Photovoice Foto-Projekt des Frauentreff Olga & Kathrin Tschirner
Opening: Friday, May 15, 2015, 7 pm
Exhibition: May 16 – June 7, 2015
Sat & Sun, 3 – 6 pm
The exhibition Kurfürstenstrasse is comprised of two overlapping sections – photographs and interviews produced by sexworkers in Berlin and the photography of Kathrin Tschirner, who worked with the women over the course of one year to facilitate and produce Kurfürstenstrasse.
Since 1885, the north of Schöneberg has continuously been one of the major prostitution areas in Berlin. In these 130 years, the area has changed dramatically, but the motives for the women remain the same in a unique way. What connects the contemporary sex workers with their colleagues of the past are the minimal resources that they have access to and the often critical view of the community around them. The label ‘prostitute’ is superficial and has negative connotations and the woman are often not seen as individuals. Political discussions exist away from the day to day reality of the women of Kurfürstenstrasse, are often far removed from their actual needs and fail to serve them as individuals from diverse backgrounds.
Olga, founded in 1984, is a counseling center for drug-dependent women and prostitutes in Berlin. In 2014 Olga began a Photovoice project with the cooperation and support of the photographer Kathrin Tschirner. Photovoice refers to a unique participatory method for people from marginalized groups to strengthen their resources and to allow both the participants and society a view of themselves and their world. With an analog camera, alone or with the staff of Olga or Kathrin Tschirner, the women took walks through the neighborhood, making photographs to tell their own stories. This result of the ten-month project are 24 photographs drawn from the lives and unique stories of 14 women that take the viewer on a journey through the ‘Kurfürstenkiez’.
Kathrin Tschirner photographed the same women and their surroundings during the one and a half years she volunteered at Olga and produced the book Kurfürstenstrasse as part of her Master’s thesis at the HAW Hamburg under professor Ute Mahler. The book is being shown publicly for the first time at this exhibition. The book is like a puzzle from the tales of sex workers, the coexistence of a heterogeneous environment and Tschirner’s experiences during this time. It is a non linear exploration of the women and their work environment, leaving many unanswered questions.