Triennial of Photography Hamburg earnings with the theme of Foreign currency

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The eighth release of the festival is described by Koyo Kuouh, that has created a space to discuss how the ubiquity of imagery is changing the way we think and behave

“I desired to explore how photography – historically, contemporarily and also prospectively – has shaped, is shaping, and will continue to form the way we perceive each other and the world, ” says Koyo Kouoh, the chief curator of the Zeitz Museum of recent Art Africa in Shawl Town. “Traditionally, humanity was defined by language plus objects. I think today humanity is defined by what all of us see, and what we notice is very much defined plus determined by photography and shifting image. ”

  Kouoh is the artistic director from the Triennial of Photography Hamburg’s eighth edition, which takes place this year from 20 May to 18 September. Spread across 12 exhibitions in 10 venues around the German town, the Triennial’s theme is Currency – a concept which, for Kouoh, expresses the contemporary ubiquity of images and their impact on existence. “The somewhat scary reality is that in the last 30 years we have produced as many images as in the entire span of humankind, ” she points out. “What does that mean? What does it mean that today the circulating of images is so fluid, and instant, and so extremely exposed to manipulation? This is a currency – a currency with regards to what we exchange, a trade not only in objects however in perception and emotions. ”

Sara Cwynar, Glass Life (Film-Still), 2021, Courtesy the artist, The particular Approach and Foxy Production, New York.

formafantasma, Cambio, 2020, Video still. Good manners: the
artist.

Every exhibition interprets the concept in different ways, drawing on an international community of curators and artists. Currency: Photography Beyond Capture , curated by Kouoh along with Rasha Salti, Gabriella Beckhurst Feijoo and Oluremi Chemical Onabanjo, goes on show on the Deichtorhallen Hamburg. The group tv show of 29 artists is a good sort of the phenomenon she details. Featuring works by Fazal Sheikh, Alfredo Jaar, Otobong Nkanga, Akinbode Akinbiyi, and Mame-Diarra Niang, among others, it looks at artistic explorations interrogating exactly how contemporary photography shapes functions of seeing and becoming seen. “We live in the retinal age, which quite strongly defines how we function and even changes our behaviors, ” says Kouoh.

Sheikh shares images from his series Wilderness Bloom, for example , part of his comprehensive study of Palestinian and Israeli life, published as a guide titled The Erasure Trilogy (Steidl, 2015). The dystopian aerial photographs bear experience to the many forces that have displaced and erased the particular Palestinian Bedouin people of the Negev desert. Mame-Diarra Niang, meanwhile, shows recent work that plays with the limits of photographic representation. “It’s writing the beginning of a new vocabulary in terms of focusing, ” says Kouoh of the work. “In terms of the idea of visibility plus invisibility, of photography past capture. ”

Herbert List, ‘Ghost of Lykkabettos #1’, Athen 1937, Münchner Stadtmuseum, Photography Collection, Archive List. Herbert Checklist Estate / Magnum Photos.

Herbert List, Underneath the temple of Poseidon, Sounion 1937, Münchner Stadtmuseum, Photography Collection,
Archive List. Herbert List Estate, Hamburg, Philippines.

Kouoh is also enthusiastic about the other exhibitions in the Triennial. Give and Take: Images Upon Images at the Hamburger Kunsthalle includes artists for example Sara Cwynar, Max Pinckers , Walid Raad, and Wolfgang Tillmans , in whose work explores how images can be reinterpreted over time. Demonstrating that the meaning assigned to images is fluid plus unstable, these artists suggest that photography is best understood when it comes to narrative, not ‘truth’.  

“The Triennial is a constellation associated with exhibitions and, as creative director, I developed the framework of thinking and looking that was taken over with the 10 producer institutions. ”

Koyo Kouoh, Artistic Director

“The Triennial is a constellation of exhibitions plus, as artistic director, We developed a framework associated with thinking and looking which was taken over by the 10 producer institutions, ” Kouoh clarifies. “ Give plus Tak e is one of the translations of the multiple interactions we’ve had about currency, and they’re looking at fiction and the idea of photography. Usually, people still believe that an image is a document of reality or the real; this exhibit turns that on its head by working with artists who have used the photographic picture as a manipulative, fictional type of material. ”

The Triennial also includes two exhibitions devoted to the late German photographer, Herbert List (1903–1975). The Magic Eye at the Bucerius Kunst Forum is a retrospective of his career, spanning surrealist works to extensive pictorial reports of non-European cultures and male nudes; Präuschers Panoptikum. A Photo Book simply by Herbert List at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg presents an earlier unseen photobook from the 1930s and 40s, titled Präuschers Panoptikum , as well as magazine articles and wax figures from the Vienna Wax Museum.  

‘Instructive View into the Ribcage’ 1944 © Herbert List Property. Hamburg Magnum Photos.

‘Man (which is his nickname)’, 2019, from the series South County, AL (a Hale County), 2012-present © RaMell Ross.

Images from Mächtigkeit. Mittel. Geld. Chris Schwagga, SHMH-MHG. (2)

“Pictures always contain different levels and readings which come to light at various times. ”

Esther Ruelfs, curator at Art gallery für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg

Both shows suggest that List’s images have been contextualised and recontextualised over the years. In doing so, they imply that our decryption of photography shifts, says Esther Ruelfs, the curator at Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg. A number of List’s nude images were published in the gay journal Der Kreis in 1949, for example , but when they were distributed in journals with a broader contemporary readership, they were framed with texts and other pictures, “in such a way that they could not be understood because gender ambiguous, ” Ruelfs comments. “I think pictures always contain different levels and readings that come to light at different occasions. ”

LaToya Ruby Frazier presents a solo display at the Kunstverein. Flint is Family, Take action III is the latest instalment of the girl work on the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan, which was caused by industrial plus governmental neglect. The Triennial describes Frazier’s documentary act as “politically forceful” rather than available to interpretation; in this case, says Nicholas Tammens, curator at Kunstverein, the idea of currency suggests the echoes her work might have beyond the Flint neighborhood.

“LaToya Ruby Frazier’s work amplifies the possibility of art in order to speak of a historical moment, ” Tammens says. “She does this by telling stories from contexts with particular issues that we could argue are universal in their themes – emancipation, equality, proper rights. Photography’s role in the girl work is to take part in that will process of representation. In terms of handling, we can ask how these types of themes, such as class battle, are present in our own context and lives as audiences. ”

‘Zion Doing Her Math Homework’ from
the International Academy of Flint (Est. 1999), Flint,
Michigan, 2016-2017 © LaToya Ruby Frazier. Courtesy of the performer and
Gladstone Gallery.

Other exhibitions include Strike! at the Museum der Traktat, a photographic history of labour struggles from the 1960s to now, and two displays devoted to 20th century musicians from Hamburg: fashion and advertising photographer Charlotte March, and architectural and road photographer Hans Meyer-Veden. PHOXXI, the temporary House of Photography, is presenting two exhibitions around collecting, one particular on the FC Gundlach private collection, the other considering Paris, france Photo as the ‘stock exchange’ of photography.  

Mächtigkeit Mittel Geld at the Art gallery für Hamburgische Geschichte, in the meantime, will literally look at foreign currency via the museum’s collection of cash that reflect colonial background; Archive of Experiences at the Museum am Rothenbaum: World Cultures and Arts will present a family album from 1868, a wealthy Hamburg merchant’s vision of Singapore. “It’s stunning because you see precisely the colonial case – the social hierarchies and everything that is not explicitly said, ” says Kouoh, who was born in Cameroon and is now based in South Africa. It’s another example of how photography could be recontextualised and therefore reconsidered and, as Kouoh points out, these exhibitions offer an opportunity to think about an otherwise overwhelming modern flow of images. “That’s why a photographic exhibit is helpful, ” she states. “It helps you to stop and see images in contexts that allow for reflection and enquiry, for drawing relationships, as well as for retrospective and even prospective pondering. ” 

Diane Smyth

Diane Smyth is a freelance journalist who plays a part in publications such as The Guardian, The particular Observer, The FT Weekend break Magazine, Creative Review, The particular Calvert Journal, Aperture, POLYURETHANE FOAM, IMA, Aesthetica and Apollo Magazine. Prior to going freelance, she wrote and edited with BJP for 15 many years. She has also curated displays for institutions such as The Photographers Gallery and Lianzhou Foto Festival. You can follow her on instagram @dismy

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