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From 21 May 2016, the Hilaneh von Kories Gallery in Berlin presents the exhibition Perilous Hope – A Documentary on Refugees by German photographer Neal McQueen, whose work has been dedicated to the social and political changes in Europe for many years.

The exhibited photographs were predominantly taken on the Greek island of Lesbos and the Greek-Macedonian border in Idomeni. The series Quo Vadis Europa, which will also be presented at the gallery, was created between April and June 2015 with a Leica M Monochrom form the LFI loan-pool. For this ongoing long-term project, the photographer conducts extensive interviews with a wide range of subjects, encouraging them to share their opinions on today’s Europe. The conversations are accompanied by powerful black and white portraits of the interviewees, creating a palpable impression of Europe's multi-faceted diversity.

Perilous Hope marks the first time the photographer's non-profit project is exhibited in a gallery. McQueen's work is distinguished by a sense of immediacy, along with a personal closeness to the people he portrays and their often dramatic life circumstances. The photographs and accompanying texts are presented on large-format paper flags, designed to emphasise the spontaneous and direct process by which the images were created.

In contrast to the majority of photojournalists documenting the refugee crisis, Neal McQueen predominantly sees himself as an independent photographer. We were able to ask him a few questions about his experiences.

Do you still believe in the classic photo-reportage?

Yes, I believe that the power and impact of a good photo-reportage is still indisputable. However, the sheer volume of images both on the net and in the classic forms of media have made it much harder for good work to get noticed.

Why do you prefer shooting in black and white?

I personally find black and white photographs much more moving than colour images. For a large part, I experience colour as a distraction. Black and white is more concentrated, focused, to the point and timeless.  

What does photography mean to you?

Photography has changed me, helped me grow as a person and altered my perception of the world. When I work with a camera, I am focused as if in a meditation. Since April 2015, I have almost exclusively pursued documentary projects, whereby I see myself more as a humanist activist than a journalist. That aside, I tend to be interested in revealing hidden treasures: as a photographer I have the opportunity to make details perceptible by seizing them from the stream of time.

The exhibition is open from 21 May to 30 June. For further information visit www.galeriehilanehvonkories.de.

Neal McQueen

Neal McQueen (born 1969 in Hamburg) has been interested in photography ever since his father, a much-travelled ship's captain, gave him a Russian camera when he was just fourteen. To begin with, however, music would supersede his passion for photography. For 25 years, McQueen was active in various branches of the music industry before re-discovering photography in 2011. Initially preferring analogue techniques, McQueen now shoots the majority of his projects with digital equipment – though he still maintains his commitment to black and white photography.

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