Last year I got invited to show one of my photographs in the two year exhibition ‘A Window To The World’ at Altes Spital Viechtach and then Bahnhof Kötzting, two concert places in two little towns in the Southeast of Germany.
A Window To The World – The premise
We would like to present every month one photograph in the space for a duration of one month. This photo should represent the photographer or at least giving an indication into a photographer’s work. Little, but efficient and remarkable.
Thereby every shown image should be treated in the same way. Each image will be shown in the same frame with the same window mount. But due to that, it’s individuality will be highlighted.
The frame will be small. 30 cm x 30 cm, the picture in itself (depending if it is square or rectangle) 10 x 10 cm or 10 x 15 cm. Tiny so to say. But that is important, because it is just a window to the world and should not replace your way of showing your work.
The presentation will be on and offline. In the space, local newspaper, on the webpage, in the gallery space. First individually, after a while together with all the other ones.
Much later we will do a group show, with the collection of images. During that exhibition, the image will be sold in an auction. The money, if nothing else is said by the artist, will go to the artist.
And of course… the copyright always stays with the artist. We just need the permission for printing one image and for presenting it on – and offline for project related work.
I took this picture in Kyrgyzstan in 2003. I was there for a summer program organized by DAAD to learn about Kyrgyz language and culture. But instead of getting me excited about the Kyrgyz language, the program inspired me to start learning Russian. Instead of teaching us much about Kyrgyz culture it taught me much more about the structures and ways German and other international organizations work in small remote countries like Kyrgyzstan.
The program was called Go East and its intention was to bring the East and West closer together. But did it really? The local students we met spoke German perfectly, without ever having been to Germany and with hardly any chances of ever being granted a visa to go to Germany. At least that is what the German vice ambassador told us. She was depressed, having to represent and advertise a country that doesn’t actually want the people it is advertising to.
All the foreigners living in Kyrgyzstan seemed to meet at the local German beerhall. And all money coming in seemed to be distributed amongst these foreigners and their businesses right there. Over a beer or many more, they made friends and business, instead of giving the money to the local communities or entrepreneurs it might have been intended for.
This picture was taken at a camp near Issyk-Kul, the biggest lake in Kyrgyzstan. It shows a group of German students doing yoga at the camp site, in front of the yurts we were sleeping in. The German company that organized the camp charged 5 Euros per person per night. The local family that cooked for us three times a day was given 5 Euros to feed a group of 20 people a whole week.
Why did I chose this picture? Because it is absurd. None of it fits and it tells a whole lot at the same time. People facing inward when they should be looking out. It’s a mismatch.
We left the camp after that yoga session, paying off the family for their services and threatening to sue the program if they kept putting us in exploitative situations where Germans are the only ones that profit.
When I take pictures I like to point out these kinds of mismatches and absurdities. Showing the things that you least expect. Beauty in forms and contrasts. The inside facing the outside. The hidden finding its way out and similarities that the uninformed would not think possible.