Memory Lab. Photography Challenges History
Eyes On – Month of Photography Vienna
Tanja Boukal (A), Steven Cohen (ZA) & Marianne Greber (A), Marcell Esterházy (H), Anna Jermolaewa (RUS), Noro Knap (SK), Tatiana Lecomte (F), Andreas Mühe (D), Erwin Olaf (NL), Gábor Ősz (H), Marija Mojca Pungercar (SLO), Aura Rosenberg (USA), Lina Scheynius (S), Juraj Starovecký (SK)
In 2014, the European Month of Photography (EMoP) not only celebrates its tenth anniversary; the network also welcomes a new partner, the Athens Photo Festival. As Europe commemorates the events of a hundred years ago, the partner cities have produced a joint exhibition that takes the visitor on a voyage into a turbulent and violent century of history.
Burdened with a fraught historic legacy (two World Wars, disintegration in the East and West, the civil war in the former Yugoslavia …), artists working in the early twenty-first century continue to explore the histories of their (native) countries, reflecting on subjective experiences and helping us gain a deeper understanding of the official accounts of the past and its repercussions.
What does the photographic image signify for the making of a past and a history? How can the distance between then and now, between present and past realities of life be bridged, and what kind of “objective reality” do such constructions engender? The critical examination of visual recollections and the framing of memories paradigmatically illustrate the challenge the artist who gives creative form to a history faces no less than the viewer who beholds his or her work: pictures that appeal to our recollection bring the past to life, but they also demand that, in remembering it, we remain conscious of our own present.
The works selected for the exhibition, many of which are highly personal, show that history is always made up of multiple components: it involves the past event as such, its (re)construction, and ultimately also us, who seek to understand what happened in the light of today’s world.