A group exhibition with Ellen Auerbach, Alfred Ehrhardt, Orri Jónsson, Aino Kannisto, Anne Lass and Christa Mayer. Curator Dr Marie Christine Jádi
This exhibition presents previously unknown portraits by Alfred Ehrhardt (1901–84) created on photo trips during the same period as his landscape photographs. These historical images are being shown for the first time alongside photographs by Ellen Auerbach (1906–2004), Orri Jónsson (b. 1970), Aino Kannisto (b. 1973), Anne Lass (b. 1978) and Christa Mayer (b. 1945).
The photographers’ points of departure may vary widely, but all of the images show how the intimacy of portraiture influences the perception of the landscape photographically. And vice versa, how the specific qualities of a landscape, all of its imponderables and charm, determine and shape the people in it. In short: how the outside is manifested on the inside and the inside is manifested on the outside.
The image of a landscape is, in the words of Alfred Ehrhardt, “more than the sum of individual geographical phenomena, it is a living being.” Alfred Ehrhardt, known for his brilliant photographs of nature, had a special interest in the people inhabiting a landscape and their living conditions. During his travels to northern Germany, Italy, Portugal, and the US in the 1930s to 1950s, he created compelling images of people in their familiar surroundings, which are now on view in the exhibition. Ehrhardt’s images capture the specific emotional bonds between people and spaces and depict familiarity, safety, and security.
Ellen Auerbach also connects a feeling of home to those around her. After emigrating to the US after 1933, she created remarkable photographs of personalities from her circle of friends and acquaintances. Among these is the 1954 photograph of her roommate and dancer Renate Schottelius leaping over the rooftops of Manhattan. She photographed the four “Porter children” by the sea while on vacation with friends. Her images capture unique, intimate moments that draw attention to the interplay between spaces and people.
German-Danish born Anne Lass studied at the prestigious Folkwang University of the Arts and was awarded the C/O Berlin Talent Award in 2009. Her most recent series, Low Season, created during the first winter of the Corona pandemic, examines people interacting with their immediate surroundings. Fellow island inhabitants, friends and neighbors of the photographer withdrew into their own personal spaces. Absorbed in their own inner worlds, they seemingly exist outside of time. Despite the privacy of the images, we are invited to share in their thoughts.
The work of Helsinki School photographer Aino Kannisto centers on children she photographed in summer at a lake in the wilderness of the Nordic forests—a fascinating and haunting place of longing for many childhood memories. Childlike being, its charm and directness serve as the starting point for the photo series. Despite peering directly at the photographer and thus the camera, the actions of the children remain enigmatic. These large-format images reveal the mysteriousness and inner beauty of children.
The innocence of children towards the world can also be felt in the work of Icelandic musician and photographer Orri. His images capture his four children as they grow up, from early childhood to their teenage years. With unassuming intimacy and a refined sensitivity for detail, he offers a very touching glimpse into his family history. The introspective quality of his portraits correlates to the outdoor shots of places where the family is at home.
Berlin photographer Christa Mayer first worked as a psychologist, later studied at the legendary Kreuzberg Werkstatt für Fotografie, and was recently honored by the Berlinische Galerie. Her early photographs portray patients from the restricted, long-term psychiatric ward with familiarity and sensitivity. Caught between portrait and landscape, Mayer’s imagery emanates enormous grace and presence: her sister, a nun, entering a dark forest on foot; disguised children in the ruins in front of a Mexican desert landscape; a Madonna-like mother with her child.