Duo- & Solo Exhibition
»Dancing through Times of Uncertainty«
+ »Updating a Family Album«
CHAUSSEE 36 Photo Foundation showcases two exhibitions for this year’s BERLIN PHOTO WEEK. The exhibitions were conceived parallel to one another, making room for dialogue between them. The first exhibition, »Dancing through Times of Uncertainty«, presents the works of Magnum photographer Inge Morath (1923-2002) and Johanna-Maria Fritz (*1994), recipient of the Inge Morath Award, to commemorate Magnum Photos’ 75th anniversary. »Updating a Family Album« is the second exhibition on view and it features the works of the acclaimed Iranian photographer Malekeh Nayiny (*1955).
»Dancing through Times of Uncertainty«
The photographs selected for this exhibition present a more complex perspective than the images we know from our news channels of countries such as Iran, Afghanistan and Palestine. Inge Morath and Johanna-Maria Fritz’s photograph performers – jugglers, clowns, musicians and dancers – in countries known for their political conflicts and difficult living conditions. Arts and entertainment meet a harsh reality. We see people mourning by a grave at a refugee camp. We also see armed soldiers surveilling the Gaza strip, yet a colourfully dressed clown on stilts looks back at them holding his juggling pins. Creativity and freedom of expression can also be found in harsh environments.
Inge Morath documented everyday life on the streets of numerous countries, particularly Iran, throughout her career as a photographer. Her subjects included musicians, dancers and other artists. The exhibition assembles some of the photographer’s iconic works as well as her lesser-known works. The photographs, most of which were taken in the 50s and 60s, carry a timeless aesthetic that is simultaneously gentle and energetic. Morath was one of the first female photographers to become a full member of Magnum Photos, second to Eve Arnold in 1955. She remained affiliated with the agency for over 50 years. Her photographs have been exhibited worldwide at a range of renowned institutions. Twenty years after her death it is time to honour her great chronicles of everyday life once more.
Johanna-Maria Fritz repeatedly meets people who are trying to build a life for themselves despite war and oppression: Her long-term project „Like a Bird” documented circus culture in Muslim countries. She recorded the artist’s quest to create a space of freedom for themselves and their audiences. One of Fritz’s younger subjects from Gaza describes feeling “like a bird” in the circus. According to Fritz „The circus is a place free of religion, nationality or skin colour – it is a refuge in times of uncertainty or conflict”. Her photographs attain a peculiar colouring that is simultaneously vibrant and nostalgic. They are somewhat detached from time and place- she captures moments, achieving masterful compositions and with them involves the viewer.
Fritz studied photography at the Ostkreuzschule for Photography in Berlin and has been a member of the Ostkreuz Agency since the beginning of 2019. She has been the recipient of many awards and accolades including the Lotto Brandenburg Prize, and the VG-Bild grant. In 2017 she was awarded the Inge Morath Award for her series „Like a Bird”, which can be seen in the exhibition.
The exhibition takes the viewer on a journey through different countries, and can – in the current socio-political climate – serve as a reminder: Art has the power to provide safe havens and encourage resilience in people during times of hardship.
»Updating a Family Album«
Parallel to »Dancing through Times of Uncertainty« will be on view Malekeh Nayiny’s best-known series »Updating a Family Album« (1997-2014).
Malekeh Nayiny is one of the most prominent Iranian photographers of our time. Nayiny left Iran to study but was unable to return home when the Iranian Revolution struck. She was finishing up her BFA at Syracuse University in New York when her family advised her to stay abroad. She enrolled in an Advanced Photography Course at the International Center of Photography and later continued her studies in Paris where she currently resides.
»Updating a Family Album« consists of digitally re-worked family photographs and is Malekeh Nayiny’s most well-known series of works to date. The original family photographs were taken before the Iranian Revolution (1979). The women in her family appear to wear voluminous hairstyles and are bare-legged. Nayiny integrates western landscapes, postal stamps, accessories, and colour into the images, a gesture that assimilates her own biography. Her experimental practice continuously refers to her present surroundings as they relate, or rather clash with, the history of her country. Her family history, memory, and personal insights are integral to her practice. Her works put forward an intimate insight into the disconnected cultural influences of her upbringing in and outside Iran.
»Updating a Family Album« romanticises a place that never was and provides an insider’s perspective on Iran which compliments the observations put forward in »Dancing through Times of Uncertainty«. While Morath and Fritz capture life and people in the countries they visit, Nayiny’s works reveal her and her family’s experiences as native Iranians.