Under the title "Koelbl - Wenders - Bender: Three Women Photographers - Three Generations," Leica will present exciting insights into three extraordinary lives from August 26 to September 3, 2021. A strong photographic triad can be discovered at this year's BERLIN PHOTO WEEK (BPW) with Leica photographers Herlinde Koelbl, Donata Wenders, and Xiomara Bender. 

Feine Leute, 1985 © Herlinde Koelbl

Herlinde Koelbl, Feine Leute, 1985 © Herlinde Koelbl

As different as the themes and visual languages of the three photographers may be, they are united in their choice of camera. A Leica was always present: from the early analog social studies of Herlinde Koelbl, to the poetic stagings of Donata Wenders, to current insights into the living world of North Korea, which Xiomara Bender explored with her Leica SL. The exhibition is curated by Karin Rehn-Kaufmann, Art Director and General Representative Leica Galleries International, who is also a member of the BERLIN PHOTO WEEK Creative Board this year. The presentation, which was developed especially for the exhibition venue, the ARENA Berlin, shows complementary text and video elements in addition to the photographic image groups. In this way, the three artistic positions interweave to form an extraordinary course that offers exciting insights into Leica photographs from five decades.

For decades, Herlinde Koelbl (*1939), as a sensitive chronicler and critical observer, has repeatedly questioned the sensitivities of German society photographically in free projects. In Berlin, a selection of works from the extensive cycles "Das Deutsche Wohnzimmer" (The German Living Room), "Feine Leute" (Fine People), "Kleider machen Leute" (Clothes Make the People) as well as from the current series "Faszination Wissenschaft" (Fascination Science) will be presented. Again and again, it becomes apparent how convincingly the photographer succeeds in the fascinating interplay of gaining knowledge and fine portraiture with explorative curiosity and perseverance.

Like Herlinde Koelbl, Donata Wenders (*1965) also relies entirely on the possibilities of black-and-white photography in her artistic work. However, she concentrates more on the individual image, which is always shaped into a unique poetic composition by light and shadow as well as by playing with sharpness or blurriness. Whether it's a magical figure study or a classic portrait, in her work the artist playfully expands the view beyond the conventional and familiar.

Xiomara Bender (*1987) is represented in the exhibition with an intensive color photographic series from North Korea taken almost two years ago. Like hardly any other Western photographer, she has succeeded in getting to know the hermetically sealed country over the past ten years. Bender sees her photographs as both ambassadors and projection surfaces. They invite us to engage with the seemingly foreign and, in the process, to rethink the mostly prevailing clichés.

"Koelbl - Wenders - Bender: Three Women Photographers - Three Generations": the unifying element of all three artistic positions is the human being at the center. The photographers report on the everyday lives of a wide variety of protagonists, lifting them out of their environment with a wide variety of creative means and making us want to take a closer look at the respective stories. The planned talk with the photographers will be a highlight of the presentation at the BERLIN PHOTO WEEK.

Xiomara Bender
The Power of Dreams 2011-2019, Kim Il Sung Square 2015
© Xiomara Bender

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