Critical Margins: German photography crossing, cultures, continents and Chilean preconceptions

Thought provoking, self reflective, barrier breaking, challenging and confusing were the journey of words that your mind took when entering Márgenes Criticos, the photography exhibition recently held at Estación Mapocho through the beginning of May.

Santiago Chile
Photo courtesy Ivonne Thein

The works of Verena Jaekel, Ivonne Thein and Wolfram Hahn dominated the small gallery space as a collection of documental portraits. They challenged the viewer to accept, reconsider and understand the ignorance, naivety and denial of social realities that exist in every day life.

Santiago Chile
Photo courtesy Wolfram Hahn

Society takes a melancholy turn in the work by Wolfram Hahn titled "Kaffee Bankrott 2007." The portraits are neither grotesque nor bad natured; just six portraits of six men captured in the spaces in which they live. Nevertheless there is something uneasy, awkward, vulnerable and uncomfortable about the subjects.

Their habitats are sparse and lack personality as if the subjects do not live there at all. The essence of togetherness and family values are far from the minds of the photographed subjects, causing an examination of the differences between independence and loneliness and the essence of belonging.

At first look, the photographs entitled “New Family Portraits” by Verena Jaekal appear as enlarged snaps taken from a family portrait album. At a second glance the reaction is different; these are families that cross borders and challenge our preconceptions of the family unit.

Santiago Chile
Photo courtesy Verena Jaekel

A series of six families of different races and cultures –gay, lesbian or single parents and their children—stare back at the viewer. The families stand united as icons of acceptance, social challenge and reconsiderations of ‘normal’ family life.

Verena’s work sparks an interest and understanding on many different levels. “Nice family photos,’’ “immigrant families’’ and “I think it’s wrong,’’ were just a range of comments from the viewing public that demonstrated the misconceptions of the collection and the strong reactions it is able to provoke.

Verena herself explains how “the main idea of the concept of family was to confuse the viewer, to make them aware, in an un-sensational way about the difficulties of being a little different in society.”

A little further along visitors encountered the beautiful yet disturbing series “32 Grams” by Ivonne Thein. Six photographs hung on the wall supporting the delicate female body frames featured within them. Each figure appears so frail that if it wasn’t for the absence of background detail, the body would almost become enveloped by the picture itself.

Santiago Chile
Photo courtesy Ivonne Thein

The painfully thin limbs cut the plane of the surface with juxtapositions of shapes to create depth and contrast. The genius of the photographs, as explained by the exhibition curator, Montserrat Rojas, is that the subjects are not anorexic at all. The girls in fact are products of digital enhancement and computer alteration. Photographs layered with issues that lie beneath the surface; anorexia, digital enhancement, perceptions of beauty and social pressures of contemporary society.

Márgenes Criticos unveiled the very examples of the misconceived, misrepresented and disrespected, of those who exist within the boundaries of our ‘cultured’ society.

Margenes Criticos
Ended May 2, 2010
Estacion Mapocho
Plaza de la cultura s/n
Metro: Cal y canto (line 2)
Telephone: 56 (2) 787 00 00
Fax: 56 (2) 787 00 27

Curator Montserrat Rojas Corradi

IFA Colaboradores
HP Gronetot auspiciadores
Gothe I Colaboradores

Exhibiting Artists:
Verena Jaekel:
Ivonne Thein:
Wolfram Hahn:

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