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Passion & Revolution

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From November 19, 2022, the f³ – Freiraum für Fotografie in Berlin presents the exhibition ‘Tina Modotti – Passion and Revolution’, continuing until February 5, 2023. An actress, photographer and revolutionary, Modotti was without doubt one of the most fascinating figures in the history of photography.

Born in Udine, Italy, in 1896, Modotti grew up in extreme poverty. By the time she was twelve, she was already working as a seamstress to contribute to the family income. When she was seventeen, she boarded a ship in Genoa, bound for America in search of a better life. Meeting the well-known photographer Edward Weston in San Francisco in 1923 introduced her to the medium of photography. Attracted to the revolutionary spirit of the era’s politics and art, Modotti (along with other artists and intellectuals) followed Weston to Mexico – a decision that had a profound impact on her life’s work: it was there that she created the main part of her oeuvre. From 1923 to 1930, she held up a mirror to the country, immersing herself in its social, political and cultural developments.

Her early still lifes and architectural photographs were soon followed by the emergence of her own, political photography, advocating for a better world. Modotti photographed the working poor: weather-beaten hands holding a spade, beggars sleeping on the streets. She also documented the revolutionary indigenous movement, as well as union and farmers’ gatherings. Much of her work centred on the lives of women and children. Her images of the workers' movement in the 1920s, as well as her photographs of the international artists’ scene that flocked into the country after the Mexican Revolution, are historical documents of inestimable value. Many of Modotti’s photographs were published in international newspapers and magazines during her lifetime.

Tina Modotti took on a pioneering role in many areas of her multi-faceted life, and made a significant mark on early Concerned Photography. The artist passed away in the night from January 5 to 6, 1942, suffering a heart attack while travelling in a taxi. She was only 46 years old.

For further information visit f³ – freiraum für fotografie

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