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Triennial of Photography Hamburg : A journey, part one – The Eye of Photography

To meet, finally to exchange, to give substance to a photographic event that crosses the whole city, to also show what has been created despite everything during these last two suspended years. This is what the Hamburg Photographic Triennial has imagined for this new edition which takes over 12 places in the port city from May 20 to September 18, 2022. Tour of the city, of the spaces and exhibitions that make up this triennial both ambitious and accessible: follow the guide!

Currency: an English term that could be translated into German by at least five different words. It is from this theme and reflections around the value of images, its weight, its role that 12 exhibitions were born, bringing together 77 artists from all over the world through installations imagined by a group of curators working in close relationship with the places in which the works are presented. It is to these spaces of the German metropolis which have put on the green colors of the Triennale until September, that we take you on a journey.

Before entering the bustling center of Hamburg, the Jenisch Haus, a large bourgeois building anchored in the middle of a wooded park in the Altona district, allows you to gently enter the subject by exposing more than twenty-five years of photography and wanderings in the city of the local photographer Hans Meyer-Veden. Like a precious archive of an era, we walk with him street after street and all around Hamburg, in these arteries without passers-by but nevertheless very much alive. A sense of composition and detail leads the photographer to compose an intimate geography of the city, soft and particularly touching, in an impressive shade of gray. This exhibition is dotted with three artistic installations which also seek to document the city, through the prism of artists and local voices who strive to document, to archive the stages of a constantly changing city.

Arriving in the nerve center of the city, the Hamburg History Museum offers a particular meaning to the currency theme: this large stone building, surmounted by a majestic central glass roof, retaining numerous pieces, relics from different eras, especially from the German colonial past. Imagined by the curator Yolanda Gutierrez, around the work of Rwandan photographer Chris Schwaffa with the dancer Eva Lomby, the creation Power. Means. Money. welcomes us on a landing and invents a scenography of the body that invites us to look at the other side of the room to question its meaning: how to go beyond, repair the past, move forward together? Costumes or necklaces made of copper pieces, hands and legs adorned with these historical pieces invite us to shift our gaze, to a new way of approaching history, the past and the future.

A little further on, in a hushed room at the Ethnology Museum, next to totems and gigantic galleons keeping traces of buried civilizations, it is the question of the gift, with the work of Kelvin Haizel, Ghanaian photographer. What does this represent? What do we do with these archives? Seizing an archive album from 1868 offered to the museum and documenting Singapore, then a British colony, the artist transforms this historical material into artistic support. Through various means, including collage that highlights details of the images or the transformation of scans into negatives, Kelvin Haizel offers a new way of leafing through this album and invites us to look at the archives with a diversity of perspectives.

It is also this work of reappropriation of images that is at the heart of Give and take at the Museum of Fine Arts: an exhibition of 20 international artists using archive images, creating new images to fill in the gaps in history, exploiting images of other artists through the themes of algorithms or identity. We stroll among the works occupying the entire floor, sometimes immersive like the thousands of photos that line the walls and the floor from Evan Roth’s internet history, sometimes hypnotizing like Walid Raad’s kaleidoscopic video series which exploits images of the demolitions of buildings in Lebanon, and very often engaged, like the work of Max Pinckers, who goes further than the reuse of archives by taking the side of imagining and recreating, with veterans of a war in Kenya never documented, new photographic archives. Exhibitions that respond to each other, which question and also play on the border between reality and fiction.

It is reality, sometimes harsh and frontal, that is in the spotlight with Strike, an exhibition presented in a room of the Musée du travail. Sections of walls project us over the past decades into demonstrations, sometimes marked by violence, demolition, through the prism of committed photographers, sent by the media, or demonstrators themselves. These photos document defining moments like behind-the-scenes scenes and preparations for these major events, from the 1960s to the present day. Industrial crisis in the Ruhr, demonstrations by workers in England, undocumented migrants in France, miners in South Africa, new questions around the uberisation of work show the necessary work of photojournalists as close as possible to the action.

This is also the bias of Latoya Ruby Frazier, who, in the white and minimalist space of the Kunstverein in Hamburg, presents Flint is Family, ACT III, an exhibition in the purest documentary tradition, around the subject of access to drinking water in a context of deindustrialization in Flint, Michigan. A narrative presentation composed of portraits that are both simple and touching but also scenes of life made up of water fights and the distribution of cans, in color or black and white, in which the text gives voice to the inhabitants and responds to the images. .

To continue the visit and discover the last six exhibitions that make up this Triennale, see you in a week.

More information
8th Triennial of Photography Hamburg 2022
12 exhibitions in Hamburg
From May 20 to September 18, 2022
Opening weekend: May 20-22, 2022

Festival Triennial Expanded: June 2-6, 2022

www.phototriennale.de