8th Triennial of Photography Hamburg 2022 presents 12 exhibitions on “Currency”

With twelve exhibitions starting from May 20, 2022, the 8th Triennial of Photography Hamburg will engage the theme of Currency from multiple angles and perspectives. From colonial-era photo albums to visual reveries, social documentary and conceptual approaches to photography, the exhibitions explore the polyphonic ways in which photographs are produced, circulated and interpreted. The exhibition parcours through Hamburg was conceived by artistic director Koyo Kouoh and her international team, alongside the curators of the ten participating museums and exhibition venues in Hamburg. The exhibitions will be accompanied by numerous events and a festival lasting several days in June 2022.

At the Hall for Contemporary Art of the Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Koyo Kouoh, Rasha Salti, Gabriella Beckhurst Feijoo and Oluremi C. Onabanjo examine the “retinal age”, in which images fundamentally shape acts of seeing and being seen. The exhibition Currency: Photography Beyond Capture weaves experimental modes of portrayal, documentary and multisensory evocation, as entry points into reimagining how knowledge is sought and constructed through the photographic medium. With works by artists including Akinbode Akinbiyi, Ziad Antar, Vartan Avakian, Oroma Elewa, Anne-Marie Filaire, Alfredo Jaar, Clifford Prince King, Marilyn Nance, Guevara Namer, Otobong Nkanga, Rana El-Nemr, Jo Ratcliffe, Cecilia Reynoso, RaMell Ross, Raed Yassin and Paul Yeung.

Deichtorhallen Hamburg: Hall for Contemporary Art
Raed Yassin, The Company Of Silver Spectres, 2021, acrylic spray paint on vintage found photographs. Courtesy of the artist.

Two of the triennial’s exhibitions are devoted to photographer Herbert List. The Magic Eye at the Bucerius Kunst Forum presents the first international survey exhibition of his work in more than two decades. The retrospective spans his career from surrealist works to his visions of life in antiquity and extensive pictorial reports of non-European cultures, all the way to the male nudes with which List avowed his own homosexuality.

List’s work before 1945 betrays the strong influence of pittura metafisica and Surrealism. Like Giorgio de Chirico and René Magritte, he strove to visualize the more inscrutable and ambiguous aspects of reality. Many of his photographs, whether taken in Hamburg, Paris, or Athens, exude an aura of mystery and enigma. While travelling in Mediterranean climes, List set out to bring back to life in his pictures the ideals of classical Greek and Roman antiquity. He later revived this magical world in photographs taken amid the ruins of Munich after 1945. After the war, he devoted his energies primarily to photo essays, producing extensive reports on Naples, the Caribbean, and Mexico, published either in book form or in leading magazines such as Life, Heute, and DU. His interest in non-European cultures eventually led to extensive series on Nigerian, Oceanic, and pre-Columbian sculpture. Further chapters in the exhibition explore List’s penchant for the male nude as well as his portraits of modern artists including Picasso, Miró, Braque, Chagall, Calder, and Morandi, and writers such as Pier Paolo Pasolini and Ingeborg Bachmann.

The exhibition, a collaboration between the Bucerius Kunst Forum and the Herbert List Archive at the Munich City Museum, presents approximately 220 original photographs dating from 1930 to 1965.

Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg
Herbert List, Instructive View of the Chest, 1944, Gelatin silver print, 296 x 191 mm, Herbert List Estate Hamburg © Magnum Photos / Herbert List Estate Hamburg.

Präuschers Panoptikum. A Photo Book by Herbert List will be presented at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg. The exhibition presents Herbert List’s never- before-shown photo book project, photographs from the 1930s and 1940s, as well as magazine articles, wax figures from the Vienna Wax Museum and the original book draft.

The show traces the circulation of List’s photographs since their origin, revealing the historical contexts that have affected the interpretations of his work over the years.

Bucerius Kunst Forum
Herbert List, Unter dem Poseidontempel, Sounion 1937, Münchner Stadtmuseum, Photography Collection, Archive List © Herbert List Estate, Hamburg, Deutschland.

The transfer and circulation of meaning in photography also informs the subject of the exhibition at the Hamburger Kunsthalle: Give and Take. Images upon Images describes how pictures circulate across geographical, cultural and social boundaries and thereby lose their intention; their meanings can no longer be controlled. In their recent photographs, films and installations, the artists in the group exhibition respond to images that originate in another time or were developed for a different purpose. With works by artists including Viktoria Binschtok, Sara Cwynar, Louise Lawler, Max Pinckers, Walid Raad, Volker Renner, Taryn Simon and Wolfgang Tillmans.

Hamburger Kunsthalle
Viktoria Binschtok, Lines & Clouds, 2020, digital c-print, 117 x 69 cm / 117 x 130 cm. Courtesy: © Viktoria Binschtok / Klemm’s Berlin.

The Kunstverein in Hamburg will present a solo exhibition of artist and photographer LaToya Ruby Frazier, namely, Flint is Family, Act III, the last part of her photo series in which Frazier documented the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Her formally astute as well as politically forceful photographs show how industrial and governmental neglect toward the sanctity of the city’s water supply had an immediate impact on community member’s lives.

Flint Is Family, Act III by LaToya Ruby Frazier (b. 1982), the final part in a series of photographs documenting the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, which started in 2014 and continues today. Through capturing the stories of Flint residents, Frazier shows how industrial and governmental neglect toward the sanctity of the city’s water supply had an immediate impact on community members’ lives. In this final act, Frazier shows how Shea Cobb, Amber Hasan, and herself—three African American women from working class backgrounds—were at the helm of bringing resources and care to a community under attack.

Expanding on the legacy of the work of Gordon Parks and Ralph Ellison, who photographed 1940s Harlem, Frazier approaches injustices of today as a continuation of this social documentary photography that is as formally astute as it is politically forceful. Frazier’s activism, which focuses on actively addressing issues of social injustice, labor rights, racism, and environmental pollution in cities plunged into decline by deindustrialization, veritably corresponds with the theme of the 8th Triennial of Photography Hamburg: currency.

Curated by Nicholas Tammens.

Kunstverein in Hamburg
LaToya Ruby Frazier, Flint Students and Community Members Outside Northwestern High School (Est. 1964) Awaiting the Arrival of President Barack Obama, May 4, 2016, Flint, Michigan, II, 2016-2017, Gelatin silver print, 20 x 24 inches © LaToya Ruby Frazier. Courtesy the artist and Gladstone Gallery.

The Kunsthaus Hamburg will present Cambio, by the Italian design duo formafantasma, a series of visual essays that explore the development and regulation of the global timber industry. Based on extensive research, the series traces the two-hundred year old history of the industry, that began in the colonized regions of the world and shaped the perception of nature as a raw material and “currency.”

The exhibition at Kunsthaus Hamburg encompasses three parts of Formafantasma’s longterm investigation and multidisciplinary exhibition project Cambio. In the form of visual essays, they trace the development and regulation of the global timber industry that emerged in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, especially in colonized regions. The understanding of nature as a raw material and commodity, as well as the human relationship to nature, is reflected in historical, scientific, and documentary photographs and film footage. The green screen method serves the artists as a key design element, which corresponds visually to the complexity of the narration and sources of information.

The films Cambio and Seeing the wood for the trees investigate how the timber industry has evolved over time and how its governance is structured today, touching upon the European and global regulations involved. The works ask how a networked understanding of materials can be applied to a more holistic approach to design and our relationship to the world. They further draw connections between timber’s physical materiality and the abstract but pervasive conditions of exploitation, colonialism, and consumerism.

The third film Quercus was created in collaboration with the philosopher and botanist Emanuele Coccia. Through its narrative, the work questions our sense of dominance, observing the degree to which humanity is dependent upon the form and physicality of trees from the perspective of an imagined forest. The visuals for this piece are provided by a laser scanner, used for cartography and archaeology and recently adopted by the timber industry to select trees for logging.

Formafantasma is a research-based design studio investigating the ecological, historical, political and social forces shaping the discipline of design today. Since founding the studio in 2009, Italians Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin have championed the need for value-laden advocacy merged with holistic design thinking.

Curated by Katja Schroeder.

Kunsthaus Hamburg
formafantasma, Cambio, 2020, Video still.

The Museum am Rothenbaum – World Cultures and Arts will re-examine its photographic collection from the perspective of its original meaning as a “currency” in global trade.

Photographs often appear to be records of past moments, events, and memories. With materials spanning different geopolitical regions and social backgrounds from all over the world, the photo archive becomes a fountain of intersecting histories. The focus of the exhibition Archive of Experiences at the MARKK is a photo album from 1868 linked to the city of Singapore and a Hamburg merchant family. The exhibition addresses the multivalent memories and contested meanings of such an originally private assemblage of images now part of the MARKK photographic collection. The visual encounter of the subjects, the materiality, and the means of distribution will together resonate with currency as the underlying theme of the 8th Triennial of Photography Hamburg.

The exhibition features visually compelling images depicting people, landscapes, and architecture related to Singapore and Southeast Asia from the first decades of photography. Premised on the museum as a place with potential to open up new frames of references in which photographs can interrupt dominant narratives, the exhibition seeks to reclaim perceptions that have been formed through the consumption of photographs, specifically in scenarios where photographs have been used as tools to register and fix identities, and to accumulate knowledge and therefore power over others. As an attempt to challenge these patterns of value formation and inscription, MARKK in Motion Artist in Residence Kelvin Haizel will engage with the photo archive to create a corresponding artwork for the exhibition.

Curated by Martha Kazungu and Gabriel Schimmeroth.

MARKK – Museum am Rothenbaum. World Cultures and Arts
Album with studio portraits, city views and landscape photographs from Singapore; 1886; MARKK Photographic Collection, Inv. Nr. 84.P.1:1 © MARKK, Foto: Paul Schimweg.

Titled Strike!, the Museum der Arbeit will present a photographic history of key labor struggles and momentum from the 1960s to the current gig economy. Organized as a set of chapters, Strike! On the Iconography of Protest takes the structural crises of leading regional industries in the Ruhr region and Hamburg in the 1960s and 1980s as a starting point for the development of strike culture in Germany. Further explored are the miners' strike of 1984 in Great Britain, the “sans-papiers” of France, led by migrant workers from 1996 onwards, and the 2012 strike of South African miners in the region of Marikani.

With a focus on photography, Strike! explores how awareness and solidarity spread through a visual culture of labor struggles, affecting both the participants involved and the self-image of trade unions. The majority of the photographs presented were taken by press photographers who accompanied the labor struggles. The photo archive of the Ruhr Museum Essen contains the estates and archives of a number of significant photographers such as Anton Tripp, Manfred Scholz, and Klaus Rose, while series held by the Museum der Arbeit, DOMiD in Cologne, Magnum Paris, and the photographers themselves, enrich this presentation. Through oral history and ephemera, Strike! further aims to center the protagonists of these movements and public response to these actions. 

Museum der Arbeit
Occupation of the HDW yard, 1983, Photo: Michael Meyborg.

Behind the Scenes at the PHOXXI, the temporary House of Photography, will articulate in two parts: The first will confront the F.C. Grundlach Collection with processes of exchange and change, with Christoph Irrgang’s photographs offering insights into the microcosm of this private collection, whose cultural value carries a powerful “currency.” And the second part of the exhibition, inviting Photonews editors Anna Gripp and Dennis Brudna to explore happenings at Paris Photo, the world’s largest photography fair, will incarnate the “stock exchange” of this medium.

Deichtorhallen Hamburg: PHOXXI
Christoph Irrgang, from the series: Behind the Scenes, 2021 © Christoph Irrgang.

With Hamburg im Blick – Fotografien von Hans Meyer-Veden at the Jenisch Haus, the F.C. Gundlach Foundation will show the wanderer with a camera in his captures of the big city. Meyer-Veden photographed architectural ensembles and details in the narrow alleys of Altona and between the warehouses of Speicherstadt as well as technical equipment and installations in the harbour and the ever-changing water surface of the Elbe, always walking on foot, for more than three decades.

Jenisch Haus
Hans Meyer-Veden, Bahrenfelderstrasse in Altona, Estate Hans Meyer-Veden, Stiftung F.C. Gundlach.

The Deichtorhallen Hamburg will host another exhibitions. The Falckenberg Collection presents a major survey of the Hamburg fashion and advertising photographer Charlotte March. The large-scale retrospective focuses on photographs of Hamburg in the post-war era between colonial heritage, everyday life and modern urbanity.

The major retrospective on Charlotte March (1929–2005) at the Falckenberg Collection focuses on the previously little-known works of this photographer from Hamburg, who is known for her fashion and advertising photos. Her estate, comprising nearly seven thousand works, has been part of the Falckenberg Collection since 2006. It forms the basis for the rediscovery of this photographer, who worked for magazines such as Brigitte, Stern, Vogue, Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar, and Twen. Her 1977 self-published book Mann, oh Mann: Ein Vorschlag zur Emanzipation des attraktiven Mannes was widely discussed, since it was the first to explicitly show a female view of the male body.

The exhibition offers an overview of all the artist’s creative periods, from her early photographs in Hamburg in the 1950s to her trips to Italy in the 1960s and her later international fashion and advertising photographs. It focuses in particular on March’s work in and relationship to the city of Hamburg, where she lived throughout her life.

Starting in the 1950s, her highly sensitive view of postwar Hamburg shows the various facets of the city and of human life. Her interest in people and how they make a living, as well as her perspective on the fringes of society and the city, also led her to marginalized, utterly unglamorous places. This behind-the-scenes glimpse of the city shows what life was like for candymakers, blacksmiths, and cashiers, as well as in the Reeperbahn, Hamburg’s red-light district.

March’s early work in particular made an important, previously little-known contribution to the cultural memory of the city of Hamburg and beyond. The exhibition in the Falckenberg Collection is being realized in close collaboration with Manju Sawhney, a photographer and March’s longtime assistant, as well as archivist of her estate.

Curated by Goesta Diercks and Dirk Luckow in cooperation with Manju Sawhney.

Deichtorhallen Hamburg: Sammlung Falckenberg
Charlotte March, Untitled (Ischia), 1953, 23 x 24 cm, Baryt © Charlotte March, Deichtorhallen Hamburg / Falckenberg Collection.

The Stiftung Historische Museen Hamburg will cue historical references to the topic with three exhibitions. Macht Mittel Geld, the exhibition at the Museum für Hamburgische Geschichte, will approach “currency” literally through the museum’s significant inventory of coins that reflect particular aspects of colonial history. Coins and banknotes were an expression of colonial power, and not merely the conventional means of exchange for the economy.

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