The Deichtorhallen – Haus der Photographie is a museum in Hamburg, Germany which I have been visiting relatively consistently for the last 4 years. The exhibition space is vast with large ceilings, skylights and enclosed spaces for film etc.
The exhibition which I just visited opened last Thursday (Mar 2 ’17). The exhibition named “Shifting Boundaries” is a collection of 12 photo essays under the “European Photo Exhibition Award” created by European students, under that key phrase. Thereby they cover a diverse area of subjects and styles.
Each photographic essay had its own style and form of presentation, each one varying greatly from the other. The themes covered ranged greatly from the border wall blocking the refugees entrance into the EU to the outskirts of Milan being extended.
Some of the photographers represented had won many an award such as the World Press Photo Award 2012. Thereby these aren't just students yet also established photographers, some of which have a vast amount of experience. In this post, I am going to look at probably my three favourites whether it was because of the subject covered or the way it was presented.
Marie Hald documented the daily life of young women in Malawa in Poland during their fight against anorexia and bulimia. Shot with an analogue camera she does not display a picture of suffering and helpless people but shows silent portraits. Marie Hald captures a struggle that a growing number of young girls are fighting against. Her pictures compel us to contemplate the shifting boundaries of our modern society.
A series showing women fighting deathly eating disorders. One expects the worst, shocking imagery; but that isn’t what Marie Hald showed the exhibition goer. They were normal people, laughing with friends, sitting in deck chairs, tanning with a vape. They were normal people having a good time, that is what was being presented the majority of the time, however only when one looked closer could one see how truly fragile they were. The shots were moving, while having the capability to bring a smile across the viewers face at certain photos.
Eivind H. Natvig – Today I am Human
The photo album with the inscriptions of the migrants gave a third dimension to the work, something actual which is sometimes hard to grasp in photographs. Even though these weren’t understandable for the majority of viewers (written in Arabic and not translated) it added a whole new dimension making the essay more personal as well. The portraits were taken directly out of the album with clear amounts of wear and tear. I aren’t sure whether I liked that part of the presentation, however probably I am also influenced by the fact that I enjoy a very clean and minimalist exhibit.
In his work “Today I am Human” Eivind H. Natvig documents the plight of Palestinians who fled from their country to Norway. Expelled from their villaghes in 1948 from the future State of Israel they reached Norway via Iraq as migrants without rights. Natvig combines protraits of these refugees with street photography from Israel and Palestinian regions. Furthermore he invited Palestinians who now live in Norway to write down their stories in Arabic which he has incorporated in his body of work. As carrier material he used an old photo album with tissue paper inlays from Israel dated in the 1950ies.
The series wasn’t hard-hitting nor did it contain shocking footage. The images are minimalist, subtle and clean. The barbed wire weaving through the trees, a line of army trucks one after the next on an otherwise empty carpark. Porta potties alone in a field. The images convey the loss and pain that is caused by this new wall, yet without the shock and pain factor of some photojournalism.
Following the unprecedented high number of migrants arriving in Europe in the summer of 2015 Hungary’s government met the radical decision to linit the flow of illegal immigration tby putting up a four meter high barbed wire fence along the borders to Serbia and Croatia. 25 years after its fall a new “Iron Curtain” is emerging in Europe. In Borders the Hungarian photographer Ildikó Peter attends to the current situation of Europe and the future of the European idea.