Tähtitorninvuoren puisto 2020
We’re proud to show various artworks of the following artists in this exhibition: Christian Bobst, SwitzerlandThe Sufi Brotherhoods of Senegal In
We’re proud to show various artworks of the following artists in this exhibition:
Christian Bobst, Switzerland
The Sufi Brotherhoods of Senegal
In Senegal, 95 percent of Muslims belong to a Sufi Brotherhood, more than in any other Muslim population in the world. For Sufis, peace and tolerance are important values, spirituality and closeness to God are more important than dogmas and strict adherence to religious rules. Senegal has never experienced an attack in this age of international terror in contrast to its neighbouring countries such as Mali or Mauritania. The West African country is regarded as an anchor of stability. This has a lot to do with the trust of the Senegalese people in their religion and their spiritual leaders. When tribal leaders called for the raising of arms against the French, during colonial times, Cheikh Amadou Bamba Mbacke (1853 – 1928), the founder of the Sufi Brotherhood of the Mourids, taught his numerous followers that the true Jihad is not war by force of arms, but the fight against inner demons. Even today, most Senegalese are fervent supporters of Bamba’s pacifist teachings. The Senegalese engage in a strong personality cult around the founders of their four largest Sufi-brotherhoods and their descendents. While saints are a taboo in most Islamic countries, the names and portraits of the founding fathers of the Sufi brotherhoods can be found on the lettering of colourfully painted buses, as posters in shopping centres and textile factories, on almost all taxis. Although Senegal has a secular form of government, Islam is much more than a religion in the country. It is a lifestyle that permeates the entire society. The Sufi Brotherhoods of Senegal photo essay shows how the Sufi Brotherhoods and their religious leaders shape Senegalese society and how they maintain power and wealth, but also peace and stability in the country by relying on a tolerant form of Islam instead of dogmatic rules and oppression.
Christian Bobst (b. 1971, Switzerland) originally studied graphic design. For almost 15 years he worked for major advertising agencies in Switzerland and Germany. In 2010 he started working as a freelance documentary photographer. Since then he has produced numerous photo reports and assignments in Europe, Africa, Asia, North and South America. His work has been published in magazines, daily newspapers and online media such as GEO, Stern, The Guardian, National Geographic, Die Zeit, NZZ, LensCulture and 6mois. Christian has won numerous international and national photo awards. In 2016, he won the 2nd prize of the World Press Photo Award in the Sport Stories category, in 2020 he was awarded at the POYi, in 2017 at the NPPA as well as with the vfg Swiss Photo Award and the photo prize of the canton of Solothurn and many more. Christian Bobst lives in Zurich and is a member of the photo agency laif in Germany.
Alex McBride, United Kingdom
South Sudan: The Road to Peace
Independence freed Sudan from Anglo-Egyptian rule in 1956, and it was a yearning for independence that spurred 50 years of civil war between the north and south of the country soon after. Then in 2011 this same yearning gave birth to the world’s youngest nation, South Sudan. It wasn’t long, however before the infant country descended into a civil war of its own in 2013. Ethnic tensions between the ruling government’s Dinka tribe and the opposition’s Nuer boiled over into bloodshed, which, by the time a ceasefire agreement was hashed out in 2018, had left some 400,000 dead, and millions more displaced from their homes. In February of this year the two sides formed a unified government, with President Salva Kiir now having appointed his civil war rival Riek Machar as his First Vice President. The armies which they lead against one another are to be united as one national army. The tribes they represent which inflicted unspeakable atrocities upon one another in wartime are now to form the society slated to join hands in building a sovereign state together. With a history steeped in rivalry, the odds are stacked against the young nation, and so it is trust that lies at the heart of whether a country can rise out of the ashes of its past or regress once again into flames. Having been taken since the signing of the revitalised peace agreement between the government and rebel opposition in 2018, these photographs map out South Sudan’s tight-rope walk to a new peace, and a people’s unwavering determination to attain the freedom that they envisioned in the formation of a new state: A dream first conceived some 60 years ago.
Alex McBride is a freelance photographer covering political, social and humanitarian issues in East Africa. He is currently based in Juba, South Sudan.
Gloria Oyarzabal, Spain
Woman Go No’Gree
Empires, by nature, embody and institutionalize difference, both between metropolis/ colony and colonial subjects. Imperial imaginary floods popular culture. Gender categories were a kind of bio-logic “new tradition” that colonialism institutionalized in Yoruba, Igbo and many African cultures. Infantilization of women as part of the Western patriarchal system was also exported with the colonization of the mind, configuring a state of vulnerability, facilitating dependency. In 1987, more than a decade before queer theory, Nigerian writer Ifi Amadiume wrote Male Daughters, Female Husbands, freeing the subject position of “husband” from its affiliation with men, dislocating sex, gender and sexual orientation. Can a daughter be considered a son? Can a woman take another as a wife, openly complying with the requirements marriage tradition imposes on the groom?
At a time when gender and queer theory are partialy stuck in an identity-politics rut, these theories warn against the danger of projecting a very specific, Western notion of difference onto other cultures and questions the concept of gender itself. Oyèrónkẹ Oyěwùmí, another Nigerian feminist writer (The Invention of Women: Making an African Sense of Western Gender Discourses) attributes the biologizing of difference to the primacy of vision in European intellectuality, basing its hierarchies on binary distinctions: Male/ female, white/ black, homosexual/ heterosexual. Stereotypes are anti-truth. Beauty norms are often measured with Eurocentric values, white beauty narratives and ideals of beauty (thinnes, youth) that are strongly racialized. Whiteness is reinforced as the norm, “otherness” becomes something fetish and “exotic”. Erotic, sisterhood, motherhood, marriage, tradition, domestication… all these aspects, with their own lights and shades in each society, should come out on the same level in order to compare. Can we assume social relations in all societies are organized around biological sexual difference? Beauty canon, modernity, stereotypes… and can we decolonize feminism questioning the Eurocentric gender categories in a universalistic and trustable manner?
Gloria Oyarzabal is a Spanish artist photographer with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from UCM (1998), who diversifies her professional activity between photography, cinema and teaching. She is co-founder and programmer of the Independent Cinema La Enana Marrón (The Brown Dwarf) in Madrid (1999-2009), which was dedicated to the diffusion of author, experimental and alternative cinema. Oyarzabal graduated in Conservation and Restoration of Art in 1993. She lived in Bamako, Mali for three years, developing her interest in the construction of the Idea of Africa, History of colonization-decolonization, new tactics of colonialism and African feminisms (2009-2012). After her Master’s degree in Creation & Development of Photographic Projects at Blankpaper School of Photography (2014-15) her work has been shown at Organ Vida (Zagreb, HR ), Format (Derby, UK), Fotofestiwal (Lodz, PL), Athens Photo (GR), Lagos Photo (NG), PHE PhotoEspaña (ES), Thessaloniki Photo Museum (GR), Bitume Festival Lecce (IT), Encontros da Imagem Braga (PT), Odessa Foto (UA), Kaunas Foto (LT), among many others. In 2017 Oyarzabal was selected for the artistic residency Ranchito Matadero Nigeria-South Africa, where she developed her latest project about African feminisms in Madrid and Lagos (NG). That same year she won the Landskrona Dummy Award, which allowed her to publish her first photobook, Picnos Tshombé. In 2018 she was the winner of the Encontros da Imagem Discovery Award, the Community of Madrid Grant and got a PHmuseum 2nd Honorable Mention. In 2019 she won the Images Vevey Dummy Award, the PHOTO IS:RAEL (IL) Meitar Award for Excellence in Photography, the PHOTOMED PRIZE and the FOTOFESTIWAL GRAND PRIX (Lodz, PL).
Teodelina Detry, Argentina
“Trust forms the basis for any relationship. It is something we need to exercise and develop since we are born. Our first learnings come from our parents or loving references. And the success in this learning will provide us with the necessary grounds so as to be able to trust in ourselves first and in others after. Trust others after. And last but not least, we definitely have to learn to trust life! Understanding that it is beautiful but full of unexpected bumps. It will make us feel safe, confident and consequently have more possibilities of blossoming.” Detry
Teodelina Detry was born in Buenos Aires in 1975. She studied Art Direction at the Escuela Superior de Creativos Publicitarios. During 1997 she lived in NYC and took several art-related courses at Parsons School of Design. Since then, as a visual artist, she has dedicated herself to painting and photography. In 2001 she studied at Andy Goldstein’s School of Photography in Buenos Aires. While living in Geneva, Switzerland (2013-2016), she continued studying with Aline Kundig and Athena Carey and back in 2017 she studied painting with Inés Miguens, Santiago Carrera and Juan Astica. In the USA and France Teodelina took workshops with the French photographer Alain Laboile. In 2017, 2018 and 2019 she exhibited her work with Inés Miguens in collective exhibitions at the Tattersall de Palermo in BA. In September 2019 she exhibited her work with Zona de Photo at BA Photo Fair and October-November 2019 at Mundo Nuevo Art Gallery. Recently, Theodelina published her first photography book titled La Anémona es la flor que se abre al menor golpe de viento (The Anemone is a Flower That Opens Herself to the Slightest Touch of Wind). The photobook was presented to the public on March 7th 2020 at Fundación ArtexArte in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The artist is currently participating in a two-year photography clinic programme at Proyecto Imaginario.
Dorota Stolarska, Poland
It’s Always Summer There and Nothing Changes
As far as Dorota can remember, her grandparents lived in the same flat and for all those years, nothing changed there. Even many years after they both passed away, the flat remained the same. The same furniture, curtains, and souvenirs. Although the artist has never lived there herself, the flat became for her a symbol of her inviolable and strong relationship with her family, part of her identity. In 2019, the flat was renovated and put up for sale and for Dorota it felt like she was losing part of herself. After the renovation nothing looked the same, it was just an empty space with white walls and no history in it. In this empty flat with only a few pieces of furniture left, Dorota decided to train her memory by recalling her childhood plays. Starting with hide-and-seek, through recreating the artist’s fascination with chair and armchair constructions, she ended up changing into her grandma’s clothes. Dorota devoted a lot of attention to all personal properties that belonged to her grandparents, trying to place them in their original positions. While browsing through their souvenirs (souvenirs brought from exotic countries, such as letters sent from the furthest corners of the world, modern furniture) the artist realized that she had never asked about her grandparents’ background. Also, she has never wondered why the flat is situated downtown among the embassy and government departments. As a child, Dorota was unaware that this was not very typical for Polish houses but as she grew older, she learnt that it was due to her grandfather‘s involvement with the communist party. It was not a secret but nobody, even her grandmother, knew what was his part in it. The artist soon realized that the history of her family was built on secrets. Among these white walls, she felt uncertainty and lost trust in her memory. She couldn’t recreate the past from the pieces in the same way they were before. That is why the photographer decided to utilize all of her grandparents’ belongings and created something new, surreal sculptures and situations.
The photographer Dorota Stolarska (b. 1986) was born in Warsaw, Poland. She holds a graduate degree in Cultural Studies from the University of Warsaw and Photography from the University of Arts in Poznań. She also holds a Ph.D. (cand.) in Fine Arts from the Academy of Fine Arts in Łódź. She is a graduate of the seventh edition of the Migawki project (2015) organized by the Association of Creative Initiatives “ę”. Dorota draws her artistic inspiration predominantly from versatile sights of her homeland, Poland and the country’s vastly changing landscapes juxtaposed with its harsh history. In her works, she uses various media. Her photography works and photobooks have been shown at exhibitions in Poland and abroad.
Ami Vitale, United States
The Guardian Warriors
Ami Vitale began The Guardian Warriors project ten years ago, after she heard about a plan to airlift four of the world’s last northern white rhinos from a zoo in the Czech Republic to Kenya. It was a desperate, last-ditch effort to save a species. At the time, there were only eight of these rhinos left, all living in captivity. When the artist saw this gentle, hulking creature in the Czech snow, surrounded by smokestacks and humanity, it seemed so unfair. It looked ancient, part of a species that has lived on this planet for millions of years, yet could not survive humanity.
We are witnessing extinction right now, on our watch. Poaching is not slowing down. If the current trajectory of killing continues, it’s entirely possible that rhinos will be functionally extinct in our lifetime. Without rhinos and elephants and other wildlife we suffer more than loss of ecosystem health. We suffer a loss of imagination, a loss of wonder, a loss of beautiful possibilities. When we see ourselves as part of nature, we understand that saving nature is really about saving ourselves. Sudan taught Ami that. These are a series of images about the relationships and bonds between humans and endangered species. They understand how important TRUST is for a healthy planet and not just with one another, but with the creatures we coexist with. We must begin to see our world as part of the natural world; the natural world as part of our world. Our fates are linked. Losing one part of nature, is a loss for all of nature.
Ami Vitale’s journeys as a photographer, writer and filmmaker have taken her to over 100 countries where she has witnessed civil unrest and violence, but also surreal beauty and the enduring power of the human spirit. She has lived in mud huts and war zones, contracted malaria, and donned a panda suit—all in keeping with her philosophy of “living the story.” Ami is an Ambassador for Nikon and a contract photographer with National Geographic magazine. She has documented wildlife and poaching in Africa, covered human-wildlife conflict, and concentrated on efforts to save the northern white rhino and reintroduce pandas to the wild. She has been named Magazine photographer of the year in the International Photographer of the Year prize, received the Daniel Pearl Award for Outstanding Reporting and named Magazine Photographer of the Year by the National Press Photographers Association, among others. She is a five-time recipient of World Press Photos. She recently published a best-selling book titled Panda Love, on the secret lives of pandas. Vitale was the subject of the Mission Cover Shot series on the National Geographic Channel as well as another documentary series featuring Madagascar, Over the Islands of Africa. She lectures for the National Geographic LIVE series, and she frequently gives workshops throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia.
Dilla Djalil Daniel, Indonesia
The Trust of the Matter
The Friends of the Asian Elephant Hospital (FAE), where the images of The Trust of the Matter were shot, is the first elephant hospital in the world. It is dedicated solely to the care of these giant, yet sensitive and emotional mammals. The hospital was founded in 1993 by a Thai woman called Soraida Salwala. It is located in the Mae Yao National Reserve in Lampang, 75 km outside Chiang Mai, Thailand. The FAE is a non-governmental organisation that gives free care to sick elephants as well as provides free room and board for the mahouts (elephant caretakers), so they can stay on location during the hospital treatment. All of the domestic elephants in this hospital have either been abused, are sick, injured, or expecting elephants, about to have calves. Many of these elephants belong to elephant tourism camps, which are dotted around the vicinity of Chiang Mai. Most of the elephant patients stay in the hospital temporarily, however, there are five resident elephants that have been living there right from the beginning.
Three of them are permanently injured landmine victims, two of which, Motala and Mosha, have each had one of their legs amputated below the knee. Nonetheless, they are quite fortunate, as in 2008 Mosha had her first bespoke prosthetic leg especially crafted and designed for her. She is the first elephant in the word to wear a prosthetic leg. As for Motala, she got her first one in 2009. From time to time Motala and Mosha walk around the compound on their prosthetic limbs. It took years for the vets and paramedics to rehabilitate them and the recovery has been a long journey, involving constant treatment, patience and loving care. Each of these five permanent resident elephants has suffered their own traumatic experiences, as they were not only injured physically, but were also mentally broken. It takes great patience and dedication from the vets, mahouts and hospital staff to gradually build the mutual trust and bond with these gigantic mammals on their long road to rehabilitation.
Dilla Djalil Daniel (b. 1966) is a Jakarta based documentary photographer. Her first introduction to the camera was when her father gave her a boxy Kodak camera for her 9th birthday. Ever since then she has been something of a shutterbug. Dilla obtained her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Indonesia, majoring in English Literature. Dilla’s first photography mentor was her late father, and for many years she shot her objects intuitively, relying on her feelings, sensitivity and a good eye. In 2010 she decided to join a photojournalism workshop in Bangkok. She finally found the genre that suits her the most, which is storytelling by using her camera. One workshop inevitably leads to another, and she found herself attending more and more documentary and photojournalism workshops.
Dilla is an alumnus of the Foundry Photojournalism workshop, the Momenta Documentary workshop and the Obscura Workshop. These overseas workshops also suited her well, as she loves adventurous travelling. In the course of these workshops, she has been fortunate to have had an impressive list of various award-winning photojournalists as her mentors. For Dilla, photography is the medium that enables her to express her feelings. It is an art form that sees the camera as a brush and light as paint, and the intent is always to narrate a story. It is her wish to carry on telling stories through her pictures, the stories she feels like telling, for as long as she can.
Nadja Hallström, Sweden
The Last Wild Horses
The horse is a universal symbol of freedom. While the majority of Americans value wild horses and want to see them preserved and protected, the Bureau of Land Management who is in charge of all public land, plans to eradicate wild horses and continues to allow intensive commercial livestock grazing on public lands. Chasing such a strong symbol of freedom because of profitable interest becomes a reminder of the distance between reaching the dream of freedom (how it once looked) and the cynicism that often characterises people’s view on nature today. What happens when we fail to protect the wild animals, when we tame nature into an obedient tool? The hunt for the last wild horses is a prey on a threatened species, like so many before. But also a predatory act on man’s dream of being able to live with the wild, to be in harmony with nature instead of being its superior.
The pictures featured in the series The Last Wild Horses were taken at a Wild Horse Rescue Center in the US. At the center, people are working to rehabilitate wild horses and teaching them to trust people. In her images, Hallström depicts the people who are rehabilitating these wild horses and who are fighting for their survival. A friend of hers, Diane Delano, started the nonprofit Wild Horse Rescue Center in Florida about 20 years ago. Since then, she and her volunteers have saved hundreds of horses, including also other animals. Once a wild horse has been captured by the Bureau of Land Management, it is illegal to release them into the wild again. Diane’s goal is to rehabilitate and tame these horses so that they will be able to trust people and get new loving homes. Diane is currently taking care of 47 horses. Her home is a fantastic place and the animals thrive there. The photographer also visited South Dakota, Utah and Colorado to meet other amazing people who are working in this field. Majority of photographs featured in The Last Wild Horses were taken in 2019.
Nadja Hallström (b. 1980) focuses primarily on the artistic expression within photography. Her work spans within the fields of wild horses, portraits and personal projects. Hallström grew up in Stockholm within the family of a rich art tradition. She works as a freelance photographer and is widely assigned by different book companies, film companies and magazines. Hallström has lived and worked in Stockholm, Berlin, New York and in Greece. She has received grants from The Swedish Art Committee (2018), The Swedish Journalist Organization (2018), The Film base (2017), Helge Ax:son Johnsons (2016), Längmanska Culture Fund (2012) and Helge Ax:son Johnsons (2009).
Furthermore she has been involved in the following books: Personligt: samtal med fritänkare (portraits of Georg Klien, Stellan Skargård, Lena Andersson, Sara Mohammad, Christer Fuglesang, Eva Dahlgren, among others) and En röd stuga med en halvmåne på gave’ (portraits of Jessika Gedin, Sverker Sörlin, Paulina Neuding and Heide Avellan). Hallström has exhibited in solo shows at Eyubi Stockholm (2007), Elverket Stockholm (2008), Neg Pos Frankrike (2009), and in group shows at Planket Stockholm (2007), Mois off de la Photo Paris (2008), M&C Saatchi London (2008), Centre for Photography Stockholm (2009), Moderna Museet Stockholm (2009), the Swedish Embassy Berlin (2010), Planket Stockholm (2011), Planket Berlin (2011), Väsby Konsthall (2011), The Vanderbilt Republic Gowanus Loft New York (2012), Planket Stockholm (2013) and Gallery Kontrast (2014).
Eric Hanson, United States
Liberal Gun Owners
Do you trust these people? You don’t know them, but they all are photographed holding guns, and that may give you an immediate feeling about them. Some might trust these people more because they appear strong, confident, and competent holding their firearms. They can protect themselves and their families. Many others might immediately distrust them. Guns symbolize a sort of rugged individualism and portend violence. Some might even feel like a person with a gun is unhinged, unable to be trusted at all. Would it change your opinion if you knew their political affiliations? While most think of gun owners as right-leaning, each of the people depicted in these photographs identifies as a liberal and they come from many different backgrounds and experiences. They include a transgender couple who live in a conservative state, an immigrant from Russia who views training with firearms as a martial art, a son of Mexican immigrants who believes minorities should arm themselves for protection because the police often can’t or won’t protect them, a funeral director who sees death every day but chooses to have firearms to protect his family, and a teacher who owns guns because he finds shooting meditative and relaxing.
These photographs force viewers to confront how their own perceptions and stereotypes influence how they trust another person in the first instance. A viewer’s initial instinct about whether they would trust or not trust these people is based solely on their perception of how the subjects look and the object they are holding. As we become a more polarized and distant society, it’s important that we think about trusting each other based on lived experiences rather than fleeting perceptions.
Eric Hanson was born by the beach and lives on the hill in Los Angeles. Growing up, Hanson’s father dragged him to galleries and museums around the city. Hanson didn’t take the hint and trained as a lawyer, working for more than a decade as a patent litigator. Mid-career he realized he had taken a wrong turn and began focusing on an art and photography practice.
Laura Bisgaard Krogh & Andreas Haubjerg, Denmark
A Question of Honour
On a deserted road in Jutland, Denmark stands a house with an unknown address. The authorities call the residence a “Safehouse”, even though it mostly looks like an ordinary home. It is a secure residence, with surveillance cameras and tinted windows in the kitchen that faces the court. All of this has the purpose to protect a group of teenage girls who have been living in the shadow of their family that has exposed them to threats, violence and suppression. The girls live here because of honour-related conflicts. They were not familiar with this concept before fleeing their families and moving into Safehouse Jylland. But they do know how it feels. The authorities define it as conflicts that occur within close family relations and where the conflicts result from the perception that the honour of the family has been violated. The girls in these families are at risk of forced marriage or abusive punishment in the form of incarceration in the home or physical violence. In the most extreme cases they can be in danger of honour killing. The honour-related girls are torn between the fear of negative social control at home and the love for their family. At Safehouse Jylland they endeavour to create an identity of their own and to live a fairly ordinary teenage life. All girls in this series are anonymous for safety reasons.
How this story relates to trust: The people you trust the most in your life are often your family. For the girls in this story that trust has been violated and taken away from them. This story is about regaining trust in yourself. When you are at the center of an honour-related conflict, the fundamental trust in your family, in yourself, and the world around you has been broken down. “In the safe houses we have experienced firsthand that the girls can rebuild the trust in themselves and reclaim ownership of their own destiny. We are honoured and proud that the girls have shown us their story. As photographers this is the greatest trust you can receive.” Laura Bisgaard Krogh & Andreas Haubjerg
Laura Bisgaard Krogh and Andreas Haubjerg are Danish photojournalists based in Aarhus and Copenhagen, Denmark. They are currently doing their BA in Photojournalism at the Danish School of Media and Journalism. Through in-depth visual storytelling they create personal stories on issues regarding human rights and living conditions, with a focus on youth and identity. Their collaborative work shows a personal and rare view into the lives of at-risk children. Working with integrity, they have a strong code of ethics that protects the children in their stories. Together they have created a personal visual language that shows the identity of their subjects. “Laura Bisgaard Krogh and Andreas Haubjerg chose the exact right balance between melancholy and poetry, that gives us very emotional pictures and respect for the photographed, so that they don’t come across as victims. Respect is, all things considered, the keyword. Here you acknowledge and see a group of people, whose identity you have to hide at the same time. So even though the pictures are anonymous, we still feel them a lot, because they are not photographed, but felt.” (Statement from jury members of the Danish Picture of the Year, 2019)
Elizabeth M Sanders, United States
Be Here To Love Me
The photo project Be Here to Love Me focuses on Elizabeth father’s struggle with dementia, and the long-troubled relationship between her mom and herself, that has shifted into something more beautiful, each year that Elizabeth’s father remembered less.
The shared sadness that the family carries in loving him has brought about a major transformation. Through photography, they have become allies. Elizabeth’s mother has become both her collaborator and assistant as she photographs, holding the reflector, or coaching her dad as she takes his portrait. He is no longer able to tell stories, and it is through the image that the artist is searching for him, turning to fiction to fill in the holes of his life with her own imagined or altered memories. How else do you locate the personhood of someone who is no longer the person you knew? Through this project, Elizabeth has come to understand the value of process and what the making of an image can do for those in it. The image becomes a talisman that holds the power of their familial exchange. The image is a way to heal.
Liz is a documentary photographer based in Brooklyn, New York, and a graduate of the Documentary Practice and Visual Journalism Program at the International Center for Photography. Liz’s photographic practice focuses on the intersection of tradition and modernity and how that affects individual and collective identities, especially within communities experiencing change. Having grown up an only child to older parents and having very little extended family, Liz has an interest in large family dynamics and intimate family relations. Most recently, Liz has been photographing her own small family, during her aging father’s struggle with dementia, and the complexities of the mother-daughter bond as they re-frame their parent-child relationship and imagine a life without him.
Gordon Spooner, France
“It is not impermanence that makes us suffer. What makes us suffer is wanting things to be permanent when they are not.” Thich Nhat Hanh
Why are we told to believe stability is desirable? History has proved that everything is temporary. The only thing which has proved permanent is, in fact, instability. Why not accept and embrace instability? The series LetGo is an ode to that uncertainty, to the moment where we leave our comfort zone. The moment in which forward is the only way possible. The moment we decide to put our faith in the future.
Gordon Spooner’s earliest photo album is from when he was around 10 years old portraying holiday snaps in black and white, taken with a Kodak Instamatic. Places he had been, the pet tortoise and steam trains. He learned to develop black and white film aged around 16 years old. Gordon’s parents didn’t consider photography to be a “proper job” so the artist decided to study cartography in London instead. Spooner claims to have watched European movies alone at the Essential on Wardour Street, where he discovered Nicolas Roeg, Luis Buñuel and French cinema. Early into his studies, Gordon realised that cartography wasn’t going to keep him interested for very long which led him to apply for work at the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Spooner wanted to make movies that had inspired him and quickly learned cinematography in Paris. He continued taking photographs of models for their portfolios, however, modelling agencies thought his pictures weren’t happy enough, so he switched to taking portraits of his friends instead. The thread in everything Spooner has ever done is the suggestion of a narrative. He wants his photographs to resemble the movies that marked him. The photos that impressed him are hidden in the fabric of the hundreds of films he has shot: “Films have influenced my photography; my photography influenced the way I shoot films. I’m interested in a present, a moment, that suggests a before and an after, that forces the viewer to invent the story that the image belongs to… Sometimes I want to put subtitles on my photographs.” Spooner
Anna Ellen Hamlet, Sweden
Through Your Eyes I See Universe
Their eyes meet as they are sitting opposite each other for twenty minutes, looking into the eyes of one another, meditating together in silence. The boundary between them is erased. The large format camera is next to Anna Ellen Hamlet, to the left, and sometimes during the meditation she takes a polaroid, but the person portrayed is unaware of when. There is a mutual trust between them. An attempt to capture what is behind the mask of mankind. A need to understand the greater picture. The portrayed live and work at Yandara Yoga Institute in Mexico. They work as yoga teachers, reiki masters, astrologers, musicians etc. This project is photographed during the winters of 2017 and 2018 and collectively includes 23 portraits. Together with the portraits there is a number of guided meditations, mantras and music that has been recorded with the participants. Hamlet has arranged to return to Mexico next winter in order to photograph the characteristic landscape surrounding Yandara. She says it to be a magical place where the dry desert with the gigantic cacti meets the vast beaches of the Pacific Ocean. It is her plan to make a book out of the combination of the portrait and landscape photographs together with the sounds of mantras and meditation.
Anna Ellen Hamlet graduated from Gothenburg Photography School in June 2016. Alongside with photography, she works as a part-time nurse. Hamlet’s pictures are an experiment with the photographic image of mankind and what it means to be alive. “With my photographs, I explore our innermost, myself through others and others through myself. The search for what’s behind the mask.” Hamlet
Shirin Abedi, Iran/Germany
May I Have This Dance?
In a long red dress, with a small crown in her hair, Mojdeh dances in front of a red curtain in the cheer of a female audience in Tehran, Iran. Mojdeh (21), Reyhaneh (22), Nona (18) and Yasamin (22) belong to the same ballet group in Tehran. They are part of the Iranian post-war generation, which stands up for self-determination, freedom and equality. In 1958 the Iranian National Ballet Company was established and produced over 50 shows until the revolution. According to the Iranian law, immorality and fornication result from sensual dance, which is why in 1979 all dance facilities were dissolved and dance was banned from the Iranian public. Nevertheless, more and more Iranians are dancing today and try to make it their profession. The ballerina Pardis formed a ballet group with Nima, a contemporary dancer in 2008, which ten years later performed for the first time after the revolution with both women and men on Tehran‘s most famous stage. Having said that, the group is struggling with reprisals: Already approved plays are being cancelled, the light is turned off during performances and too much public attention, for instance via Instagram, may result in the arrest of participating artists. Whereas during the revolution the abolition of ballet symbolized independence from the West, today dance stands for the longing of a generation for Western freedom. This story is about the social change in Iran on the basis of a subculture, in which dance is elementary to life. These dancers put trust in their ability and strength to fulfil their dreams, despite the disadvantageous circumstances they face. The dancers represent a whole generation that reclaims its desired future.
Born 1996 in Tehran, Shirin Abedi migrated to Germany at the age of seven. Since then, she has lived a parallel existence between two cultures. Her interest in Photojournalism grew during her early teenage years and got more visible after she took her first class in photography in 2011. In 2016 she moved to Tehran for a year, in order to better understand her country of origin. Back in Hannover, Germany, she continues learning and exploring. She is mostly interested in topics around women‘s issues, identity as well as everyday heroes and their battles.
Oskar Alvarado, Spain
Where Fireflies Unfold
“The majority of those born in the cities resulting from rural emigration in the 60s and 70s have a common place that unites us: Our parents’ village. Deleitosa is my village. It is located in the province of Cáceres, in the region of Extremadura in Spain. Here my parents, grandparents, great grandparents and other ancestors were, going back through centuries of family genealogy.” Alvarado
Deleitosa was the village in which Eugene Smith chose to realize his photographic essay Spanish Village that was published in the American magazine Life on April 9, 1951. Far from showing the perceptible appearance of Deleitosa or some of the visual references linked to what was a photographic icon of the social and economic backwardness in Spanish rural society, the author’s gaze had some subjective nuances linked to a series of experiences, places and memories. Reminiscences that have endured as apparitions in his memory. Images that intermingle episodes that float in the collective imagination with the new realities that coexist in the village. There is an emotional need to trust in the evolution of the territory of which we are part. To explore our identity in the echo of the places that still speak to us or in the absence-presence of people and beings that inhabit them. To conform to a visual interpretation that evokes the mystery that manifests itself in everyday rhythms, in the poetic condition that underlies the strange.
Oskar Alvarado was born in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. He currently resides in Barcelona where the artist combines his work of a photography teacher with the production of his personal works. Oskar holds a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from the Basque Country University. From his university, he later received a grant to develop the photographic project Conexiones based in an artist residence in Arteleku Art Center in San Sebastián. The artist’s work has been exhibited in various international festivals such as Voies Off Awards in Arles (France), Solar Photo Festival in Fortaleza (Brazil) or Addis Photo Fest in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia). In 2018, Oskar won the first Open Call of Helsinki Photo Festival.
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Tähtitorninvuoren puistoKopernikusentie 1
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