EventsTopography of Memory

MemoryLab: The Sentimental Turn

Photography Challenges History

The Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin shows in the frame of the European Month of Photography the exhibition Memory Lab: The Sentimental Turn. The exhibition deals with questions how are historical events, cultural characteristics and changes in social conditions portrayed by today’s artists and photographers who use the mediums of photography and video? How is the distance between then and now, between current living conditions and the object of interest photographically constructed and what “reality” is being presented? How is memory formulated and how does this counteract the act of forgetting?

Aura Rosenberg: Eye with Rubble, 2013

In the past two decades, a type of photography has established itself that explicitly turns away from the long time prevailing principles of documentary photography, photojournalism, strait and street photography. The photographer sets an emotionally charged gaze against objectivity and objective visualization based strategies.

This type of photography is often playful and implements the entire medium in order to stimulate an emotional reaction. The photographer aims to be touching and poignant. The artists included in the exhibition often tell stories through photo series and work often with essayistic elements.

With their work they want to wake up, involve people and take a closer look at the history by analizing it with emotional competences. One of these artists is Vera Frenkel from Canada. The exhibition shows for the first time in Europe her series The Blue Train (2012) – a complex ensemble of large screens, photographs, and tablet computers. In 32 short films, Frenkel condenses observations and creates typical scenes from everyday occurrences during the fictional train journey. In her work she addresses the story of her mother, who fled to London from the former Czech Republic in 1939 and creates a parallel to the memories of Werner Wolff, a Jewish photographer who emigrated from Germany to the US.  The two journeys through pre- and post-war Europe and the images connected to them are shown in close proximity in a large-scale simultaneous video presentation. They overlap and merge into one another like palimpsests to form exemplary motifs; they repeat, vanish, and reappear in the form of memory shreds of events that have been written or passed down orally.

frenkel_2 frenkel_1
Vera Frenkel – The Novelist Vera Frenkel – The Sergeant

The artists selected by the Month of Photography Berlin together with the European partner cities for the joint exhibition MemoryLab seek to stir things up with their images, to involve the viewer. They want to break history open and analyze it with emotional competence. They work in essay form, developing photographic series and narrative videos.


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The European Month of Photography Berlin is one of the biggest German Photo festival and celebrates this year its ten-year anniversary. Every second year they present numerous exhibitions and events to the topic historical and contemporary photography art. It is organized by the Kulturprojekte Berlin GmbH in cooperation with museums, cultural institutions, galleries, embassies and universities of Berlin and Potsdam.

(as of July 2014)
Andreas Mühe (Germany, Karl-Marx-Stadt, lives in Berlin),
Vera Frenkel (Slovakia, Bratislava, lives in Kanada, Toronto),
Pablo Zuleta-Zahr (Chile, Vina del Mar, lives in Berlin),
Erwin Olaf (Netherlands, Hilversum, lives in Amsterdam),
Aura Rosenberg (USA, New York, lives in New York and Berlin),
Nan Goldin (USA, Washington D.C., lives in Paris and Berlin),
Broomberg & Chanarin (Southafrica, Johannesburg/GB, London, lives in London),
Nasan Tur (Germany, Offenbach, lives in Berlin and Rome),
Stephanie Kloss (Germany, Karlsruhe, lives in Berlin),
Antoine d’Agata (France, Marseille),
Klaus Mettig (Germany, Brandenburg, lives in Düsseldorf),
Anna Charlotte Schmid (Germany, Essen, lives in Berlin),
Marko Lipuš (Austria, Eisenkappel, lives in Vienna),
Attila Floszmann (Hungary, Budapest),
Tomáš Šoltýs (Slovakia, Prešov, lives in Austria, Vienna)
Trevor Paglen (USA, Maryland, lives in New York)

Duration: Oct 17 – Dec 15, 2014
Location: Martin-Gropius-Bau, Niederkirchnerstraße 7, 10963 Berlin

Admission free.


Thomas Büsch

Filmmaker, Founding Member and Secretary General of diyalog, promotion of cultural exchange with Turkey. Since 2012 he is also project manager of InEnArt.

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