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On Contemporary Photography

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The focus of 'World Images 6' is on the individual: on how we find direction, how we are manipulated, how we are left to our own devices, how we move within the community, how we perceive society and the self.

Geographically, this exhibition, the sixth in the series, spans five continents and subcontinents, with the exception of Australia, visits fifteen African countries and goes to places as diverse as Jordan, Russia, China, Brazil, the USA, Canada as well as Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Italy, before returning to Switzerland. Thematically, it focuses on people, how they see themselves, how they interact with one another, and how they behave in the wider social environment.

The intensity of experiencing a single, exemplary image counters the visual overload that is so often noted. Photography is an ideal medium through which to explore the relationship between people and the world around them. Its delimitation of space and time invites focused contemplation. The reality it portrays is one that has been transformed and imaged. In documenting reality, it documents a subjective notion of reality. The camera, as an “extension of the eye”, delves into that which arouses the interest of the photographer. And the view it presents triggers reflection. What appears at first to be unfamiliar ultimately leads us back to ourselves.

This existential dimension is an intrinsic aspect of the works in the exhibition: they are images that confront us with ourselves. For instance, by making us aware that we can feel as lost in suburban no-man’s-land as we can in the jungle; but also by making us realise that we can face this feeling with open eyes and relate to what it is that creates such a sense of insecurity and manipulation.

The exhibition also reveals relationships between ourselves and nature, ourselves and culture, that are less fraught; relaxed interpersonal relationships when there is openness, trust, and when there is mutual exchange instead of aloof reserve – be it within the (extended) family, the social fabric of a village community or a city. In principle, all of the images demonstrate that this attitude to others also requires a corresponding attitude to the self – for each photograph reflects not only its subject matter, but also the view of the artist. This is particularly evident when a photographer points the camera at herself.

'World Images 6' is also exciting in its breadth of form: Sharply focused, large-format prints are included alongside atmospheric images in which such clarity of technical detail is not a priority. Whether pasted onto a carrier, heavily framed or simply pinned to the wall, many different presentational aspects of contemporary photography can be found here.

Works by
Shan Feiming (*1978 in Lin’an, China; lives in Hangzhou, China): Gilles Fontolliet (*1981 in Zurich; lives in Zurich) Paul Graham (*1956 in Stafford, England; lives in New York); Lukas Hoffmann (*1981 in Zug; lives in Berlin); Flurina Rothenberger (*1977 in Männedorf; lives in Zurich); Lina Scheynius (*1981 in Vänersborg, Sweden; lives in London); Marike Schuurman (*1964 in Groningen, Netherlands; lives in Berlin); Annelies Štrba (*1947 in Zug; lives in Richterswil and Ascona)

Please find more information at Helmhaus

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