Iwajla Klinke is an enchantress. She turns her lens on strangely finely costumed, beautiful young people against a backdrop of black infinity, and as in a fairy tale, they pause, freeze without growing cold, with rapt gaze in well-measured tension, to be marveled at. It is not posing, it is a self-assured, generous granting of seeing in the light before the dark. This enigmatic calm in archaic presentation is disturbing and moving. We sense the proximity to sources of essentiality of our existence. The unconscious of our cultural roots of legends and myths is stirred. Uncertain voyeuristic desires germinate to touch the alluring in the mysterious abysses of distant, past rituals and stories.
It is a paradigm of our time to see in children and adolescents inexhaustible vitality, unrestrained power of development, infinite diversity of the possible and unshakeable certainty of the future, all of which are worthy of protection and in need of protection. The young people and children we are confronted with here may also unite all of these. Here and now, however, in the moment of enchantment, they do not show all this. Now and here they reveal to us glimpses of the vast arcs of human history and tradition. Embedded in this, they attain magnificent sovereignty and self-assurance.
Huastecan Cherubim I Mexico by Iwajla Klinke
My work is an attempt to deconstruct traditional ways of perception in Western culture, art history, mythology and religion. Hereby a main focus is set on transformations and passages, between realities, from childhood to adulthood, from one gender to another and more. For the last 8 years I have been researching and working on a major project about gender crossing in European ceremonies and traditions. For centuries boys are turned into girls within a high traditional context while dressed in venerable female garments for ancient winter processions, carnival or Pentecost. All over the Alps one can find elaborately staged boys and young men becoming girls and women for one day. In Spain Mary, the mother of god is represented by the best singer of a boys choir. In Moravia young boys become kings of their towns while being turned into a girl.
What Are We Going To Do With All This Future Vietnam by Iwajla Klinke
Another recent project is centered around the infantil knight in contemporary culture and especially youth culture. It all started with Carpaccio’s „Young Knight in a landscape“ at Thyssen Bornemisza. But it was not about him, instead about the one in the background. I was deeply touched by this young boy and his presence in the painting. His infantility contrasting with his armour, his remarkable melancholic look, then again, coronated by a peacock turning his back towards the scene. I compared him to other infantil knights in art history, by Pisanello, da Fabriano and Gozzoli, a century before. Images of monumental murals of processions of the Magi came into mind, narratives of the Children’s crusade, the Apocalyptic Knights, the Erlking, the Rat Catcher of Hamelin. I started to set out for the imagery of the infantil knight in contemporary culture to recreate a very personal, fantastic contemporary journey of Magi, an imaginative, modern-day boyhood apocalypse.
The Last Centaur II Bavaria by Iwajla Klinke
A first outcome is my series „Petaled Knights in Gemstones“, about a competition among young boys in a city in Southern Sicily every March. It is held in honor of Saint Joseph, around March 19th. Hidden in garages and carhouses the boys spent days and nights to cover their horses entirely in white and pink flowers arranged into overwhelming sacral and floral images. I have been fascinated by the idea of those boys recreating knight’s armours out of flowers, especially entirely in colors with commonly female connotations in society. Other places so far happened to be a motorcycle group of boys as young as 8 to11 years in Brandenburg or a youth club in a suburb of Hanoi.
Maurice II Germany by Iwajla Klinke
On the other hand I think two more aspects are most central to my work. It is a lot about death, about letting go, the idea and passing of time. Besides the transition between gender identities, a major theme for me is the passage from childhood to adulthood, perhaps parting in generell. One may consider my work a long series of farewells and transformations. I am interested in documenting high symbolic moments in our daily life and especially within youth culture. Ceremonies trying to celebrate the very moment by making it meaningful and sacred in most poetic ways before it is gone. A boy turning himself into a colorful tiger by painting his skin, another one having his face veiled by pearls or being covered in flowers that last for only a few hours.
Thorn Flowers IV Italy by Iwajla Klinke
Elements of Flemish portraiture and 19th century photography occur to meet within a contemporary framework. To create a radical solitude or silence around my subjects or maybe surround them by silence I am isolating them in front of a very dark background. It allows an immersion in timelessness, nothing can distract us. All photos are simply taken with natural light.„There is a kind of photography that could do that, predict death“, says Cees Nooteboom in one of his essays. The magic of 19th century photography captivated many. In "Camera Lucida", his essay on photography as well as eulogy for his late mother, Roland Barthes did put it perhaps most poetically while setting this early photography on a level with an experience of death and states a connection between the decline of traditional death and mourning rituals and the emergence of photography within the exact same decades: The beloved body becomes immortal through the mediation of a precious metal, silver. He compares the mesmerizing expression of those early portraits with a kind of luminous phosphorescent shadow that accompanies the body.
Therian Infantes VIII India by Iwajla Klinke
The precision and the classical aesthetic of Iwajla Klinke's portraits, evoke some of the great baroque painters of the Dutch Golden age, her systematic plastic language, black background and natural light, causes the characters to arise, giving them a poetic and disconcerting aspect at the same time. She builds a unified, utopian world, without geographical or historical reference marks. Most often, the celebrations gather children and teenagers who dress up, disguise themselves, put on a cloak, and pass from one sexual identity to another, creating vertigo and confusion.
The Last Centaur I Czech Republic by Iwajla Klinke
Besides the transition between gender identities, a major theme is the passage from childhood to adulthood, perhaps parting in generell. One may consider her work a long series of farewells and transformations. But at the same time also as an attempt to deconstruct traditional ways of perception in Western culture, art history, mythology and religion. For the last 8 years she has been researching and working on a major project about gender crossing in European ceremonies and traditions. For centuries boys are turned into girls within a high traditional context while dressed in venerable female garments for ancient winter processions, carnival or Pentecost. All over the Alps one can find elaborately staged boys and young men becoming girls and women for one day. In Spain Mary, the mother of god is represented by the best singer of a boys choir. In Moravia young boys become kings of their towns while being turned into a girl.
Nocturnal Rhine Glacier III Swiss by Iwajla Klinke
Though her work is not limited to sexual identities, she is preoccupied with the idea of adolescence "because it is the time before a major transformation on many levels". Her research on clothing is at the service of another research, more intimate, more interior. She questions the visitor on the way he expresses or hides his identities and how they follow one another or overlap in his own life.
Mexican Diaries III Mexico by Iwajla Klinke
“With a cast of colorful characters who would do justice to any repertory stage, Iwajla Klinke infuses portrait photography with the magic and elegance of its early years, when one of its primary goals was to document and celebrate ritual moments in an individual’s life.” - David Galloway
Therian Infantes IX India by Iwajla Klinke
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SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS
2018 “Infantes”, Museum Haus Löwenberg, Gengenbach
2018 “Oneironauts”, Galerie Voss, Düsseldorf
2018 “Palindrom”, Städtische Galerie, Bad Reichenhall
2017 “Infantes”, Galerie Anne de Villepoix, Paris
2016 “Grammar of Loss”, Galerie Anne de Villepoix, Paris
2016 “Red Sandals and a Mirror for Gabriel”, Galerie Voss, Düsseldorf
2015 “Pinakothek”, Natoli & Mascarenhas, Principality of Monaco
2014 “Ritual Memories”, Galerie Transarte, Sao Paulo
2014 “Winter Birds for Peter’s Throne”, Galerie Polaris, Paris
2014 “Ritual Memories”, Galerie Voss, Düsseldorf
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
2018 “Ein gemachter Mensch”, Kallmann Museum, München
2017 Collection Neuflize, Paris
2015 Hoffmann Collection Berlin
2015 68projects/ Galerie Kornfeld, Berlin
2015 Photo London, Somerset House
2014 Goethe Institut, Barcelona
2014 Paris Photo
2012 Artists House, Jerusalem
2012 Kunstraum Bethanien, Berlin
2011 Vienna Art Week, Sigmund Freud Museum, Wien
2011 Museum für Kommunikation, Berlin
2018 WELTKUNST, Germany
2017 WELTKUNST, Germany
2015 FACES/ Peter Weihermair
2015 C.A.P. 74024
2014 CONNAISSANCE DES ART’S
2014 ZOOM, Italy
2013 ART NEWS, USA
2011 DIE ZEIT, Germany
2011 DOOPLER MAGAZINE, Buenos Aires
2011 ART IN AMERICA, USA
2011 DUST MAGAZINE, London
2011 TUSH MAGAZINE, Germany
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