Heidelberger Kunstverein

4. Fotofestival Mannheim_Ludwigshafen_Heidelberg

10 Sep - 06 Nov 2011

© Jacob Holdt
10 September - 6 November 2011

The 4th edition of the Fotofestival focuses on the role of photography as it bears witness to the human condition at the dawn of the second decade of the 21st century. It poses questions such as: How would a portrait of humankind look like in 2011? What are some of the key issues and challenges facing humanity today? How is contemporary photography able to generate knowledge and social awareness? The Heidelberger Kunstverein is one in seven exhibition venues of the Fotofestival and presents the exhibition Life Cycles.

Life Cycles unfolds as a photographic testimony of insights into all the stages of life from birth to coming of age, adulthood, old age, and death. Although part of a commonly experienced sense of humanity, liberating moments of love, laughter, pleasure and sharing, as well as questions of struggle, mourning and loss are experienced with great difference in diverse cultures.

A lifecycle represents the existential curve from birth to death and the trajectory of an individual existence between the two. Yet, if life can be perceived as a cycle, albeit a linear and finite one, then becoming, decay, and oblivion are part and parcel of this inexorable process. The photographs in Life Cycles capture and cut through the existential moments of biographical importance that impact upon and eventually constitute our subjective experience of the world and the deeper bliss or painful hardships of life. They allude to the ephemeral nature as well as the material and physical consequences of the passage of time. This exhibition venue therefore showcases the classical symbolic manifestations of the movement of life from one state to another: rites of passage such as wedding ceremonies or burial practices, for example. It also provides insight into the different conditions that human beings are subjected to in various stages of life and explores how these appear as a photographic testimonies: from the amateur family album to the carefully staged portrait.

We are today experiencing great shifts in attitudes towards aging. This is in part due to a neoliberal biopolitical order that privileges the concept of youth as a primary societal value. One could call this ‘the ageist age of anti-aging’, a time in which we seem to be in denial of our progressive decay and inevitable entropy. Although aging is a natural part of the cycle of life it is now, more often than not, perceived in a negative light, particularly in countries where consumerism is a driving force in propagating the myth of eternal beauty and youth. Youth, and in particular teenagers (a concept invented only fifty years ago) have become marketable commodities and are incessantly being exploited by the global media corporations. The notion of ‘lifestyle’ is a key concept in understanding how consumption is propagated, staged and sold micro-politically in many capitalist countries.

Life Cycles, which can be considered to be the exhibition’s epilogue, serves as the final and indeed contemporary ‘punctum’ which cuts through the visual consciousness of the cycle of life.

The 4th edition of the Fotofestival Mannheim_Ludwigshafen_Heidelberg is curated by Katerina Gregos and Solvej Ovesen.

Mac Adams, Köken Ergun, Simon Fujiwara, Agnès Geoffray, Jacob Holdt, Rinko Kawauchi, Panos Kokkinias, Heta Kuchka, Ryan McGinley, Barbara Metselaar Berthold, Boris Mikhailov, Torbjørn Rødland, Jeremy Shaw, Fiona Tan

Tags: Mac Adams, Köken Ergun, Simon Fujiwara, Agnès Geoffray, Rinko Kawauchi, Ryan McGinley, Boris Mikhailov, Torbjørn Rødland, Jeremy Shaw, Fiona Tan