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Wiktoria Wojciechowska
Wiktoria Wojciechowska
Wiktoria Wojciechowska

Wiktoria Wojciechowska

Country: Poland
Birth: 1991

Born 1991, Lublin, Poland. Lives and works in Lublin and Paris. Graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, Poland, Wiktoria Wojciechowska was the 2015 winner of the Oskar Barnack Leica Newcomer Award for Short Flashes, portraits of drenched cyclists captured on the streets of Chinese’s metropolis. Between 2014 and 2016 she worked on the series Sparks, a portrait of a contemporary war based on the stories of people living in the Ukrainian conflict. This series received several awards, such Les Rencontres d’Arles New Discovery award’s public prize, Madame Figaro prize and the Prix pour la Photographie, Fondation des Treilles.

Labirinto (2017-2019)

Labirinto explores the architecture seen as a vector for an ideology, spreading in the inhabitants' thoughts. Architecture stays longer than its creators and might still smuggle fundamental ideas and atmosphere of passed days. Labirinto project is a starting point to discuss how the architecture influence inhabitants and if a city, structured as a symbol of fascist ideology, can become a dwelling for strangers.

Wiktoria Wojciechowska works in the area of Agro Pontino in Italy: formerly marshes, which were, throughout centuries, a challenge for the authorities. The Romans, Popes and Napoleon have all tried to drain, recultivate it and build new settlements. The one who achieve the goal was Benito Mussolini, with the help of the hard work of World War I combatants.

In the beginning of 30's, the project of foundation of the New Cities (Città nuove) started. The best Italian architects of these times were involved to draw the net of streets on the Pontine plain as on a blank page. They were to arrange the monuments and neighbourhood buildings - following the current of rationalist architecture, adopted by the fascist as the official style of the ideology - of five cities: Littoria, Pontinia, Sabaudia, Aprilia and Pomezia. Designed in the model of "the rural city", they should serve as a renewal of civilisation (Bonifica della cultura) and the so-called Mussolini's Arcadia for a "purified nation" of New Italians.

This is how Littoria has been conceived, in 1932, from the mud and has been raised as the first of the five Mussolini's New Cities. Littoria was called the "jewel of Mussolini" and radiated by the combination of a stellate network of streets and curved ring roads, all converging towards the central square (Piazza del Littorio, now Piazza del Popolo). The labyrinth-like city was awaiting the new residents coming from the entire Italy to live in the empty buildings and appreciate the monumental solutions drawn upon the Roman Empire tradition.

After the World War II, the city was rebaptized to Latina to obliterate its fascist past and became a temporary asylum for displaced Italians and migrants. Between 1957 and 1991, 80 000 foreigners passed by the refugee camp. They were coming from Eastern Europe, fleeing the communist regimes, from Vietnam, Northern Africa, etc. Despite the official closing of the camp in 1991, the migration is still an ongoing process. Today, the majority of newcomers originate from sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria, Gambia, Ghana, Mali…

The artist describes her work: In the middle of the day, during "the siesta", when the city is hot and stuffy, the streets become empty. The pale facades of the buildings reflect the sunlight like mirrors and hurt the eyes. As in De Chirico's paintings, the palisades are playing with lights and shades. The emptiness creates an illusion that we are back in the 30s. Only the scratches and coloured patches on the walls unmask the timeworn city. From time to time, human figures flash by in the sun. These are those who get lost in this labyrinth, not knowing the rules of the city. They barely arrived there, but who gets into the labyrinth once, might not be able to wriggle out ever.

Today in front of Palazzo M - built in the shape of the initial of Mussolini, a queue of immigrants is standing and waiting for their documents.

Wiktoria Wojciechowska observes the city - silent witness of changing times - and recent immigrants, far from being integrated. During the conversations, they often mention the discrimination, preconceived ideas and the fear of locals; their superiority coming from the colonial past, racism. They feel suspended, awaiting decisions and documents, trapped in the city space. The locals expect to move the immigrants out of the cities; they are not to be seen, as they "change the landscape", they should be invisible. The ideology, which sponsored the constructions of the cities, is still lying under their foundation. Hidden but yet vivid, deep inside the consciousness. Looking further, Labirinto can be the metaphor of the current sociopolitical situation of all Europe, where newcomers from other continents are seeking for asylum and acceptance. The fear of locals (who might have been migrants too) remains, and politics don't promote reconciliation. The policy of fear enables the authorities to seize the control of population's thoughts and define the enemy.

The works of Wiktoria Wojciechowska are juxtaposing the fascist architecture - undefined corners of streets, scattered walls, and remains of fascist sculptural iconography - and the portraits of recently arrived migrants. As they wander through a temporarily deserted city, occupying the scene of a petrified ideology, the public space, they reveal a striking contrast with this ideology embodied in the architecture.
 

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August Sander
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1876 | † 1964
August Sander (17 November 1876 – 20 April 1964) was a German portrait and documentary photographer. Sander's first book Face of our Time (German: Antlitz der Zeit) was published in 1929. Sander has been described as "the most important German portrait photographer of the early twentieth century." Sander was born in Herdorf, the son of a carpenter working in the mining industry. While working at a local mine, Sander first learned about photography by assisting a photographer who was working for a mining company. With financial support from his uncle, he bought photographic equipment and set up his own darkroom. He spent his military service (1897–99) as a photographer's assistant and the next years wandering across Germany. In 1901, he started working for a photo studio in Linz, Austria, eventually becoming a partner (1902), and then its sole proprietor (1904). He left Linz at the end of 1909 and set up a new studio in Cologne. In 1911, Sander began with the first series of portraits for his work People of the 20th Century. In the early 1920s, he came in contact with the Group of Progressive Artists (Kölner Progressive) in Cologne, a group as Wieland Schmied put it, "sought to combine constructivism and objectivity, geometry and object, the general and the particular, avant-garde conviction and political engagement, and which perhaps approximated most to the forward looking of New Objectivity [...] ". In 1927, Sander and writer Ludwig Mathar travelled through Sardinia for three months, where he took around 500 photographs. However, a planned book detailing his travels was not completed. Sander's Face of our Time was published in 1929. It contains a selection of 60 portraits from his series People of the 20th Century. Under the Nazi regime, his work and personal life were greatly constrained. His son Erich, who was a member of the left wing Socialist Workers' Party (SAP), was arrested in 1934 and sentenced to 10 years in prison, where he died in 1944, shortly before the end of his sentence. Sander's book Face of our Time was seized in 1936 and the photographic plates destroyed. Around 1942, during World War II, he left Cologne and moved to a rural area, allowing him to save most of his negatives. His studio was destroyed in a 1944 bombing raid. Sander died in Cologne in 1964. His work includes landscape, nature, architecture, and street photography, but he is best known for his portraits, as exemplified by his series People of the 20th Century. In this series, he aims to show a cross-section of society during the Weimar Republic. The series is divided into seven sections: The Farmer, The Skilled Tradesman, Woman, Classes and Professions, The Artists, The City, and The Last People (homeless persons, veterans, etc.). By 1945, Sander's archive included over 40,000 images. In 2002, the August Sander Archive and scholar Susanne Lange published a seven-volume collection comprising some 650 of Sander's photographs, August Sander: People of the 20th Century. In 2008, the Mercury crater Sander was named after him. (Source: wikipedia.org)
Chris Steele-Perkins
United Kingdom
1947
At the age of two, Chris Steele-Perkins moved to England from Burma with his father. He went to school at Christ's Hospital. At the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, he studied psychology and worked for the student newspaper; he graduated with honors in 1970 and started to work as a freelance photographer, moving to London in 1971. Apart from a trip to Bangladesh in 1973, he worked mainly in Britain in areas concerned with urban poverty and subcultures. In 1975 he worked with EXIT, a collective dealing with social problems in British cities. This involvement culminated in the book Survival Programmes in 1982. He joined the Paris-based Viva agency in 1976. In 1979 he published his first solo book, The Teds; he also edited the Arts Council of Great Britain's book, About 70 Photographs. Steele-Perkins joined Magnum Photos in 1979 and soon began working extensively in the developing world, in particular in Africa, Central America and Lebanon, as well as continuing to take photographs in Britain: The Pleasure Principle explores Britain in the 1980s. In 1992 he published Afghanistan, the result of four trips over four years. After marrying his second wife, Miyako Yamada, he embarked on a long-term photographic exploration of Japan, publishing Fuji in 2000. A highly personal diary of 2001, Echoes, was published in 2003, and the second of his Japanese books, Tokyo Love Hello, in March 2007. He continues to work in Britain, documenting rural life in County Durham, which was published as Northern Exposures in 2007. In 2009 he published a collection of work from 40 years of photographing England - England, My England. A new book, on British centenarians, Fading Light will be published at the end of July. Steele-Perkins has two sons, Cedric, born 16th November 1990, and Cameron, born 18th June 1992. With his marriage to Miyako Yamada he has a stepson, Daisuke and a grand-daughter, Momoe. Source Magnum Photos
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