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Human Impact
Sicherheit und Gesellschaft

26 October 2019 – 1 December 2019

Opening on Friday 25 October at 8 p.m.

in the context of f2 Fotofestival Dortmund
(07/11 – 24/11/2019)

How much security do we need? How insecure do we feel? What external circumstances affect our sense of security and insecurity?
The exhibition Human Impact - Security and Society deals with these questions. Five different positions show that our perception is to be deceived individually, that our feelings are exposed to a constant uncertainty and that we can be pushed out of our comfort zone from one moment to the next.
The conditions of social reality leave their mark on contemporary photography. Images from crisis zones contrast with images of imagined emergencies, photographic reconstructions meet visits to crime scenes, historical relics of violence and war meet images of victims.
In a world shaped by the media, fake and lie have become omnipresent as sisters of photography. And yet photography still takes on a documentary attitude that seeks to preserve what has happened and/or warn of the consequences.
The exhibition shows various photographic attitudes, from this documentary approach to a serial paraphrase of the history of photography. The range of attitudes towards the subjects reflects the coping strategies with which the individual encounters the various threats and uncertainties. This applies not only to the photographic individuals, but also to all of us as observers.

Cortis & Sonderegger
David Farrell
Andrea Gjestvang
Danila Tkachenko


Events accompanying the exhibition:

Thursday, 7/11 at 7 p.m.

Opening f2 photo festival at the cultural location Depot

Saturday, 9/11 from 8 to 12 p.m.

Festival-Party with DJane Frau Gelmann

Sunday 17 and 24/11 at 4 p.m.

Curator tours

Sunday, 1/12 at 6 p.m.

Finissage & curator tour

Cortis & Sonderegger

Making of „AS11-40-5878“ (by Edwin Aldrin, 1969), 2014, from »Icons«

For their series Icons the German-Swiss artist duo Cortis & Sonderegger has since 2013 reconstructed iconic pictures from photo history as three-dimensional dioramas in the studio. They subsequently photograph the models and the pictures emerging from that process seem to be the spitting image of the originals.

The illusion is spoiled however by showing the studio setting and traces of the work process within the frame. Scenes deeply ingrained in our collective memory – like the burning Twin Towers, Robert Capa’s falling militiaman in the Spanish Civil War, or Stuart Franklin’s “tank man” on Tian’anmen square, awarded in the 1990 World Press Photo contest – now rise from a clutter of stands, soft boxes, stanley knives and the remnants of model kits.

Icons is at once a tribute to the history of photography, a witty appropriation of its figureheads and – by staging both motif and the surrounding studio – an exploration of how the medium works. In a time when people wave about with so-called alternative facts on too many occasions, the pictures by Cortis & Sonderegger incite reflection on the fragile truth of photography, the relation between authenticity and construction and the importance of context and point of view. (Text: WestLicht Schauplatz für Fotografie, Berlin)

David Farrell

from »Innocent Landscapes«

This work on the sites of the disappeared began in 1999. It was Initiated like many projects by going and looking at something and simply feeling something. In terms of truths it has a contested history – IRA truths versus family truths. Therefore as a series it has a specific narrative that I feel must be acknowledged each time it is exhibited, but there is an aspiration that the images can be read on a wider level in terms of mortality and our relationship with ‘earth’ as a storehouses of facts, fictions and memories.

During the 1970’s and early ‘80’s a small group of people went missing during the conflict in Northern Ireland. They were a fragmented group back then with each disappearance a unique family tragedy. When the IRA finally admitted in 1999 ‘the killing and secret burial’ of ten people they finally coalesced into what is now commonly referred to as the disappeared.
This initial list of people (bar one), were all Northern Irish Catholics who had been disappeared by the IRA in a policing of the movement and the wider catholic community. The final twist in this long wait for truth was that all the people named had been exiled in death and were buried at various locations South of the border in the Republic of Ireland. This initial list of people and specific locations brought heartbreak and relief – some missing people were not on that first official list but in recent years it has expanded to include those omitted initially.

Innocent Landscapes when published in 2001 explored searches of the Irish Landscape that were carried out in 1999 and 2000. Only three remains were found during this process and at that point the digs were deemed concluded. The locations in being mostly bogs are classical tropes of the Irish landscape and are culturally significant in that they are repositories of memory, mythologies and folklore. They are spectral places and they slowly but surely haunted me.

In between the searches of 1999 and 2000 the excavated landscapes began to recover quite quickly making even evidence of the searches disappear. This seemed an appropriate metaphor and mirror of the killers’ intentions - that voracious nature would remove all trace of the people involved. I decided to observe and record this process by making a series of re-visits over the following years. It was during this process that I subsequently discovered that the searches had re-commenced in 2007 but were now being carried out by forensic archaeologists rather than policemen. This new process was more considered, somewhat like examining a movie frame by frame. Sites were re-examined and often excavated over a period of a year, sometimes with months of drainage as preparation. In some locations piles of sifted and dispersed memory dotted the landscape before being returned to flatness. I would visit each location most weekends during these searches, following the slow unfolding of each landscape as I felt compelled to replicate the dedication and repetition of excavation by a similar photographic act. As a result the project has become quite enormous with each location now producing significant bodies of work. I often think of the folklore of the ‘un-publishable’ Pittsburgh project by Eugene Smith.

Their representation is also a challenge in terms of avoiding a purely picturesque representation. This is a common dilemma when approaching the landscape photographically in a fine art practice. So while one makes allusions in certain directions by working with certain conventions most of the time one is trying to subvert this by the use of metaphor and by a certain tough beauty. Aesthetically, this often involves puncturing an apparently serene or typical landscape depiction with jarring elements often in a subtle questioning way. Very often the landscape is abstracted to some extent by removal or repositioning of the horizon in order to create a certain tension within the image.

This new process of searching has, more often than not, revealed remains but occasionally it was unsuccessful and yet not without further revelations. Small Acts of Memory (unpublished) explores the renewed search at Coghalstown Wood Wilkinstown for Seamus Wright and Kevin McKee and follows this process through four seasons of looking from 2009-2010. No remains were located after this prolonged search but in 2015 while searching in an adjacent field for Joe Lynskey, who had been recently formally added to the list, the remains of Kevin and Seamus were located. This brought to mind a question I often had during all those years - was I with my so-called photographic truth photographing a big lie?

At the time of writing there are 16 people now officially listed as disappeared of which 13 remains have been recovered. New searches are initiated if further credible information surfaces but closure may yet elude some families who go on waiting for ghosts to reappear as the living memory of that period recedes. (David Farrell)

Andrea Gjestvang

from »One Day in History«

Combining photographic portraits and testimony, One Day in History concerns the experiences and the thoughts of 43 young people who survived the terror attack at the Labor Party youth camp on Utøya Island, outside Oslo on 22 July 2011. Published the year after the events, the project captures a moment in time in which the memories of what happened were still very raw.


from »The Black Swan«

On August 24, 2016 the German government released a statement that recommends all German citizens to store food and water for at least 10 days. At the same time the terror attacks in France, Belgium and most recently in Germany have created a feeling of general insecurity.
The fear of terror is widespread and growing, although according to the Global Terror Database, the number of terrorist attacks in Europe has been in decline since the 1970s.

Against this background, photographers Hahn+Hartung have been researching how people prepare for any kind of crisis or catastrophies. The so-called »preppers« stash food, some built bomb-shelters, many of them own weapons. Additionally, the photographers investigated how the government is preparing the country for extreme situations. (Hahn+Hartung)

Danila Tkachenko

from »Restricted Areas«

The project Restricted Areas is about the human impulse towards utopia, about our striving for perfection through technological progress.
Humans are always trying to own ever more than they have – this is the source of technical progress. The byproducts of this progress are various commodities as well as the tools of violence in order to hold power over others. Better, higher, stronger – these ideals often express the main ideology of governments. To achieve these standards, governments are ready to sacrifice almost everything. Meanwhile, the individual is supposed to become a tool for reaching these goals. In exchange, the individual is promised a higher level of comfort.

For Restricted Areas, Tkachenko traveled in search of places which used to hold great importance for the idea of technological progress. These places are now deserted. They have lost their significance, along with their utopian ideology which is now obsolete. Many of these places were once secret cities, that did not appear on any maps or public records. These places were the sites of forgotten scientific triumphs, abandoned buildings of almost inhuman complexity. The perfect technocratic future that never came. Any progress comes to its end earlier or later and it can happen for different reasons—nuclear war, economic crisis, natural disaster. Interesting for the photographer was to witness what remains after the progress has ground to a halt. (Danila Tkachenko)

Organisation: Jens Sundheim, Peter Schmieder
Images works: © the artists
Photos opening / exhibition view: © Hannes Woidich, Jens Sundheim

Kindly supported by: Kulturbüro Dortmund, Sparkasse Dortmund, DEW 21