on Facebook inviting young men and women who felt “different” or “particular”, to contact my studio. I received dozens of responses, worldwide, demonstrating an eagerness to be seen, heard and finally recognized. The purpose of my work was to give them a voice – to bring them recognition. They came to the studio, to “lay themselves bare” – coyly revealed by the discreet styling of Jean Colonna. We interviewed them, recorded them, and Frédéric Sanchez created from this a beautiful sound work. Finally, I photographed them without makeup or anything in a very moving tête-à-tête. Twenty years after Modern Lovers – the young androgynes of the AIDS years – here are the Gender Studies. They had the courage to question their identity, to a point where they were willing to change it. It is a long and painful road. We owe them respect.
Léopold D. II, 14 juin 2011, Paris Pierre B., 7 juin, Paris Charly-Nelly A. II, 12 juin 2011, Paris Miles D., 8 décembre 2011, Paris
© and courtesy Bettine Rheims
The other side of venus (2011–2012) Anna Charlotte Schmid Anna Charlotte Schmid *1984, Essen, Germany, lives and works in Berlin, Germany anna-charlotte-schmid.de
In the limbo of post-puberty the revelation is the highly sensitive form of vulnerability. Bodily-change and self-confidence go along the dangerous path of realization of one’s identity. The motif of searching for the stranger and the recognition of self in the other raise the central question of portrait photography: the issue of identity and image. I capture these shy moments of young men in Eastern Europe and reinforce, as I put the person depicted in a pathetic ambience. The poetic discussion of the “otherness” is calculus. In some countries being different means fear of ostracisation, persecution and discrimination – where to go, where to stay? Where to feel reassured, where even to feel safe? They are not (yet) on the run, but look for shelter and security according to a protected place and so they find themselves on the side-lines of vacant, abandoned sites. In the end, these people are no longer looking for and no less than by their “very own“ identity. In the interplay of powerful presence and instable emotionality, their individuality in a moment of solitude is stolen. Concise gestures and photographic arrangements solve the singular sensitivity to general codes. All these people are metaphors for authentic emotion. The apparent sobriety of the photographs is linked objectively – documented on subjective experiences. The historical situation of a nation can suddenly peek out of a picture. Spaces that appear like stages are taken out of context and suggest detailed historical chasms. Thus, the silent film still-like photographs visualize the secret longings of the “protagonists” of a society who are alienated from themselves, as well as the fragile relationship that has become reality through which they move as if hypnotized. Between reality and imagination, these young men revolve around their life-panic as “actors” and solidify contemplative in these portraits. However, the subversive energy that builds up behind the surface of solidification is not to be underestimated. Anna Charlotte Schmid
Anna Charlotte Schmid: Gabor and Stefano III from the series The Other Side of Venus, Budapest 2012 110 × 136 cm, C-print. Courtesy the artist
Anna Charlotte Schmid: Kolos and Gabor I from the series The Other Side of Venus, Budapest 2011
116 × 142 cm, C-print. Courtesy the artist
Anna Charlotte Schmid: Armin I from the series The Other Side of Venus, Budapest 2012 116 × 142 cm, C-print. Courtesy the artist
Immortal Vee Speers 1962 in Newcastle, Australia, lives and works in Paris, France www.veespeers.com
We all think about our mortality but cannot imagine growing old. Our society is obsessed with freezing time and avoiding inevitable death and decay for as long as possible. Vee Speersâ€™s latest body of photo-based art, aptly titled Immortal, plays on these age-old sensibilities and timeless longings while considering the very contemporary convergence of similar ideas, ideals and forms that have invaded our consciousness in our media-driven, technology-rich consumer cultures. At once alluring and disquieting, these portraits of naked beautiful youths are set against backdrops of Eden-like natural beauty, or scenes of post-apocalyptic destruction. These Immortals are real people, young and beautiful, but they seem isolated, exposed and vulnerable, trapped, distant, on guard, defiant, all alone in aÂ strange land, and confronted by echoes of subliminal fears and insecurities. With the smooth gloss sheen of fashion-model perfection and an air of computer-generated artificiality, Speers has created aÂ new world that merges Mona Lisa charm and mystery, with the melancholy of Dorian Gray, and the 3D cartoon poignancy of the movie Avatar. The surface is loaded with reference both to classical art and to the airbrushed Photoshop perfection of youthful beauty that has become the everyday obsession of western culture. These Immortals are all like tragic fallen angels, eyes opened with animal intelligence, looking out onto an uncertain future, not even aware of how perfectly beautiful they appear to be right now. Jim Casper
Vee Speers: Immortal #12, 2010, Cibachrome
The Picture of Annihilation Doron Rabinovici
They are the last witnesses. Their recollections tell the story of how they escaped extermination by the skin of their teeth. The murder of millions underlies their lives. They testify to what was done to them. The victims of persecution knew not what happened to them. Time heals nothing. What they speak to us about remains an open wound. Six people sit on a stage. One chair remains empty. Seven recollections. Sevenfold persecution. Three men, four women. One of them is my own mother, Schoschana Rabinovici. With my grandmother, she survived the Vilnius Ghetto, the concentration camps, and the death march. The rest of the family was murdered. I confess that I was hesitant when Matthias Hartmann, the director of the Burgtheater at the time, approached me with the idea of having seven actors and actresses read the stories of seven survivors. We were fully aware of the dangers a project of this sort posed. We did not want to paint in garish hues what needed no additional dramatization. We did not want to exploit the victims and expose them to sensationalist curiosity. We could not degrade them by making them mere extras in their own biographies. We needed to find a way not to wallow yet again in the sufferings of the extermination. We also wanted to shield the witnesses from new insults and injuries. All these were things we needed to take into consideration; still, the opportunity was tempting: we would offer a prominent platform to those who had been stripped of all legal protections in this country, who had been taunted, beaten, raped, and robbed, who had been driven into exile or annihilated. The last witnesses: in their presence and with their involvement, we present their narratives. They are seated behind two translucent curtains serving as screens. The one further back shows them in a close-up view. The picture is supplied by a camera trained on them during the performance; the cinematographer takes care not to invade their privacy. The gauze veil closer to the audience shows projections of photographs meant to illustrate the text. Can pictures convey a vivid sense of the sufferings inflicted on the victims? To illuminate the darkest night is to strip it of its essence, of what makes it inscrutable and unfathomable. To merely reflect that darkness would not be a viable alternative: it would be a shadow play and of dubious value. It would spread no light. What is worse, the inexorable pull of curiosity creates the danger that the viewers will derive a kind of comfort from the gruesome spectacle. From the safe distance of the observer who is assured of his right to suffer vicariously with the victims, Nazism casts a powerful spell, a mechanism Saul Friedländer al-
ready analyzed in his “essay on Kitsch and death”; its title, Reflections of Nazism, suggests that the theatrical aspects of barbarism have not lost their power. The henchmen of the SS adorned themselves with the death’s-head symbol: they flirted with the demoniacal to intimidate their enemies and thrill their supporters. Extreme acts of violence became obligatory. They sought out the apocalypse; they proclaimed “total war”; they yearned for a cathartic cataclysm. Mass murder would pave the way for the salvation of the world. The murderers intended the sense of horror that seizes us as we contemplate their crimes. By being diabolical, they meant to fascinate. We watch until our eyes and ears fail us. What is presented to us not infrequently serves not so much to enlighten us than to blind us even more. We succumb to the power of representation and the representation of power. Early on, it was hoped, and not without reason, that the sight of the mountains of dead bodies would jolt people’s conscience back to life. Now everyone is familiar with the photographs, always the same photographs. The heaps of innumerable shoes, the mass executions, the living dead on the plank beds in the barracks… The great closing sale of ethical provocation leads to an inflation of atrocity, a collapse of the price of horror, a devaluation that deadens our senses and feelings. We become inured to monstrosity. The pictures from the ghettos and concentration camps are often no more than the backdrops before which our inner fantasies play out. What is worse, the critical study of the extermination puts us in a double bind. The anti-Semitic masses revelled in the images of debasement we now display with antifascist intent. Alfred Hrdlicka’s monument on the square in front of the Albertina, for example, shows a bearded Jewish man, prostrate, crawling on the street. It is meant to shock us by presenting a Jew in the very same pose the Nazis forced Jews to adopt for the mob’s entertainment. The crowds were thrilled by these so-called “scrub teams.” Equipped with caustic lye and toothbrushes, Vienna’s Jews were ordered to scrub pro-Schuschnigg slogans and symbols, such as the crutch cross (the symbol of Austrofascism) from the pavements. Where there were no crutch crosses, the SA painted new ones in order to keep the popular spectacle going on for months. In the synagogues, Torah scrolls were burned. Orthodox Jews were dragged through the streets, and to amuse the onlookers even more, their beards were shaved off. The victims were fair game: people were invited to unload feelings of passionate hatred and envy on them, to act out personal dis-
Lucia Heilman: The Last Witnesses. Seventy-five years after the pogrom of November 1938. A project by Doron Rabinovici and Matthias Hartmann, © Reinhard Werner, Burgtheater. Suzanne-Lucienne Rabinovici, Ari Rath, Vilma Neuwirth, Rudolf Gelbard, Lucia Heilman, Marko Feingold. The Last Witnesses. Seventy-five years after the pogrom of November 1938. A project by Doron Rabinovici and Matthias Hartmann. © Reinhard Werner, Burgtheater. Suzanne-Lucienne Rabinovici. The Last Witnesses. Seventy-five years after the pogrom of November 1938. A project by Doron Rabinovici and Matthias Hartmann. © Reinhard Werner, Burgtheater.
Lisl Ponger: Synagogue, 19. district,
Lisl Ponger: Palestine Land Purchase, 1. district,
Dollingergasse 3 (pic. 133), from the book:
Kärntner Straße 28 (pic. 13), from the book:
Ponger, Lisl and Heimann, Felicitas: Wiener
Ponger, Lisl and Heimann, Felicitas: Wiener
Einstellungen | Viennese Views, Klagenfurt:
Einstellungen | Viennese Views, Klagenfurt:
Wieser Verlag 1999, © Lisl Ponger
Wieser Verlag 1999, © Lisl Ponger
satisfactions and foul moods. The rabble bayed for blood, and blood would flow. Who, we may wonder, had the more promising strategy: the Nazis, who incited the jeering masses, or the sculptor, who, decades later, challenged them to reflect on themselves? The photographers who captured the ostracized citizens washing the streets in March 1938 did not wield their cameras clandestinely, they did not contravene the will of the new rulers. On the contrary: the cameras were meant to record these moments for posterity. The Nazis publicized these scenes not to prepare charges against the perpetrators, but to stigmatize the victims. These icons of persecution, which are now on display in every exhibition about the sufferings of Vienna’s Jews, were part of the discrimination meant to numb the onlooker’s compassion for the outcasts. Social annihilation prepared the ground for physical extermination. The antifascist monument as well as the Nazi propaganda show us the pained expression of humiliation, of ignominy and disgrace, in the faces of the victims of persecution. But neither brings the hideous face of anti-Semitism into focus. In some of the historic photographs, we can at least make out the ugly faces of a few instigators, hangers-on, and spectators. Hrdlicka, however, has made his Jew a leper; ground into the dirt, he has turned to stone. The sculptor did not have the courage to hold up a mirror to the bigotry and immortalize the culprits. I remember a photograph that ran in the Austrian weekly news magazine profil in 1995. It showed naked and emaciated men, “Mussulmans,” as the concentration-camp jargon called them. Bashfully looking at the ground or staring absent-mindedly, they bared their gaunt bodies and genitals to our gaze. The caption reads: “LIBERATED FIFTY YEARS AGO. Concentration camps; Mauthausen; survivors, Locale: Mauthausen, Austria. Date: May 5, 1945. Medium: Color print.
Photographer: No photographer recorded.” These are the keywords under which
the picture is registered in the collection of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. It is an absolute rarity, not only because it is in colour, but more importantly because it was taken on 5 May 1945, the very day the Mauthausen camp was liberated – and it reveals at a glance the dimensions of this camp, which some in Austria still deny. Who would allow his own grandfather to be displayed before the public in this manner? Who would want to be exposed in this way? The men who take it upon themselves to appear in this utterly unsparing picture are survivors. They bow to the duty of witnessing. It is their legacy. The feeling of guilt for having survived compels them to speak into the microphones of scholars, to show themselves to the cameras of filmmakers, to face the lenses of photographers. The murder of millions is the truth of their lives. But how sincere is our wish to stare at their wretchedness? My point is not to call for a ban on these pictures. It would be impossible to enforce. These scenes thrust themselves upon us. They cannot be censored. They are seared on our minds. Moreover, the victims’ right not to have their abject misery be used to cater to sensationalism collides with their right not to be perceived only as a mass, a mountain of dead bodies, not to become invisible as individuals. Anyone who tries to represent mass extermination will inevitably find himself caught in this dilemma. A prohibition of images would only reinforce the perverted view that transmutes historic crimes into a metaphysical event, as though Auschwitz were in some otherworldly realm and not a place in Europe. But there are sensitive ways of using photography. I recall the works of Lisl Ponger, especially her project “Viennese Views” (“Wiener Einstellungen”) which was exhibited at the Jewish Museum Vienna in cooperation with Felicitas HeimannJelinek and published in a book made by Wieser Verlag. The “Viennese Views” brings into focus what cannot be shown and let us see what eludes the eye. The pictures were taken at sites where Jewish life blossomed before 1938 and where it has been effaced. We read in them what has become invisible, what was once to be found in the places they show. The photographs document what has been lost. Lisl Ponger reveals the city’s blind spots. She subtracts the past from our present to create photographs that become afterimages of our reality. Today’s media titillate us with atrocities and abominations, competing for viewers by outdoing each other with scenarios of doom and celebrating the carefully calculated breach of the Christian Boltanski: Diese zauberhafte Familie könnte Ihr Nachbar sein rules night after night. Artists, mean- (This Charming Family Could Be Your Neighbors), TransAct, Der Standard, while, increasingly turn to documenta- 12./13.03.2000, 38, © museum in progress (www.mip.at) ry methods. A reversal of roles – I am thinking, for example, of the historio-
graphic gestures with which Christian Boltanski recorded traces of life, of the quest to track down a survivor he staged as a project for Vienna’s museum in progress. The question we have to ask ourselves again and again is this: how are the victims depicted, and how do the pictures affect their dignity? The camera’s point of view and the conditions under which an image is reproduced reflect relations of real power. For example, we see a group of inmates in a concentration camp. They walk past us and doff their caps. The camera is trained on the victims, and it controls our gaze on them. It directs us and sends a message to Christian Boltanski: Diese zauberhafte Familie könnte Ihr Nachbar sein us: here, walking in striped garb, are (This Charming Family Could Be Your Neighbors), TransAct, Der Standard, the victims. The camera judges the 12./13.03.2000, 19, © museum in progress (www.mip.at) victims. Whenever we have imagined them afterwards, the dead have greeted us, dutifully, just as they greeted – had to greet – their murderers. They take off their caps as the perpetrators behind the camera record the crime. We watch with the henchmen. The camera’s perspective dominates our point of view even through the testimony of our own eyes. As Joachim Paech explains, “what we see is determined by the manner in which we see it. The subject of vision is always also an object of the system in which it is seen. There is something violent to the apparatuses of vision; they are apparatuses of power.” The victims knew not what happened to them. The perpetrators occupied the privileged vantage point overlooking the scene, the same vantage point we try to gain as we seek to understand the centrally organized mass murder. It is part of the monstrosity of the crimes that we cannot elude this mechanism. Almost all pictures show the view of the murderers, and it is from their perspective that we look at their victims. The perpetrators wish to see their atrocities buried in oblivion. Those who were murdered cannot speak. The survivors, however, speak. They face up to their memories. We must listen to them. In the project “Die letzten Zeugen” (The Last Witnesses), they had the last word. It was their narratives that the audience heard. Afterwards, they were encouraged to comment on the performance. Actors and actresses read their stories, but they were there to attest to their authenticity. What we staged was the handing-down of memory, a relay race of recollection. The performance showed the instant history was passed on. A production of this kind would have been unimaginable twenty years ago, when the survivors were still the directors of commemoration. Events were held; they gave speeches. They were hardly ever invited
onstage. Twenty years from now, no new production of “Die letzten Zeugen” will be possible. We will no longer be able to commemorate the anniversaries of the mass murder with them. They will no longer be among us when their recollections are read. Every now and then, when I sit on a public panel with a denier of history, someone in the audience will get up like a deus ex machina to speak up against the lies, saying, “What are these fairy tales you’re trying to dish up. I can swear to it. I was there.” But soon there will no longer be anyone to stand up and witness to the truth. The photographs shown on the translucent curtain are meant not to drown out the stories of the witnesses but to illustrate them. We avoided the pictures of bodies in huge piles. Nor did we resort to the photographs of heaps of suitcases and shoes. Sitting in the audience, I see the picture of my grandfather, my grandmother, as Schoschana Rabinovici, my mother, talks about them. I look at Reinhold Duschka, the man who saved Lucia Heilman and her mother. Again and again, wee see the relatives of the survivors. Most of the pictures are taken from family albums. The photographs from the camp files of the Stojka children show the perpetrators’ view, refracted here by the story of the Romani Ceja Stojka. Not even the projection of a postcard produced by the Wehrmacht breaks the spell of the performance; the label explains what is being shown. Whatever we see is embedded in the words of the witnesses and accompanied by commentary. The camp gate; a bird’s-eye view of the barracks. The picture is not a distraction. It is meant to sharpen our attention. The alternation of scenes stops our thoughts from wandering, but it does not overwhelm the stories. The photographs underline the rhythm of the narrative and structure it. They let us see. They appeal to our senses and make us hear what the survivors have to say. Translated by Gerrit Jackson
Phnom Pehn, Cambodge Antoine D’Agata 1961 in Marseille, France, lives and works in Marseille and Paris
I use photography as a weapon. It allows me to face reality. Barbarous celebrations of the flesh dissolve in the reality of crime or deviance. Denial of all religious logics; experimentation against order; risk of contamination against obsessions with safety; promiscuity against organised frustration; violence against brutality of power. The narcotic insurrection is a form of cancer that devours order: morals might be a matter of patience. Carnal and narcotic disorders are both the symptom and the antidote, the last possible means of a desperate struggle to deny the strength of economic order, not to survive but to exist… Obscenity rests in the hypocrisy of laws, in the psychological brutalisation of the mass subject, in the culture of fear and insecurity, in the discipline of crowds fascinated by the spectacle of their own enslavement, or the promise of a new happiness. Art should be an antidote to that dramatic infection which neutralises minds and distillates death. The creation of novel passions and life situations is more imperative than ever to survive the current general anaesthesia. Globalised capitalism has neither end nor limit, but its corrupt logics provoke the possibility of deviant attitudes that undermine its moral assumptions… I choose to be there, in the geometric madness of the world, to witness with my own flesh the determination with which men undertake to annihilate men, how men destroy men, before making them die slowly. Excerpts from an interview in Dazed Digital
Antoine d’Agata: Sans titre (Phnom Penh, Cambodge), 2008, 80 × 60 cm, Lambda print
© Antoine d’Agata/Magnum Photos. Courtesy: Galerie Les filles du calvaire, Paris
ghosts Silvio Galassi 1959 in Esch/Alzette, Luxembourg, lives and works in France www.silviogalassiphotoart.com
In his series Ghosts in 2013, Silvio Galassi does not take pictures, but he makes pictures. In this series, as in the previous series of landscapes, he selects images from a personal archive of negatives bought at flea markets. The revelation, the development of the pictures then influences the creative procedures, based primarily on the selection of images. But where do these reinterpreted and re-contextualized portraits come from? This does not matter, because what counts for Silvio Galassi, is not the identification of an individual in the photograph, but the revelation of other hidden realities through the human face in the traces of time. Here, through its development and magical revelation, the photograph, as Barthes says in Camera Lucida, “announces the return of the dead.” Silvio Galassi shares this interest for the spectrum with Boltanski and for him the photograph, through representations of anonymous portraits of dead people, becomes what Jean-Louis Schefer, referring to Andrès Serrano, calls “the place of transfigured resurrection”. These blurred and smeared images of faces emerging from grey backgrounds install a doubt with the viewer who does not know anymore what he actually sees and what he imagines. In a way the viewer becomes himself an active part of the re-construction of the image. Thus, photography, for Silvio Galassi, is more than shooting; it is a practice of transformation, where transcription error and smearing are building the work and where interpreting becomes a continuation of the creative process. Paul di Felice
Silvio Galassi: Ghosts series, 2013â€“2014, scanned from old glass plates and modified in photoshop, digital print ÂŠSilvio Galassi
april 20 Noro Knap 1974 in Bratislava, Slovakia, lives and works in Slovakia www.noroknap.sk
Knap’s photographs and videos are made to capture the so-called “event“ potential of the city and its mostly dark sides. He is interested in the period of the Slovak State and dates and places when something gloomy happened. Another source of photographic reflection is propaganda – its gripping quality, crafty and pathetic formula. The great theme of current theories of photography is connected with the material of this type of “moral conflict” between beauty and truth, aesthetics and the ethics of photography. Knap chooses iconic images which he then locates and at the same place, at the same date in similar lighting conditions captured the “incriminated” places with his video camera. He nests the historical image into a liquid picture which he loops and allows it to emerge again and again. The aim of the project is to connect photography and archaeology, two procedures that discipline the traces of the past; working with the archives; cinema outside the cinema, a kind of a second life of photography in the space of a new media. The projection is conceived for a solitary perception, the choice of centrally composed images scraping the event statically, as if uninterestedly, he designated the film theatrical arrangement. It is as if the viewer were coming closer to the historical moment of the original image and gain , through the movie some distance and understand by means of the projections what is going on there. Knap’s projection is a reflection of historical memory.
APRIL 20, 2011 (HD video, 03'11") The same place, day and hour after 70 years. This film overlaps photography from 20 th april 1941 and videofilm from 20 th april 2011. 20 th April 1941, photography: Ladislav Roller, SNA, STK 1939–45 č.8094 “Birthday celebration for the leader Great German Empire Adolf Hitler in the capital of Slovakia.“ (official title) 20 th April 2011, video: Hviezdoslav Square, Bratislava
Rewind: Obersalzberg Tanja Boukal 1976 in Vienna, Austria, lives and works in Vienna www.boukal.at
With 300,000 visitors a year, the Kehlsteinhaus at Obersalzberg is among the most popular excursion destinations in the Berchtesgaden area. It attracts hikers and history buffs who come for a small exhibition at the foot of the mountain, but its historic authenticity also means that its appeal to adherents of Nazi ideology is undiminished. For a long time, the book and souvenir store in the building, which the NSDAP gave to Hitler on his fiftieth birthday, mainly sold glossy brochures containing propaganda photographs and keepsakes decorated with Nazi motifs.1 In multifaceted and usually serial projects, Tanja Boukal examines the perception and truth content of photographic images related to political, historic, or social events. In 2009, she travelled to Obersalzberg to take photographs of tourists in the so-called “Führersperrgebiet,” or Fuhrer security zone. With the help of old land register maps, she also identified the locations 1 See the German Wikipedia entry under “Kehlsteinhaus,” http:// of Hitler’s former mountain retreat and the residences of several Nazi de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kehlsteingrandees around it (with the exception of the Kehlsteinhaus, the buildhaus, accessed May 17, 2014. ings were demolished after the war), where she collected slabs of slate. 2 Boukal, Tanja, Political CorrectUsing digital collage, she then pasted black-and-white photographs by ness, ed. Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Tina Teufel, Weitra: Heinrich Hoffmann showing Hitler in everyday moments – taking a walk Bibliothek der Provinz, 2014, p. 13. hand in hand with a little girl, seated at a table, petting his dog – into her new pictures and applied the composite images directly to the stone slabs. Boukal’s meticulous montages interweave past and present, writing history on a support medium that is not only a witness to its time but also confronts us with the scene of the events, the “Führersperrgebiet.” Just as Hitler, in the images, mingles with the crowds of visitors, his propaganda is indelibly inscribed in this building and the entire region; World War II is part of our historical legacy. 2 Gunda Achleitner Translated by Gerrit Jackson
Tanja Boukal: Rewind: Obersalzberg, 2008–09, photo transfer, slate, various sizes, © Tanja Boukal
Tanja Boukal: Rewind: Obersalzberg, 2008–09, installation view at Museum der Moderne Salzburg,
2014, photo transfer, slate, various sizes, © Tanja Boukal
Tanja Boukal: Rewind: Obersalzberg, 2008–09, photo transfer, slate, various sizes, © Tanja Boukal
The Blue Train Vera Frenkel 1938 in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, lives and works in Toronto, Canada www.verafrenkel.com
The Blue Train, a multi-channel video-photo-text installation, is entered via a fragment of a remembered bed-time story that centres on a key phase of the 1939 journey of escape of the artist’s mother at the outbreak of World War II. The young woman, her infant daughter and an unexpected contingent of German troops are on a train to Paris, and, using stills, drawings and video, the journey is traced through the thoughts and feelings of 32 passengers, ancillary witnesses, with whom it may have been shared. Created in response to images in Ryerson University’s remarkable Black Star Collection of documentary photographs, and to material in the fonds of photo-journalist Werner Wolff, the work consists of two large-screen videos viewed as a diptych, the main escape narrative counterpointed with a silent companion piece based on Wolff’s letter and photos on his 1945 return to Germany, and accompanied by the short passenger narratives played randomly on portable tablets interspersed with stills from the same videos. The two journeys, serving as parentheses to World War II, allow the viewer to sense what lay between. Vera Frenkel
Vera Frenkel: The Blue Train, 2012, multichannel-video/photo/text-Installation, video stills from The Blue Train, (left screen ) and “Now that I Am Back…” (right screen) Courtesy the artist, with the kind support of: Ryerson Image Centre, Toronto
Vera Frenkel: The Blue Train, 2012, installation view at Ryerson Image Centre, Toronto
Send me a Postcard Sarah Schönfeld 1979 in Berlin, Germany, lives and works in Berlin www.sarahschoenfeld.de
I have noticed that writing about these pictures is as difficult as making these pictures speak out what happened. You cannot explain them without sounding flat and inappropriate or infinitely naïve. It always falls short of what is to be said and I really would not like to contribute a meaningless text to these images. Maybe a good statement on this subject would be that nothing is to be said about it or that any explanation just remains stuck in your throat. I would rather use Paul Celan’s “Death Fugue” to express the hopelessness and in some way the arrogance that underlies the work as a strategy. No one can really speak about Auschwitz; each posture is inappropriate or grotesque. The arrogance of silent laughter in this context – a self-portrait – seems to me the only naïvely and arbitrary act which opens up a space by its own failure to give meaning to the hopelessness of the situation. And this is the voice of the Greek tragedy that always means guilt. The self-portrait in front of the fence in Auschwitz: a reminder of an unforgettable moment. Is there a moral obligation to preserve Auschwitz of profanation by tourism, to consider as totally inappropriate the renovation of the site, the reconstruction of Auschwitz? Or is this an indissoluble ulcer that we must keep alive, so that everyone can continue to visit it? By installing hot dog stands and removable shithouses, through preservation and conservation we take away its power and menace. The monster is tamed and perhaps will allow us all the more to sense the dark side of human existence. The postcard is a tamed, trivialized form of paradise, the “other place”. But one could also write a post-card from hell. Sarah Schönfeld’s comments on her work
Sarah Schönfeld: Send Me a Postcard (detail), 2003, postcard – laserprints mounted on a magnet wall frame
Sarah Schönfeld: Send Me a Postcard (detail), 2003, postcard – laserprints mounted on a magnet wall frame
POSITIONS AT EL ALAMEIN. A MONTAGE. Tatiana Lecomte 1971 in Bordeaux, France, lives and works in Vienna, Austria
Pictures of Recollection Virtually no value is more closely associated with the essence of photography than that of recollection. Tatiana Lecomte’s haunting engagement with memory homes in on the point where personal and political histories intersect. Her work often involves found photographs that can reveal private perspectives on the past and especially on events in the political history of the twentieth century such as the crimes of World War II. These histories permeate the visual material; they may be concealed or represented in intentionally idealized form, as in ”Der Teich” (The Pond) or “Oradour,” 1 but they remain palpable. By using material from different sources, Lecomte also builds an archive documenting the characteristic phenotypes of analogue photography, combining her own pictures with photographs taken by others or retrieved from archives to intertwine attested history with personal experience. FKK am Strand von El-Alamein, or Naturism on the Beach at El Alamein, is the title of a series of 35mm slides from a group of slides Tatiana Lecomte salvaged from a wastepaper container. In it were forty years of a couple’s life together – everyday scenes, but also beach vacations including one at El 1 In 1944, SS troops burned down the French village Oradour-surAlamein in the 1960s – with one unusual feature: the woman always struck Glane and murdered its residents. erotic and sometimes downright pornographic “poses.” Only a few years After the events, the ruins of the earlier, the beach at El Alamein had entered history as the scene of very village were preserved as a medifferent events: in 1942, the Allies prevailed in two decisive battles and morial site. David Komary, “Scriptures without Words,” http://www. forced the German and Italian troops to retreat from Africa, defeating lecomte.mur.at/media/krems.pdf the German attempt to take the Suez Canal, an important strategic ob(accessed May 14, 2014). jective. 2 Sea of Sand, UK 1958, dir. Guy Picture for picture, Tatiana Lecomte lays out her montage of the disGreen; Commandos, Italy / West position at El Alamein before us. The material is drawn from the aboveGermany 1968, dir. Armando Crispino; El Alamein—The Line of Fire, Italy mentioned private archives as well as history books and films2; some of 2002, dir. Enzo Monteleone. the pictures were taken during the artist’s own vacation. The viewer is invited to identify the origin of each photograph based on the photo-
graphic quality. The grand history of World War II – airstrikes, tanks emplaced on the beach, injured and dead soldiers – intersects with the minor and private history of a man who, one presumes, may have been to El Alamein before as a soldier. And as in Jean-Luc Godard’s Les Carabiniers, the external commentator’s hand turns the pictures into evidence of a history that has taken place. (Excerpt from an essay of the same title in DLF 1874 – Die Biografie der Bilder, ed. Bmukk, Vienna: FOTOHOF Edition, 2013.) Ruth Horak Translated by Gerrit Jackson
Tatiana Lecomte: Die El-Alamein-Stellung. Eine Montage. (Positions at El Alamein. A montage.), 2013 slide projection, 80 colour slides, size variable, © Tatiana Lecomte/Bildrecht 2014
Tatiana Lecomte: Oradour, 2007–09, C- and bw-prints, 126 × 122 cm each, © Tatiana Lecomte/Bildrecht 2014
Cleaning Time (Vienna) – A Shandeh un a Charpeh Steven Cohen & Marianne Greber 1962 in Johannesburg, South Africa, lives and works in Lille, France 1963 in Andelsbuch, Austria, lives and works in Vienna, Austria www.artslink.co.za/stevencohen, www.mariannegreber.at
Contemplating his own life, Steven Cohen describes himself as a minority: South African, white, homosexual, Jewish. He became known for his provocative and intensely physical performances featuring outlandish costumes, garish makeup, and highly symbolic accessories. In 2007, he developed a project for Vienna, specified and staged it on selected sites in collaboration with the photographer and filmmaker Marianne Greber. In Cleaning Time (Vienna) – A Shandeh un a Charpeh (A Shame and a Disgrace), Cohen brushes on his knees the pavement of three squares in dowtown Vienna that figure prominently in the city´s history (Albertinaplatz, Heldenplatz, Judenplatz). Dressed in a corsage adorned with a Star of David and a gas mask, a menorah or horn on his head, red high heels, a diamond stuck in his anus. Wielding a giant red toothbrush, he cleans off the dirtiness and grime. The historical references (immediately after the Anschluss, the annexation of Austria to the German Reich, on March 1938, Jewish citizens were rounded up in so-called “scrub teams” and”: “Jewish citizens in rounded up “scrub teams” were forced to clean the streets on their knees, removing pro-Austrian and anti-Nazi slogans with their toothbrushes), the explicit symbols, and the selection of the sites are easy to recognize and read; the radical aesthetic of the performance elicits a wide range of responses from passersby – dismay, consternation, reflection on the own role in a history of violence and persecution. Cohen himself intends an ironic perspective too by asking provocatively: given the absence of originality and humour from the official historical reflection on the industrialized annihilation of human life during World War II, is a pompously costumed, theatrical, (self)-critical and subversively ironic take on the atrocities of the genocide even permissible? One thing is certain: his performance is in-your-face and not as easily ignored as the stone monuments on the squares behind him. Gunda Achleitner Translated by Gerrit Jackson
Steven Cohen: Cleaning Time (Vienna) — A Shandeh un A Charpeh. Heldenplatz #0, 2007 A project by Steven Cohen in collaboration with Marianne Greber. C-print, 125 × 158 cm, © Marianne Greber/Bildrecht 2014 Steven Cohen: Cleaning Time (Vienna) — A Shandeh un A Charpeh. Heldenplatz #1, 2007 Steven Cohen: Cleaning Time (Vienna) — A Shandeh un A Charpeh. Heldenplatz #3, 2007 Steven Cohen: Cleaning Time (Vienna) — A Shandeh un A Charpeh. Heldenplatz #4, 2007 A project by Steven Cohen in collaboration with Marianne Greber. C-prints, 24 × 30 cm each, © Marianne Greber/Bildrecht 2014
Man on the river Tomáš Šoltýs 1985 in Prešov, Slovakia , currently lives and works in Vienna, Austria
Landscape underwent changes which art has always reflected. At present, memory appears as an integral part of the landscape and our everyday lives. Memory is all around us, where we walk, the ground is saturated with it. Thus we perceive the world, landscape and memory are interlocked with each other fluently and indefinitely. The alteration does not only relate to the changing of visual character of space. Although in most cases, changes in historical, cultural and social contexts are reflected in their external form. On the other hand, these changes can possibly reflect especially in a way of alteration, entering into visual form of space. Through distorting images of stereotypes we can uncover the layers of time and memory. Only on the basis of visual change we are often able to indicate and then realize actions, which run in the background. The performance took place on the rivers Moravia and Danube on 29 and 30 April 2011. It involved wandering on the water surface of the river. The performance reflected the aspiration of individual modelling of the memory theme; not the memory of the place but the memory of the landscape. Reflection of non-movement traveling / floating through the land works as time-capturing act; mythical pose of the walker on the water – paradox is without walking, creates tension; gives more meaning to the space. In my work the background becomes the main theme.
On the next page: Tomáš Šoltýs: Man on the River, author of photography: Peter Berko, performance took place on 29 th and 30 th of April 2011 on River Donau, Bratislava, SK, C-print
LDN* Antony Cairns 1980 in London, UK lives and works in London www.antony-cairns.co.uk
* LDN is an abbreviation of London.
What a city does, according to the analysis carried out by these pictures, is to differentiate time in relation to effort. On concourses, walkways and pavements the participant has steady expectations, for the way ahead is evident and calibrated. Then at a certain point the direct route leads into a labyrinth of staircases and ramps. There are several of these vertiginous interruptions in the series of pictures in LDN. In a maze the visitor has to pause for thought and to put two and two together. In such places we move vertically and horizontally, counting as we go. The city, under these terms of reference, is a kind of parkland in which we move and are invited to move in terms dictated by the design of the place: along indicated paths, pausing from time to time, moving automatically and taking decisions. We are conscious of having responded to an organized environment. The city, as represented in this study by Antony Cairns, can be sensed along those lines. But there is a lot more to these pictures than a novel reading of the city’s streets. The pictures originate as 35mm. transparencies, part-developed and then solarised before being re-developed for another five minutes or so. From inter-negatives contact prints are made onto pre-coated aluminium sheets. That is to say there are a number of stages, and a certain amount of handling of the material. What emerges is not a perfectly accomplished image but one that is marked by the demands of the process, by finger-prints, droplets and blisters. The picture itself carries as one of its aspects evidence of its making, the accidents and incidents involved in bringing the image to the light of day. So, on the one hand you may have a blurred and rhythmic view of a built-up landscape and on the other the small incidents of production: the fall of dust or a trace of fluid – all representative of contingency or of that other side of life that simply happens irrespective of schemes and planning. Ian Jeffrey
LDN_ 021, LDN_ 062, LDN_ 099, LDN_ 122, LDN_ 079, Silver Gelatin Aluminium coated print, 2012 © Antony Cairns
LDN_ 027, Silver Gelatin Aluminium coated print, 2012, ÂŠâ€‰Antony Cairns
The Great Depression (2012–2014) Borut Peterlin 1974 in Koper, Slovenia, lives and works in Novo Mesto, Slovenia www.borutpeterlin.com
Following the tradition of documentary photography, Borut Peterlin’s The Great Depression series of photographs records the visual iconography of deep economic crisis in the years 2012–2014. These include the motifs of deserted industrial landscape and empty manufacturing halls of factories that have bankrupted and therefore they do not serve their purpose any more. The artist has focused mainly on images of recently abandoned spaces depicting traces of human presence and reflecting (often very emotional) relation of former employees to their workspace. Produced in the technique of wet collodion plate, the photographs refer to the identical social and economic situation, the great recession of 1912–1913 and the great depression starting in 1929, that was taking place in the western world and led into the bloodbath of the World War I and II. By using vintage photographic processes he indicates brevity of historical memory and the cyclical nature of the history. Every generation, he says, is thus confident that history will not repeat itself. Miha Colner
Borut Peterlin: The Great Depression, 2012â€“2014, photographs. Courtesy of Borut Peterlin
Borut Peterlin: The Great Depression, 2012â€“2014, photographs. Courtesy of Borut Peterlin
Tout lE brouillard du monde Leonida Kovač
In 1956, Alain Resnais produced a short film called Toute la mémoire du monde (All the Memory of the World), which opens with the statement that, owing to the short-lived nature of human remembrance, people tend to accumulate countless auxiliary memories. Photography, film, and video could certainly be included among such memories, but the subject of Resnais’s essaying of human memory is the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris, which in his vision becomes the figuration of an uncanny, perhaps even monstrous, perspective expressed by means of permanently multiplying cubes and grids: endless corridors. At the very end of the twentieth century, we would be hurled into an abyss similar to Resnais’s by Matrix, a film by brothers Wachowski. Whereas a scene in Toute la mémoire du monde shows a zoomed-in book with a fabric binding that spells out “Zola”, the narrator’s voice tells us that, among other things, the Bibliothèque nationale holds the collected works of Émile Zola. Zola’s J’accuse – an open letter to the President of the Republic, published on 13 January 1898 on the cover page of the daily L’Aurore, set the tone to the twentieth century as its overture, while its railroad perspective was anticipated by the same pioneer of literary naturalism in his novel La Bête humaine from 1890. Meanwhile, railroad has been replaced by air corridors.
In a brilliant two-part essay that forms part of his ongoing socio-critical photographic project Fish Story, Allan Sekula has quoted Engels from The Condition of the Working Class in England, where the German philosopher described what he saw from the ship deck while entering the London harbour in 1844: “The traveller has good reason to marvel at England’s greatness even before he steps on English soil. It is only later that the traveller appreciates the human suffering that has made all this possible.” 1 Raising the rhetorical question of “why would anyone be so foolish enough to argue today that the world economy might be intelligently viewed from the deck of a ship,” Sekula explains the motives behind his enterprise, admitting that his statements are directed against the commonly held view that computers and telecommunication are the sole engines of the third industrial revolution. Contrary to that, he argues for the “continued importance of maritime space in order to counter the exaggerated importance attached to that largely metaphysical construct, ‘cyberspace’, and the corollary myth of ‘instantaneous’ contact between distant spaces.” Sekula is irritated by ignorance displayed by the intellectuals, and by their self-congratulating conceptual ag-
grandizement of “information”, frequently accompanied by peculiar erroneous beliefs such as the pseudo-anthropomorphic idea that most of the world’s cargo travels as people do, by air. He calls the phenomenon “blinkered narcissism of the information specialists.” Thus, “the proliferation of mail-courier companies and mail-order catalogues serving the professional, domestic, and leisure needs of the managerial and intellectual classes does nothing to bring consciousness down to earth, or to turn it in the direction of the sea, the forgotten space.” Reminding of the fact that it was the sea routes of the seventeenth century that brought about the emergence of the free market as a concept, Sekula indicates that it still takes about eight days to cross the Atlantic and about twelve to cross the Pacific on a ship, thereby lucidly concluding that a society of accelerated flows is also in certain key aspects a society of deliberately slow movement. “The ‘forgetting’ of the sea by late-modernist elites parallels its renewed intransigence for desperate third world populations: for Sri Lankans, Chinese, Haitians, Cubans, for the Filipinos and Indonesians who work the sea lanes. Air travel ensures that bourgeois cosmopolitanism no longer requires any contact with the sea. Social classes no longer rub shoulders in the departure terminals of the great steamship lines. And cruise ships, the floating apartheid machines of post-modern leisure, have a way of obscuring from passengers the miserable conditions endured by the third world crews who cater to their mobility and their desires.” 2 The air distance from Lampedusa to Oświęcim is only 1600 kilometres. What is the distance in memory? The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia art in Madrid, where the Guernica arrived in 1981 after many decades of exile, an exhibition segment called Is the War Really Over: Art in a Divided World was opened by Resnais’s film Night and Fog (Nuit et Brouillard), created ten years after the liberation of dehumanised survivors from the Nazi death camps. While the film images show scenes from Auschwitz, the narrator’s voice asks: “Is it in vain that we try to remember?” Analyzing Resnais’s film, Phillip Lopate has argued that Nuit et Brouillard is an anti-documentary: we cannot “document” this particular reality as it is too heinous, we would be defeated in advance. Asking what can be done, Lopate observes that Resnais and his screenwriter Jean Cayrol (a former camp prisoner himself) have given the following answer: “We can reflect, ask questions, examine the record, and interrogate our own responses. In short, offer up an essay.”3 When speaking of industrial revolutions, one must also mention the price of labour or, translated into explicit terms, the value of human life. And that is the place in which modernity, and then post-modernity, defined by the scientific and consequently technological revolutions which have generated the concept of free market and the economic growth as the imperative of today’s global neo-liberalism, is merged with the concept of death camps, in which Giorgio Agamben has identified the contemporary bio-political paradigm. In his study on the invention of photographic meaning, Sekula argued that photographic “literacy” was an acquired skill, and that no intrinsic or universal meaning
could be ascribed to the photographic image. Starting from the premise that information was an outcome of culturally determined relations, he claimed that the need of inscribing an intrinsic meaning to the photographic image, which is at the core of the established myth of photographic truth, was a “particularly obstinate bit of bourgeois folklore.”4 Ten years later, Jean Baudrillard would come to a similar conclusion. Writing about the violence that had been done to the image, he concluded that the image in itself was linked neither to the truth nor to the reality, but was an illusion itself, and linked to illusion. That is what creates its magical link with the illusion of the world as it is, one that “reminds us that the real is never certain – just as we can never be certain that the worst will happen – and that perhaps the world can do without it, as it can do without the reality principle.” 5 And thus we arrive to the complex relationship between the spectacle and the reality. For Debord, the spectacle is not a set of images, but a relationship between the individuals, mediated by images. He thereby reminds us that the primary intent of the rule of the spectacle is to do away with the historical knowledge as such, especially the information and meaningful comments related to the recent past. The spectacle skilfully buries all historical memory and 1 Cited from Allan Sekula, keeps people in the state of unconsciousness. 6 It is for this reason that “Dismal Science: Part 1,” in: essaying is a strategy of resistance against spectacularisation. By exidem, Fish Story, Düsseldorf: Richter Verlag, 2002, p. 42. ploring the materiality of media images, by re-contextualizing them by 2 Ibid., pp. 48–51. means of raising questions, and by rethinking one’s own answers, essay3 Phillip Lopate, “Night ing makes it possible to view particular scenes in unexpected causal reand Fog” in Current, http:// lationships. In this way, the immovable photographic image can induce www.criterion.com/current/ posts/288-night-and-fog (last the movement of thoughts that saves the genesis of crime from oblivion. accessed on 10 April 2014). Zagreb, April 2014 4 Allan Sekula, “On the Inven Translated by Marina Miladinov tion of Photographic Meaning” in: Thinking Photography, ed. Victor Burgin, 2nd ed. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 1982, p. 86. 5 Jean Baudrillard, The Intelligence of Evil or the Lucidity Pact, trans. Chris Turner, chapter on “The Violence Done to the Image” (Oxford: Berg, 2005), 91. 6 Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle (Canberra: Hobgoblin Press, 2002), 25 and 192.
Vor dem Licht Klaus Mettig 1950 in Brandenburg, Germany, lives and works in Berlin, Germany
Vor dem Licht 1985 (Polarisation) propagates an iconography of the USSR mirrored through private impressions and transferred into a powerfully colourful, poetic composition. Klaus Mettig spent half a year in Moscow in 1985, and used this time to transpose traces of socialist everyday life into a photographic kaleidoscope. Photography of symbols of authority was rarely permitted in the Soviet Union, and Mettig, as an outsider from the West, was kept under surveillance. These specific working conditions were later reflected in the multiple-stage processing of the exposed film material. The exposures were reproduced with an instant-print film, details were chosen and their specific colours emphasized in image-filling dimensions. The intensive repro work done on the initial material promotes a hallucinatory effect reminiscent of blurry images from fever dreams. These are beguiling views of Moscow that could well have sprung from a sleep-deprived brain. Certain images are undergoing dissolution: grids, patterns and colour halos press into the foreground. Passers-by, slogans, television images, churches, a birch forest, the red star, signs and symbols time and again, monuments, Lenin’s Tomb, satellite towns. The motifs of some of the images are so powerfully alienated as to elude unambiguous legibility. Rainer Bellenbaum, in his review of the Berlin exhibition (Camera Austria, November 2008), makes reference to the painted icons of Andrei Rublev, recognising Rublev’s use of colour in this cycle of images. Frank Wagner, Between Yesterday and Today, in exhibition catalog: KLAUS METTIG ARBEITEN 1976-2010, NGBK Berlin/Museum Kunst Palast Düsseldorf
Klaus Mettig: Vor dem Licht 1985 (Polarisation), 3-channel slide projection, 81 constellations
ÂŠâ€‰Klaus Mettig, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Klaus Mettig: Vor dem Licht 1985 (Polarisation), 3-channel slide projection, 81 constellations ÂŠâ€‰Klaus Mettig, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
The Angel of History Aura Rosenberg 1949, New York, USA, lives and works in New York, USA, and Berlin, Germany www.aurarosenberg.com
“A Klee painting named ‘Angelus Novus’ shows an angel looking as though it is about to move away from something it is fixedly contemplating. Its eyes are staring, its mouth is open, its wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. Its face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, it sees one single catastrophe, which keeps piling wreckage and hurls it in front of its feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing in from Paradise; it has got caught in its wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels it into the future to which its back is turned, while the pile of debris before it grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress. The true picture of the past flits by. The past can be seized only as an image which flashes up at the instant when it can be recognized and is never seen again.” (Walter Benjamin, Thesis on the Philosophy of History) The angel of history is the inspiration for my film. Compressed into five minutes, this film animates the ruin and progress of history, starting with the formation of planets from gas clouds through to the present. The pile, culled from an online pictorial archive, depicts Benjamin’s single catastrophe. A flash of original paradise interrupts the cataclysmic momentum and reminds the viewer of the dialectic of history in which the past can be recalled only in relation to the demands of the present. Aura Rosenberg
Aura Rosenberg: The Angel of History, Helicopter, 2013, HD-video still © Aura Rosenberg. Courtesy Martos Gallery, New York
Aura Rosenberg: The Angel of History, Paradise, 2013, HD-video still Aura Rosenberg: The Angel of History, Ancient Grains, 2013,HD-video still Aura Rosenberg: The Angel of History, Hiroshima, 2013, HD-video still Aura Rosenberg: The Angel of History, I Am A Man, 2013, HD-video still
© Aura Rosenberg. Courtesy Martos Gallery, New York
Aura Rosenberg: The Angel of History, Over the Angel’s Shoulder, 2013, HD-video still Aura Rosenberg: The Angel of History, Industry, 2013, HD-video still Aura Rosenberg: The Angel of History, Lewis Hine/Trenches, 2013, HD-video still Aura Rosenberg: The Angel of History, Eye with Rubble, 2013, HD-video still © Aura Rosenberg. Courtesy Martos Gallery, New York
Scopophilia Nan Goldin 1953 in Washington, D.C., USA, lives and works in New York and Paris
Scopophilia, which consists of over 400 photographs culled from Goldin’s career, pairs her own autobiographical images with new photographs of paintings and sculpture from the Louvre’s collection. Organized around themes of love and desire, Scopophilia the Greek term literally means “the love of looking” reflects on Goldin’s intensely personal photographs, as well as the unique permission to the artist to photograph freely throughout the Louvre Museum but also refers to the erotic pleasure derived from gazing at images of the body. During these privileged sojourns, she wandered and photographed freely throughout the museum’s renowned collections of painting and sculpture. Of this project, Goldin explains, “Desire awoken by images is the project’s true starting point. It is about the idea of taking a picture of a sculpture or a painting in an attempt to bring it to life.” Based on the artist’s statement
Nan Goldin: Scopophilia, Swan-like embrace, Paris 2010, Chromogenic print, 30 × 40” © Nan Goldin. Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery, New York/Los Angeles
Nan Goldin: Scopophilia, Hair, 2011 – 2014, Chromogenic print, 45 × 59”, © Nan Goldin. Courtesy Matthew
Marks Gallery, New York/Los Angeles
The End of the Long March Marcell Esterházy 1977 in Budapest, Hungary, lives and works in Paris, France and Budapest www.esterhazymarcell.net
Based on an image found in the family album, The End of the Long March was taken on 19 October 1935 on my grandfather’s estate, Csákvár. Móric Esterhazy, my grandfather, was an amateur photographer. According to the documents, the bull had been shot by Archduke Joseph August, Prince of Hungary and Bohemia. The night hunt coincides with the last day of Mao Tse Tung’s “Long March”. The bluish heavens in the photograph and the stars are the positive copies of mould and tear on the negative slide. Its abstractness, density, society-centred position and graceful playfulness are the qualities that distinguish this work in the bulk of those made in the past decade. It is a contemporary work while being genuinely related to modernism. Another merit is that this work can be simple and complex at the same time, while remaining clear and accessible. Any viewer who looks at the work with just a little attention can sense the human, social and political drama condensed into an astrological phenomenon. Marcell Esterházy
Marcell Esterházy: The End of the Long March (2011) photo, diasec, 110 × 65 cm
home to go Adrian Paci 1969 in Shkoder, Albania. Lives and works in Milan, Italy
In 1997, Adrian Paci escaped violent riots in Albania to take refuge, with his family, in Italy. On his arrival in the country, he temporarily abandoned painting and sculpture in favour of video, thus exploring new cinematic languages and means of expression. His experience of exile, the shock of separation and adaptation to a new place define the context of his first videos, through which he attempts to discover the roots of his past. “The fact of being at a crossroads, at the frontier of two separate identities, underlies all my work on film.” Gradually, Adrian Paci has distanced himself from his personal experience to deal with collective history in projects that highlight the consequences of conflicts and social revolutions, revealing how identity is conditioned by the socio-economic context.
Adrian Paci: Home to go, 2001 ÂŠAdrian Paci. Courtesy of Kaufmann Repetto Gallery Milano
Brotherhood and Unity Marija Mojca Pungerčar 1964 in Novo Mesto, Slovenia, lives and works in Ljubljana, Slovenia
As one of the socially engaged artists in the Slovenian context, Marija Mojca Pungerčar has been widely documenting the immediate consequences of economical and social transition in Slovenia. Brotherhood and Unity is based on found photographs taken by the artist’s father, an amateur photographer, and paired with the artist’s photographs of exactly the same locations some 40 years later. Double images are presented in matching diptychs. The artist focuses on the photographs of the construction of the famous Road of Brotherhood and Unity, the main traffic route in former Yugoslavia. In the 1950s and 1960s the road was initially built by young volunteers, the reconstruction of the road into the highway in the 2000s that followed was built mainly by underpaid, migrant labourers from the former Yugoslavian republics and other Eastern European countries. Pungerčar depicts and compares different moments in history determined by different ideologies; she documents the same place at different periods. Miha Colner
Marija Mojca Pungerčar: Brotherhood and Unity, 2006, photographs. Courtesy of Marija Mojca Pungerčar
Marija Mojca Pungerčar: Brotherhood and Unity, 2006, photographs. Courtesy of Marija Mojca Pungerčar
THE FORTIETH YEAR Anna Jermolaewa 1970 in Saint Petersburg, Russia, lives and works in Vienna, Austria www.jermolaewa.com
Did their lives turn out well? Browsing an online social network, Anna Jermolaewa stumbled across a photograph from her teenage years that she had never seen. Taken in 1986, it shows her with her clique of five fellow students at an élite art high school in Leningrad; they had sworn to each other to kill themselves on their fortieth birthday. In the West, such a suicide pact would suggest a punk attitude that became part of pop culture; consider slogans like “Please Kill Me” or “Waste Your Youth.” In this case, it seems to forebode the inward and outward emigration into which Russians, who are around forty today, have found themselves pushed by a power-hungry dictatorship and the marginalization of democratic processes. Anna Jermolaewa, who now lives in Vienna, went to look for her school friends, and after months of laborious research, she tracked down Lena, Nastya, Anya P., and Anya M. in Boston, Hong Kong, Canada, and Saint Petersburg. Then she went on a trip around the world to talk to them about the dreams they had harboured for their lives and find out which ones had come true and which had not: had their lives turned out well? She recorded the conversations on video; one of her friends did not want to be filmed and instead painted portraits of the group in the style of a sidewalk artist. In Jermolaewa’s multimedia installation, political engagement encounters contrary biographies that add up to the portrait of a generation torn between extremes: from alcohol- and drug-fuelled dissipation to the retreat into religiously motivated humanitarianism, from a career in bridal fashion design to a life of luxury among Russian oligarchs and mobsters. With the essayistic aesthetic of her video pieces, Jermolaewa creates a compelling alternative to the usual documentary interview techniques, political documentaries, video-talk formats, and online blogs. By combining video with paintings and drawings, the installation lays out an expressive oral history that insists on authentic articulation and unfolds before us as the novel of an entire generation. Ursula Maria Probst Translated by Gerrit Jackson
Anna Jermolaewa: The Fortieth Year, 2012, installation, mixed media, video, photography, paintings, drawings, various sizes, ÂŠâ€‰Anna Jermolaewa
Memory Lab: Photography and Metahistory Bohunka Koklesová
Ľubomír Lipták, one of the most respected Slovak historians, introduced the term “not experienced history” in historiography. He was referring to various cases of experiencing/not experiencing actual historical events from World War II in individual parts of Europe. He even tried to define a kind of referential sample according to which we can talk about four variants that create the structures of historical memories. It is interesting that these four universal characteristics are respected throughout all of Europe. They are relatively simple but essential: • Jointly experienced historical processes, trends and events, albeit different in intensity; • Identical events, trends and facts experienced differently (positively or negatively); • Historical experiences significant for non-Communist Europe, but which are absent in the Eastern European region; and • Events that we, Eastern Europeans, experienced intensively, but cannot be found in the historical memory of our partners in Western Europe.1 All four have been projected in the character of period art, but to a certain extent they have also affected the reflection of historical contexts in contemporary visual art. This “double experiencing” of history in the European environment has resulted in specific notions in art history such as double-voiced art history (Hans Belting, Mária Orišková), the second voice, non-western Modernism and different Modernism, which are frequently analysed by art historians today. These discussions and polemics unfold against the background of theories about the end of art history (Hans Belting) and the need to rethink art history (Donald Preziosi) and interpreting “art after the end of art” (Arthur C. Danto). It is interesting to note that in the context of these theories we are looking back from present positions rather than looking to the future. This is not a unique process in Central and Eastern European countries. The projection to the past was found in the work of artists particularly in times when we lacked freedom. In the course of the second half of the twentieth century we can observe in the work of many of them the effort to “revive,” to continue in the avant-gardes that were rudely interrupted by the political-aesthetic concept of socialist realism. The utopian vision of the avant-gardes was built on the effort to change the entire society according to
the new political-aesthetic categories (Boris Groys). However, the vision of the future, its change and a fairer and freer order is what is significant for the period following World War II in the Eastern-Bloc countries. The works of many Eastern European artists include quotations and re-interpretations of Russian revolutionary avant-gardes among others – but they are oriented on the future, they are frequently the means of criticizing the existing regime. The present “look back” is different in certain aspects and is related not only to the “cliché” about coping with fascism and communism. The reason for this “historiographical change” is perhaps related to the momentary state of society within which the ideas of the future and the passion for the search for new ways of its functioning are missing. Professional journals frequently state that after the fall of the Communist regime and the end of Cold War, both societies stood in expectation of some kind of positive rebirth or transformation of entire society. But nothing so essential has happened. The new imagination or vision of politicians and economists lacks creative potential. Post-Communist countries today are affected by a strong wave of nostalgia for socialist times and Western European countries are mired in disillusionment due to the fact that late capitalism, which won out over socialism, has run out of steam, while no other economic-political alternative can be seen on the horizon. Andreas Huyssen, a literary historian, compares our times to the period following the Great French Revolution, and states that it is as if the end of the époque is soaked in nostalgia and decadence. 2 Many contemporary art projects revisit the past through historiographical return, not through analytical studies of historical relations and contexts, but rather through the emotional modus built on memories and the romanticizing experiencing of past times. Therefore, the relation between history and fiction is the cardinal problem of such projects. Reconstructed events in photographs lay the groundwork for the creation of “fictitious worlds” (from the theory of “possible worlds”) which, while drawing from incentives in the past, ultimately represent the fiction itself. The relation between history and fiction is immensely complicated, and semantic analyses are predominantly applied in the field of the theory of possible worlds. The term “metahistory”, which can be understood as the cultural phenomenon of present times and which problematizes the relation of history and fiction, has been introduced within these discussions. 3 Many photographic works collected as part of the Memory Lab project are a reflection of the past, but reconstructed or visualized today. This forms a certain parallel to the thesis about the fact that history is always created de nouveau, i.e. it is always rewritten anew and that we have many histories (as well as endings) connected to the actual history, time and place. Most of the projects are connected to traumatic periods of our modern history. More than one artist has considered the question of the proper attitude to take regarding a given period of time. How can we deal with the images of a past that is so problematic? And the works take on a voice, but one that is not especially critical or pathetic; rather it bears emotional or sentimental implications. It is as if even knowing the fact and decision regarding the truth or untruth would not be necessary. Attitudes, which
convey to the viewer a distinctive emotional and decadent charge, which is naturally quite subjective and therefore also indefinite, are becoming predominant. Most viewers probably have a sense of what is going on in the picture, but a definitive condemnation of a certain historical event is not necessary. In addition, we are looking to the given period through our own experience from the present times. It is like a selection of certain moments from the past which are re-updated by our problems, uncertainties and instability. The characteristics of present times are based not only on economic and social instability, the permanent crisis of capitalism, but also on our lack of trust in political representatives, the weakening of democracy, the growth of populism, demagoguery and chauvinism. And one more fact which problematizes our existence – our inability to foresee the development of events; we are without a future. It is enough to recall the sarcastic line that is popular these days: The future? That already was... The selection of works for the Bratislava exhibition entitled Memory Lab: Photography and Metahistory focuses on a country that is, relatively speaking, able to powerfully record the atmosphere of a certain period. Many photographs are staged or declare by their nature the Romantic paintings of the nineteenth century combined with political and historical contexts (Andreas Mühe, Gábor Ősz). Romanticizing meditation in the countryside in contemporary art is overlapped by the problematic position of the individual in contempo1 Lipták, L.: “Neprežité dejiny” rary society (Tomáš Šoltýs, Juraj Starovecký). The memory of a place is [Not Experienced History] in: recorded by artists in the environment of essential historical events, and Lipták, L.: Nepretržité dejiny [Continuous History], photography represents a kind of layered historical palimpsest, rathBratislava, 2008, p. 58. er than a preserved definite attitude (Sandra Vitaljič, Tatiana Lecomte, 2 Huyssen, A.: Twilight MemoRogge – Henning). ries. Marking Time in a Culture It is very important for “artists to set out to peel away the layers of of Amnesia, New York: Routledge, 1995. memory, especially when they realize that it is freedom and not truth 3 Doležel, L.: Fikce a histórie that is the aim of their efforts.”4 v období postmoderny [Fiction Tranlated by Elena and Paul McCullough and History in the Postmodern Era], Prague: Academia, 2008. English version: DOLEŽEL, L.: Possible Worlds of Fiction and History: The Postmodern Stage, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University, 2010. 4 ZÁLEÁK, J.: Minulá budoucnost (Past Future), Brno: VUT a tranzit.cz, 2013, p. 19. This publication is bi-lingual.
Tresspasser Juraj Starovecký 1985 in Trenčín, Slovakia, lives and works in Slovakia www.starovecky.com
The Iron Curtain in former Communist Czechoslovakia constituted until 1989 an unbreakable barrier. People who tried to trespass the border were killed on the spot or arrested and put in jail for many years, treated as political enemies. Border zones, where access was strictly denied, were in many places as wide as 7 kilometres. However, a few brave, ingenious and resourceful people successfully crossed the border without being caught. The performance of Juraj Starovecký takes place in that former “forbidden zone” on the Czecho-Austrian border near Slavonice, a town that used to fall in the border zone. Only few people from outside were permitted to enter and the locals were taken to schools by car and bus, but were otherwise isolated. The performance is a reaction to this isolation. The video firstly highlights this topic and secondly draws attention to the lingering memory. It is the topography of the inner landscape of man. “If man’s life is considered to be a journey then the man travels through some land which exists in every one of us and which has specific rules. There are many different crossroads and interactions with the environment on this journey. I am trying to examine this inner landscape.”
Juraj Starovecký (Co-authors: Dominika Jackuliaková, Oto Skalický): Trespasser, 2011 video-performance, 2 × 1'
Bombs Petros Efstathiadis 1980 in Liparo Pellas, Greece lives and works in Greece www.petrosefstathiadis.com
The series ‘Bombs’ by the Greek photographer Petros Efstathiadis , deals with our paranoid contemporary globalized society. Since 9/11 we can’t escape bomb scanners at museums or airports. The threat is everywhere, the self murder terrorist became an everyday reality. A certain religion and origin became synonymous of terrorism. The bombs Petros Efstathiadis creates (and then photographs) are harmless and absurd. They are made out of soap, flowers, light bulbs or sponges. In fact, his bombs are made only to demine the concept of the bomb. His bombs are like children’s toys, a play that refers to war and terror while being perfectly harmful. There was a period of tension and despair in Greek society as the result of the economic crisis - and in a period of global confusion in general - Petros Efstathiadis’ bombs are a powerful and pacific answer to the absurdity we got ourselves into. Quite explosive in its naivety…
Petros Efstathiadis: Bombs
Infertile Grounds Sandra Vitaljić 1972 in Pula, Croatia, lives and works in Zagreb and Rijeka, Croatia www.issavitale.com
Landscapes in the photographs from the Infertile Grounds series are marked by trauma, historical events and human experience. Woods, fields and rivers are part of folk tales and myths, but have also become part of a rhetoric legitimising political systems and ideologies. Names like Jasenovac and Bleiburg went beyond their topographical referentiality, and each time they were mentioned included different possible interpretations and contextualisations. Sandra Vitaljić is interested in places that political rhetoric had used for copiously in inflammatory speeches during the 1990s, in places of institutionalised memory as well as in those that had never been marked by a single memorial plaque. After World War II, in the former Yugoslavia, the politics of memory labelled what needed remembering, and suppressed what it was desirable to forget. In the Infertile Grounds series the artist endeavours to create a place of memory within the space of the photograph, an alternative memento that is not created by ideology, but rather by the need to open up the space of remembrance for victims who are never going to acquire their own space in the official culture of memory. Miha Colner & Sandra Vitaljic
JASENOVAC, 2009 The Jasenovac concentration camp was a death camp in which men, women and children were killed because of their religion, ethnicity, ideological affiliation or sexual orientation between August 1941 and 22 April 1945. The camp was built by the authorities of the so-called Independent State of Croatia, installed in Croatian territory by the Nazi-fascist occupation forces and run by the Ustasha units (similar to the SS in Germany). The camp in Jasenovac was a place of imprisonment, forced labour and executions, primarily of the Serb Orthodox population, which was to be completely eradicated from the Independent State of Croatia. The goal was to create an ethnically »clean« territory, by eliminating the Orthodox Serbs, along with Jews and Roma, who were discriminated against by racial laws. A large number of Croats were killed in the camp as well – communists and Anti-Fascists, members of the People’s Liberation Army of Croatia, as well as members of their families and other opponents of the Ustasha regime. In April 1945, during the retreat of the Ustasha units, the concentration camp was mined, burned and destroyed. The remains of the camp buildings were used to build houses. The land the camp stood on was turned into a memorial. Through the use of hundreds of different sources and a critical review of data for each individual victim, a figure of 75,159 was reached. These numbers are not final.
Sandra Vitaljić: Infertile Grounds, 2009–2012, photographs. Courtesy of Sandra Vitaljić
BLEIBURG, 2011 When it became clear that the Quisling Independent State of Croatia will collapse with the fall of Nazism in Europe, a number of regime's Ustasha and Home Guard units and a number of civilians retreated in fear of revenge from the partisans towards the Austrian border in the hope of surrendering to the British forces. Around 30.000 people gathered near the town of Bleiburg. According to the agreement that existed among the Allies that captured forces will be handed over to the armies they fought against, the British handed over the prisoners to the Yugoslav partisans on 15 May 1945. A very small number of prisoners were killed on the plains near Bleiburg. Most were killed after crossing the Drava river, or on forced marches under inhumane conditions over long distances. Events that followed the Bleiburg are known as the Croatian Way of the Cross. The exact number of victims at Bleiburg and marches that followed has never been determined with certainty, and realistic estimates range from 20.000 to 50.000. In Yugoslavia, the events that took place in Austria and in the Way of the Cross were covered up and it was forbidden to visit Bleiburg. After Croatia gained its independence, perceptions were changed and Bleiburg became a place of pilgrimage. Commemorations are often mired by the use of fascist Ustasha symbols by some of the visitors.
BUČJE, 2009 At the very beginning of the Croatian War for Independence, the Serbian rebels, assisted by the forces of the Yugoslav Army, organized a concentration camp in Bučje, near Pakrac. The prisoners were held in the building of the veterinary clinic. A dozen women were detained in a separate area. The camp was operational from August to December 1991. More than 300 Croatian soldiers and civilians were detained in the camp at various times. They were tortured, starved, beaten and humiliated. Twelve people were killed and the fate of 41 people is still unknown. After disbanding the camp, the detainees were taken to Stara Gradiška prison and they were exchanged in January 1992 under the supervision of the International Red Cross. No one has yet been convicted for the crimes at the Bučje camp.
ADOLFOVAC (SLJEME), 2009 On 7 December 1991 five reservists of the Croatian police entered the apartment of a Serbian family named Zec in Zagreb. Mihajlo Zec, who was accused of helping Serbian rebels, tried to escape and was killed on the spot. His wife Marija and 12-year-old daughter Aleksandra, who witnessed the murder, were taken by van to the mountain lodge Adolfovac on Sljeme near Zagreb, shot and buried there. Although the killers were arrested and pleaded guilty before a magistrate, they were released because of procedural errors during the investigation. In 2004 the Croatian government decided to pay financial assistance to the surviving members of the Zec family in the amount of 1.5 million kuna. Subsequently, their lawyer withdrew a lawsuit against the Croatian state in the Zagreb Municipal Court. Adolfovac burned down in 1993. Once a popular hikers’ lodge, today is a just a forgotten ruin.
Sandra Vitaljić: Infertile Grounds, 2009–2012, photographs. Courtesy of Sandra Vitaljić
The Forbidden Forest Jonathan Olley 1967 in London, UK, lives and works in London, UK www.jonathanolley.com
Jonathan Olley is committed to documentary photography; moreover his work is strongly dedicated to the most objective illustration of things “the way they are” rather than “the way we would like them to be”. Although he is able to overcome the actuality of photo-reportage through motif selection and subtle interpretation, it is immediately clear that we are dealing with very distinctive aesthetics. Olley’s approach is often topographical and based on the long-term working processes which lead to extensive exploration of historical, social and cultural phenomena of chosen geographical places and milieus. The Forbidden Forest looks at the far-reaching effects of warfare on the landscape. The images focus on the battle for Verdun, in North-East France known as the “Zone Rouge” which covers approximately 1200 square kilometres, with limited public access since the armistice of 1919. During World War I, these hills and gorges were cratered by a continuous fouryear-long, artillery bombardment more intense than any before and any since. The mature beech forests that cover the hills were home to some of the Great War’s most bitter fighting; as many as 150 shells fell for every square meter of this battlefield. As well as being the longest battle of the Great War, the Battle of Verdun also has the ignominy of being the first test of modern industrialised slaughter. Not for nothing was the battlefield known as “The Mincer.” or more poetically as “the Mill on the Meuse”, attributed to the Crown Prince Wilhelm, commander of Germany’s 5th Army. In the book A World Undone by G. J. Mayer Verdun was described as “the mill on the Meuse that ground to powder the hearts as well as the bodies of our soldiers.” Miha Colner & Jonathan Olley
Jonathan Olley: The Forbidden Forest, 2009, photographs. Courtesy of Jonathan Olley
Jonathan Olley: The Forbidden Forest, 2009, photographs. Courtesy of Jonathan Olley
Bombenkrater/ Bombcraters Henning Rogge 1977 in Hamburg, Germany, lives and works in Germany www.henningrogge.de
The photographic research of Henning Rogge demonstrates that even 70 years after World War II, the traumas are not completely eliminated. With camera equipment, conductors and navigational equipment he roams the German province, wanders through forests, goes over fields and meadows. With the help of aerial photographs he identifies the places where bombs and grenades have driven funnels into the earth. In part hidden close to paths that cross the woods or on the fields that a depressed horizon keeps down, the holes have turned into silence and realities of solitude. The photograph itself is a soundless, motionless medium, it stresses the aura of times forgotten; recording, the past gives the inconspicuous place a different dignity. Henning Rogge’s approach is guided by formal, artistic rigour. Most frequently from a slightly elevated position, the lens approaches the crater, producing images of closeness and simultaneously preserving a distance. The viewer hovers over the imaginary place of the photographer and cannot move forward or backwards. [...] Henning Rogge regards his photographs as landscapes. Indeed, one might consider his images within the tradition of an idealising iconography, a genre where one seeks to withdraw from the society of men. The habitats (biotopes) which have formed partly in the water-filled holes could be considered as modern Utopias of a better world, but ultimately point to the loss in a world where nature is at the disposition of mankind. The Eidyllion – meaning “little picture” in ancient Greek – is, in its illusory beauty, also a bearer of unrest. [...] The hole of the crater also represents a hole in the reality of world history: The past is seen only as a residual effect that can hardly be met by the imagination. Very often, the smooth water surfaces resemble holes of which the impenetrable and black surface reflects not only the present but can also be compared to blind eyes that have seen the horror. It is not the intention of the photographer to translate this abyss into pathos, but the real bomb crater should matter as much to the viewer than the visual impact of the photograph. There is a rift driven between the image and the narrative, the visible and the story behind, between the past and the present, between Utopia and a pessimistic anthropology that can receive its confirmation through the wars of the twentieth century. Prof. Dr. Gunnar Schmidt (excerpt) by courtesy of the author
Henning Rogge: #58 (Projensdorfer Gehรถlz), 2010 Henning Rogge: Verdun, 2010 Henning Rogge: #66 (Mascheroder Holz), 2011 Henning Rogge: #83 (Beerenbruch), 2012 C-type print, various sizes
Henning Rogge: #41 (Rotterbach und Hacksiefen), 2010, C-type print
Trevor Paglen 1974 in Camp Springs, Maryland, USA, lives and works in New York, San Francisco, USA www.paglen.com
The American conceptual artist and “experimental geographer” Trevor Paglen investigates phenomena that are subject to the greatest level of secrecy, phenomena whose existence is kept strictly hidden from the public. Technically experimental and laborious research is required for Paglen to expose things otherwise kept hidden by the highest authorities, after which the artist converts his observations and discoveries into works of art and books. Often blurry, fragmentary, and isolated from their original context, Paglen’s images capture the seductive aura that secrecy generates in a characteristic dynamic of concealment and disclosure. His photographs record espionage satellites in the night-time sky, drones, and images from hidden military bases and CIA prisons. Paglen’s astro-photographs depict clandestine American missiles against a background of stars, astral constellations, and fog. Paglen used the observation data supplied by an international amateur network of “satellite watchers” to develop the project, after which he created a software model together with a team of computer scientists and engineers that is capable of representing the orbital movements of secret missiles. This enabled Paglen to make precise predictions concerning the flight paths of American military and espionage satellites in the night-time sky. Implementing technology originally developed for astrophotography, Paglen photographs what he calls “the Other Night Sky.” Paglen’s photographs of secret military facilities in the American West also make use of astronomical instruments. These landscape images show places that don’t even officially exist. The majority of the facilities portrayed are situated miles apart in the middle of restricted military zones and are literally invisible to the naked eye. In order to photograph these hidden sites, Paglen sets powerful astronomical precision telescopes with focal lengths up to 7,000 metres before his cameras. Dozens of miles of murky haze and heat appearing in the photographs, however, demarcate the physical and epistemological boundaries of seeing. Thomas Zander Gallery
Trevor Paglen: SINGLETON/SWBASS-R near Vega (Space Based Wide Area Surveillance System; USA 81), 2013, C-print, 121.9 × 152.4 cm © Trevor Paglen. Courtesy Galerie Zander, Cologne / Altman Siegel Gallery, San Francisco / Metro Pictures, New York Trevor Paglen: Debris, 2010, C-print, 50.8 × 40.6 cm © Trevor Paglen. Courtesy Galerie Zander, Cologne / Altman Siegel Gallery, San Francisco / Metro Pictures, New York On the next page: Trevor Paglen: KEYHOLE IMPROVED CRYSTAL from Glacier Point (Optical Reconnaissance Satellite; USA 224), 2011, C-print, 76.2 × 109.2 cm © Trevor Paglen. Courtesy Galerie Zander, Cologne / Altman Siegel Gallery, San Francisco / Metro Pictures, New York
Bautzner StraSSe 112A Nasan Tur 1974 in Offenbach, Germany, lives and works in Berlin, Germany and Rome, Italy www.nasantur.com
Nasan Tur’s work investigates contemporary social conditions and the impact of political ideologies upon individuals and urban landscapes. His installation Bautzner Strasse 112A (2009) explores notions of power, repression and uprising. Comprising fifteen photographs, each depicts a seemingly identical door taken from inside the prison cells of Bautzner Strasse, Dresden – a DDR-era remand centre. These images are hung within a restrictively compact room of exactly the same dimensions as the Bautzner Strasse prison cells. Founded in the 1950s, this prison was used by the Stasi to detain and interrogate over 12,000 political dissidents. During the East German revolution of 1989, protesters occupied Bautzner Strasse, peacefully encouraging the collapse of the Socialist Union Party. With the physical parameters of Tur’s installation exactly echoing the photographed prison cells, feelings of claustrophobia, entrapment and repression are elicited. Indeed, the work comments on the social injustices occurring behind closed doors and in prisons globally. Louisa Elderton
Nasan Tur: Bautzner Straße 112A, 2009 Photos of the Installation, Image Courtesy of the Artist and Blain|Southern, Photographer: Christian Glaeser, 2013 Nasan Tur: Bautzner Straße 112A, 2009, Pigmented Fine Art Prints in Mansonia wood frame each 32 × 21 cm, framed each 40 × 29 cm, © Nasan Tur. Courtesy Blain|Southern, Berlin/London
bei Otto Stephanie Kloss 1967 in Karlsruhe, Germany, lives and works in Berlin, Germany www.s-kloss.de
Guests learn nothing about what once happened at this location. “Family vacations have a very special charm here,” claims the “family-friendly” hotel El Cabrito. The former banana plantation is situated in one of the most beautiful parts of La Gomera; one has to travel by boat to reach the idyllic bay in the southeast of the Canary Islands. Most people do not want to know, but performance artist and commune founder Otto Mühl was driven by Chernobyl to purchase the land in 1987 and relocate here with 350 of his followers to live in a world run according to his own rules. This is not what is kept secret by the present owners; what is not talked about is the sexual abuse of children that took place here for years, both at the Friedrichshof, the commune’s main residence, and at El Cabrito. Stephanie Kloss’s investigations into the vacation paradise’s tainted past have yielded images of traces that are either hidden or, more frequently, missing altogether. A palm tree reflected in the water, views of rugged mountain formations and sparkling sea, a proliferation of subtropical plants, banal pre-fab bungalows: there is nothing here to indicate the despotism that took hold of Mühl, particularly in the commune’s final days; nothing to hint at the self-destruction of its members, which would ultimately cause this vision of a new kind of life liberated from all social and moral dictates to fail. Just as there is little to see of this on site, Kloss’s photographs reveal nearly nothing of the fact that an experiment in social utopia took place here on the terraces with threadbare furniture, in the playing pond with a slide, or in the huts where “free” love was practiced with sex partners dictated from above – an experiment that ended in a power craze and group terror. Children were taken away from their parents or alienated from them, subjected to tormenting disciplinary rituals, and forced to provide sexual services to Mühl. In El Cabrito, a cloak of silence lies over these crimes. The images of Stephanie Kloss are aimed at this very act of forgetting. Sebastian Preuss
Stephanie Kloss: from the series Bei Otto, 2010/2014 #6 („Kunst und Revolution“) #5 („Generationen übergreifende Zärtlichkeit“) #3 („Selbstdarstellung“) #1 („Jus primae noctis“) 145 × 110 cm, color pigment print on newspaper, AluDiBond © Stephanie Kloss: VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014; with the kind support of: termindruck ®, Berlin
Stephanie Kloss: from the series Bei Otto, 2010/2014 #7 („Wer mich nicht liebt, ist ein Psychopath“) #2 („Unser Paradies im Süden“) 145 × 110 cm, color pigment print on newspaper, AluDiBond © Stephanie Kloss: VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014; with the kind support of: termindruck ®, Berlin
Puppies in Torture Chambers Pablo Zuleta Zahr 1978, Viña del Mar, Chile, lives and works in Berlin, Germany www.zuletazahr.com
The photographic series Puppies in Torture Chambers is based on my encounters with Chilean children living in an abandoned military facility who play in the former bunkers there. They told me about ghosts and strange sounds in the cellars, where the junta used to torture and murder its prisoners. Fort Borgoño, which belongs to the military base in Talcahuano, served as a torture camp between 1973 and 1975. But there are also reports that the Chilean secret service also tortured its imprisoned and abducted victims here from 1984 to 1985. Between 40 and 50 people were jailed in the complex; the prisoners were held captive in cement cells measuring six by two meters and containing one small window, usually in groups of eight. They were forced to sleep on the bare cement and were hardly fed. Their stay lasted between one and twelve days, during which they were brutally tortured. They were subsequently relocated to the island prison of Quiriquina Tome or released on parole after signing a document stating that they were not mistreated. Documents prove that political prisoners were systematically tortured here. The methods included waterboarding, electroshocks, beatings, death threats, rape, and severe physical and psychological abuse. The tortured were hung upside-down from trees, or tied to jeeps and dragged across a football field. One particularly in famous course was called the “rug.” Prisoners were tied up and forced to climb over obstacles blindfolded while being beaten. Puppies in Torture Chambers is a series of black and white photographs that depicts the children on their excursions through the cellars, where they also play with a litter of new-born puppies. In this series, I have sought to capture the ghostly aspect of the location with its many layers of past and present, innocence and brutality. Pablo Zuleta Zahr
Pablo Zuleta Zahr: Puppies in Torture Chambers, 1, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 2010 21 × 30 cm, Photo on Baryt paper. Courtesy of Pablo Zuleta Zahr
#RemembranceOblivionPhotography Éva Fisli
When speaking of remembrance or oblivion in the various languages of science, arts or everyday life, one tends to use tropes and metaphors. These figures of speech might be taken from any field in life; however, visuality as a source domain has a distinguished role in the understanding of remembrance. One identifies memories with pictures in phrases like a memory fading away, getting blurred or growing dim. Moreover, these images can be perceived as actual drawings, paintings or – for over a century and half now – photographs. Our metaphors always reflect the material world we live in. Consequently, the changes of our materials and instruments induce changes in our concepts too. Yet the opposition between visibility and invisibility is an essential feature in all these different, increasingly subtle metaphors of memory, independently of the particular technologies. For example, a memory rarely seen is lost in the haze of oblivion, shrouded in the mists of forgetting or obscured by time... In contrast, Kulik and Brown coined the term “flashbulb memory” in the 1970s, defining it as “a highly detailed, exceptionally vivid ‘snapshot’ of the moment and circumstances in which a piece of surprising and consequential (or emotionally arousing) news was heard”. Jonathan Hobin grasps this phenomenon of the iconic scene deeply imprinted in one’s mind due to the all-pervasive presence of media in his harrowing children’s room series, which depicts kids imitating social practices in their games not so innocent any longer. The realm of tropes is immensely rich in every language. Memories can be “visually perceptible signs” on the surface of something or small islands in the waving sea whereas oblivion might be seen as an overwhelming flood or a swallowing swamp – either way, it is an unrestrainable force that cannot be controlled by the individual. Jonathan Hobin: Twin Towers in the Children’s Room
Besides involuntarily remembering or inevitably forgetting things, one encounters numerous deliberate acts of remembrance or obliteration, too, in our culture. Sandra Vitaljić’s photograph reveals social interventions pointing beyond individual life, simultaneously alluding to the political will seeking to dominate remembrance and the permanent contest between various interests and visions of the past, as well as the ensuing deliberate obliteration and the inescapable failure of any totalitarian regime, which inevitably becomes outdated. I have been discussing the metaphors of memory that proliferate in human languages to call attention to the close relationship between ideas of visuality and oblivion. However, it is essential to see that any concept is ultimately – and independently of cognitive theories – down-to-earth, so whenever one speaks of memory one always says something of oblivion as well. But what does photography have to do with oblivion? Even when approached from the point of view of selection – asking who/what is or is not preserved in a photograph – it is easy to see the essential relationship between the two. Whatever is not recorded in a picture is doomed to be forgotten. It hardly exists. Besides, the bewilderingly diverse relationships between oblivion and photography can be explored from the points of view of A) the photographer B) the medium C) the user (spectator). One by one and together. Naturally. Artists. Surface and Face (mathesis singularis) Even in daguerreotypes, unknown relatives are known to have tried to obliterate certain faces from (usually) family portraits. Tell-tale traces of scratching, tearing, breaking or cutting also expose the personal and passionate dam- Sandra Vitaljić: The Site of Remembrance natio memoriae, which is often irreversible. Such surface damages testify to the intention of visual revenge and the obliteration of memories, while the artistic formation of the photograph as an object, the deliberate modification of its surface as a medium (its fading, impairment, weathering or corruption) reflects, rather, on time and evanescence. It is no accident that in analogue photography artists often create photographs of bodies, in response to the perishable material, doomed to be forgotten. Balázs Sprenc does just that in his series “Fade to Black. The Hungarian photographer used the last product of the Polaroid factory in the Netherlands, an instant film fully darkening within a day, to take pictures of elderly people, and proceeding to document the progressive aging of the pictures with the aid of a scanner. In “Oh Impermanence”, a series of portraits made by the Korean Seung Hwan, the microbes in the water gradually ingest the emulsion. Similarly, Mariann Rapi’s nude self-portraits on barite paper have been consumed by water, thus illustrating the transitory nature of both body and photo. In a similar vein, Marko Lipuš scratched his contemporary portraits to make them look older and fragile.
Subsequent concealment (such as retouching) can also be observed on the surface of many old photographs (or the pages of newspapers, often unnoticeably at first glance). However, the artistic use of concealment – frequently applied as the picture is being taken – in staged contemporary photographs reflects on the process of concealment itself. Concealment always has to do with power and it always deprives the viewer of the totality of the sight and the concealed face or object of its individuality and significance. Zsuzsa Darab covered giant billboards in a Budapest busy with the 2010 parliamentary elections in her project “Campaign” to emphasise the insignificance and the fast obsolescence of political slogans. A concealed face, a head covered with a paper bag or bodies under a black Marko Lipuš: Scratches TACTICS: Real Play Figures, 2011–2012 sheet in the photographs of Jean-Michel Fauquet give the impression of passive characters deprived of their personalities. Likewise, Gábor Gerhes’s man clad in a uniform and a mask – in accordance with the two codes of dominance – is a visually (doubly) marked oppressor and subordinate, a functional entity deprived of his personality: visible but invisible. At the time of developing her photos, Ágnes Eperjesi first wrote on the surface of the positives arranged in a composition under the title “Latency 1997–2013” the following two lines with fixing agent: “Unfortunately not. It would be nice”. Only then did she develop the photographs taken 15 years before but never fully processed. Now the letters are superimposed on the fixed surface, in other words, retrospective interpretation conceals the memory. Bibliography Working the surface in that way, the artist not only overwrites her perAntik, Sándor, Vizuális emsonal past, but also reassesses analogue photography, a medium widely lékezet és képi metaforák [Visual memory and image considered to be history and doomed to oblivion. metaphors], Kolozsvár: EgyeConcealment and overwriting are concepts applicable to certain protemi Műhely Kiadó–Bolyai Tárjects by Michael Wesely in New York and Jonathon Keats in Berlin as saság, 2008. well. The latter artist’s attempt at a one-hundred-year exposure necesBarthes, Roland, La Chambre Claire: Note sur la photograsarily keeps overwriting the spaces observed and recorded over an imphie, Paris: Gallimard, 1980. probably long period of time, by the end of which the person exposing Domonkosi, Ágnes. “Az emwill probably have met his demise too. lékezet metaforái a magyar Apparently against the odds of oblivion, over the span of seven years, nyelvben” [The metaphors of Gergely Barcza created a huge, illuminated QR code mosaic entitled memory in the Hungarian languae] in Publicationes Universi“Code”, by arbitrarily reconsidering and rearranging a previously distatis Miskolciensis, Sectio Philcarded family collection consisting of several hundred diapositives. osophica, Tomus XI, Fasciculus Using a reverse logic and different means, French-Ecuadorian artist 1, Miskolc: Miskolci Egyetemi Estefania Peñafiel Loaiza explores the controlled flashlight of attention Kiadó, 2006–2007. pp. 19–29. Todorov, Tzvetan, Les Abus de and the arbitrariness of our memories in her series of blown-up hands la mémoire, Paris: Arléa, 1998. of anonymous extras from daily papers and in her project figurants [extras] featuring figures in press photographs – anonymous and erased from the picture.
All of these artists – whether creators of archive projects or determined privateers destructing surfaces or transferring them to a different medium or frame, re-creating the photograph(s) – consider devastating oblivion to be a necessary evil, an essential part of life that can nevertheless be occasionally unveiled or outwitted. Yet oblivion is just as generous as it is horrifying and unavoidable. In contrast with the prolific and clichéd online then-and-now series of digital pictures, the works of Peter Macdiarmid WWI photographs display superimposed images of the once destroyed but reconstructed buildings that look “the same”. The destruction of the past is not visible to the naked eye in the present. In a composition of interacting layers, the continuous present constantly emerges from under the past. The fractures of the past have healed; the wounds of the surface are now scars. Only the throbbing of time cannot be appeased. Every photograph conceals another one. Translated by Katalin Szlukovényi
Gábor Gerhes: Neue Ordnung 1–10, 2013
divinie violence Broomberg & Chanarin Adam Broomberg, born 1970, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Oliver Chanarin, born 1971, in London, United Kingdom, live and work in London, United Kingdom | www.broombergchanarin.com
While researching their project War Primer 2, Broomberg & Chanarin visited the Bertolt Brecht archives in Berlin. There they discovered a remarkable artefact: Brecht’s personal bible. The object caught their attention because it had a photograph of a racing car stuck to the cover. Inside the pages they discovered that Brecht had used his bible as a notebook; pasting in images, underlining phrases and making notes in the columns. This was the inspiration for their illustrated Holy Bible. For this project, the artists have combined images taken from The Archive of Modern Conflict with phrases in the text, which they have underlined in red. The book also contains a short essay by Israeli philosopher Adi Ophir, who observes that God reveals himself predominantly through acts of catastrophe. Ophir considers the biblical text as a parable for the growth of modern governance. With this in mind, Broomberg & Chanarin explore the complex relationship between photography, catastrophe and state power. Authors: The Artists
Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin: Divine Violence, 2013, HahnemĂźhle print ÂŠAdam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin. Courtesy the Artists
Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, Divine Violence, 2013, Hahnemühle print © Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin. Courtesy the Artists
venues and partners
Athens Benaki Museum June – July 2015 HELLENIC CENTRE FOR PHOTOGRAPHY Manolis Moresopoulos | Director/Curator of the Athens Photo Festival Stavros Moresopoulos | President of the Hellenic Centre for Photography Marianna Vagena | Project Coordinator Berlin Martin-Gropius-Bau 17 October – 15 December 2014 KULTURPROJEKTE BERLIN GMBH Frank Wagner | Curator European Month of Photography Berlin & Curator MemoryLab Oliver Bätz | Project Manager European Month of Photography Berlin Charlotte Finke | Assistant European Month of Photography Berlin Gabriele Zöllner | Assistant European Month of Photography Berlin Bratislava Institut Français 3 November – 1 December 2014 CENTRAL EUROPEAN HOUSE OF PHOTOGRAPHY Vaclav Macek | Director European Month of Photography Bratislava Michaela Bosaková | Curator SEDF & Curator MemoryLab Bohunka Koklesová | Co-Curator of the MemoryLab Budapest Budapest Gallery (Budapest History Museum) 13 November – 31 December 2014 ASSOCIATION OF HUNGArian Photographers Zsolt Olaf Szamódy | President of Association of Hungarian Photographers Gabriella Uhl | CURATOR Hungarian Month of Photography & CURATOR MemoryLab Bea Marton, Corinna Mehl, Eszter Várnai assistants
Ljubljana Photon – Centre for Contemporary Photography 31 May − 30 June 2016 PHOTON – CENTRE FOR CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHY Miha Colner | Curator Photon & Curator MemoryLab Dejan Sluga | Director & Curator Photon / Curator MemoryLab Luxembourg Musée national d‘histoire et d‘art 23 April – 13 September 2015 Mudam (Musée d’art moderne Grand-Duc Jean) 7 March − 31 May 2015 Cercle Cité−Ratskeller 23 April − 31 May 2015 Casino Luxembourg Forum d’art contemporain 23 April − 6 September 2015 CAFÉ-CRÈME ASBL Paul di Felice & Pierre Stiwer: directors of the European Month of Photography Luxembourg; Curators of MemoryLab at MnHA, MUDAM, Casino Forum d’art contemporain, Cercle Cité Ratskeller PARIS MAISON EUROPÉENNE DE LA PHOTOGRAPHIE Jean-Luc Monterosso | Director European Month of Photography Paris Damien Lucas | Administrator Jean-Luc Soret | Curator Vienna MUSA Museum Startgalerie Artothek 28 October 2014 − 21 March 2015 EYES ON – MONTH OF PHOTOGRAPHY VIENNA Thomas Licek | Managing Director Michaela Obermair | Project Manager Katharina Roßboth | Assistant Project Manager DEPARTMENT FOR CULTURAL AFFAIRS OF THE CITY OF VIENNA Gunda Achleitner & Berthold Ecker
EXHIBITION PRESENTED THANKS TO THE SIGNIFICANT PATRONAGE OF Mr Milan Ftáčnik Mayor of Bratislava Mr Michael Häupl Mayor and Governor of Vienna Mrs Anne Hidalgo Mayor of Paris Mrs Lydie Polfer Mayor of Luxembourg Mr Klaus Wowereit Governing Mayor of the city of Berlin ARENDT & MEDERNACH European Month of Photography Arendt Award
Athens City of Athens Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports Benaki Museum Athens Photo Festival Hellenic Centre for Photography
APhF:15 HCP Athens Photo Festival
HELLENIC CENTRE FOR PHOTOGRAPHY
BERLIN City of Berlin Tim Renner State Secretary for Cultural Affairs Head of the Department for Cultural Affairs Gereon Sievernich Director Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin The presentation of the installation by Vera Frenkel has been made possible with the support of the Ryerson Image Centre, Toronto.
BRATISLAVA City of Bratislava Institut Français Bohunka Koklesová: curator of Month of Photography and curator of EMOP.
BUDAPEST Hungarian Academy of Art National Cultural Fund of Hungary OTP Bank
LJUBLJANA City of Ljubljana, Department for Culture / Ministry of Culture of Republic of Slovenia
LUXEMBOURG Café Crème asbl, Directors: Paul di Felice, Pierre Stiwer City of Luxembourg Lydie Polfer: City Mayor Christiane Sietzen: Chief executive of Cultural Affairs Anouk Wies: Coordinator Cercle Cité Jean Reitz: Director of Agence luxembourgeoise d’action culturelle Bob Krieps: Director of Cultural Affairs, Ministry of Culture Michel Polfer: Director Musée national d’histoire et d’art Gosia Nowara: chief curator Gilles Zeimet: project manager Enrico Lunghi: Director MUdAM Christoph Gallois, curator Kevin Muhlen: Art Director of Casino Luxembourg, Forum d’art contemporain Jo Kox: Director of Casino Luxembourg, Forum d’art contemporain
PARIS City Of Paris Mrs Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris Bruno Julliard, Deputy Mayor For Culture Patrick Klugman, Deputy Mayor In Charge of International Relations, European Affairs and French Language and Culture Abroad Christophe Girard: Mayor Of Paris’ 4th Arrondissement Department For Cultural Affairs Noël Corbin: Director Catherine Hubault: Director Of Patrimony And History
VIENNA City of Vienna Andreas Mailath-Pokorny Executive City Councillor for Cultural Affairs and Science Bernhard Denscher Head of the Department for Cultural Affairs of the City of Vienna Wien Kultur Eyes On – Month of Photography Vienna MUSA Museum Startgalerie Artothek Swedish Embassy SKICA
Published by EMoP asbl www.europeanmonthofphotography.com Managing Editor Gabriella Uhl Special thanks to Pierre Stiwer Language Editing Nicholas Bodoczky Graphic Design Zoltán Szmolka Printing and Binding Palatia Printing House, Győr (HU) Photographs © The artists unless otherwise stated Texts © The authors
Printed in Hungary, 2014 ISBN 978-99959-891-0-1 No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any other information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher.
Catalogue of the European Month of photography exhibition Memory Lab in Berlin, Budapest, Bratislava, Ljubljana, Luxembourg, Paris and Vienn...
Published on Oct 15, 2014
Catalogue of the European Month of photography exhibition Memory Lab in Berlin, Budapest, Bratislava, Ljubljana, Luxembourg, Paris and Vienn...