At this year’s BERLIN PHOTO WEEK, CHAUSSEE 36 presents two exhibitions that are in dialogue with each other. One is the show “Dancing through Times of Uncertainty” – a duo exhibition with Magnum photographer Inge Morath (1923-2002) and Inge Morath Award winner Johanna-Maria Fritz (*1994) on the occasion of Magnum Photo’s 75th anniversary. On the other hand, the solo exhibition “Updating a Family Album” by the famous Iranian photographer Malekeh Nayiny (b. 1955).
“Dancing through Times of Uncertainty.”
The works of Inge Morath and Johanna-Maria Fritz show artists – jugglers, clowns, musicians and dancers – in an environment where we would least expect them, in countries such as Iran, Afghanistan and Palestine; countries known for political conflicts and difficult living conditions.
Serenity meets harsh reality: we see mourners at a grave in a refugee camp as well as armed military in Gaza. And yet there is a stilt walker with juggling clubs, dressed all colorful. Because even in this environment there are free spaces and places of refuge.
Inge Morath has captured everyday life and street scenes in numerous countries, especially Iran. This also includes musicians, dancers and other artists. The exhibition gathers iconic to lesser known works of the famous photographer in this special compilation. The photographs, most of which were taken in the 1950s and 1960s, captivate with their timeless aesthetic and have a lightness as much as concentration.
Inge Morath became a member of Magnum in 1955, as the second photographer alongside Eve Arnold, and was subsequently associated with the agency for more than 50 years. Her photographs were honored in exhibitions of renowned museums worldwide.
In her long-term project “Like a Bird,” the young artist Johanna-Maria Fritz has dedicated herself since 2014 to the circus in Muslim countries, documenting how artists create for themselves and their audiences a place of freedom and dreams, where one feels – as a boy from Gaza says – “like a bird.” “The circus is a place free of religion, nationality or skin color – it is a refuge in times of uncertainty or conflict,” says Johanna-Maria Fritz. Her photographs have a special colorfulness that is both luminous and nostalgic. They seem detached from time and place.
Johanna-Maria Fritz, who studied photography at the Ostkreuzschule and is a member of this agency, has received the Peace Prize for Photography, the Lotto Brandenburg Prize, and the Inge Morath Award in 2017, among others.
The exhibition offers a journey to different countries and can be seen – especially in the current political situation – as a signal. Art has the power to give people a moment of normalcy or resistance.
“Updating a Family Album”
Parallel to “Dancing through Times of Uncertainty,” Malekeh Nayiny’s best-known series “Updating A Family Album” (1997-2014) will be on view. Nayiny, who lives in Paris, is one of the most prominent Iranian women photographers of our time. She left Iran to study photography and cinematography in America and France, but was unable to return to her homeland due to the Islamic Revolution.
In order to build a bridge to her family and roots, the artist turned to old photographs from the family album and brought them back to life through digital processing. In bright colors, against pop backgrounds, we see Nayiny’s family members. The works offer an intimate glimpse into the diverse cultural influences of her upbringing inside and outside Iran. The original family photographs were taken before the Islamic Revolution, making the women appear with voluminous hairstyles and bare legs. The artist additionally incorporates Western landscapes, stamps, and accessories – a gesture that assimilates her own biography. The anachronistic language within the photographs underscores the extreme shift in sociopolitical values and rights within her homeland.
“Updating a Family Album” romanticizes a place that never existed and offers a very personal view of life in Iran to complement the photographs of Inge Morath and Johanna-Maria Fritz. While Morath and Fritz capture life on the streets, Nayiny gives us insight into her family life as a native Iranian.
Dancing through Times of Uncertainty
Featured artists: Inge Morath and Johanna-Maria Fritz
Updating a Family Album
Exhibited artists: Malekeh Nayiny
01.09. – 29.10.2022
Opening Hours: Thursday – Saturday, 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Title image: Inge Morath, Gaza, Beach Camp, copyright Inge Morath, Magnum Photos