A photographic goldmine in Berlin

A photographic goldmine in Berlin

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Jane Hardjono takes a peep inside C/O Berlin, the German capital’s first photography gallery, which is currently celebrating its tenth anniversary.

Berlin’s first photography gallery, C/O Berlin was established only 10 years ago. Tired of waiting for the authorities to open one, a small group of enthusiasts took the initiative themselves. They chose an old post office, which despite its decrepitude inside, magnificently houses its photographic goldmine. The exhibition we went to see celebrates this ten-year anniversary by presenting more than 200 works of the photojournalism agency, MAGNUM Photos: Magnum – Shifting Media – New Role of Photography was a tribute to the founders.

The premature deaths-in-the-field of Robert Capa and David “Chim” Seymour remind us grimly of the work the people in this business are dedicated to. At the current exhibition you will glimpse the roots of photojournalism, as well as gather insight into the photography world of today. The exhibition covers a range of young photographers worldwide including Christopher Anderson, Jonas Bendiksen, Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Antoine D’Agata, Thomas Dworzak, Alex Majoli, Trent Parke, Paolo Pellegrin, George Roger, David Seymour, Alec Soth, Mikhael Subotzky, Ilkka Uimonen, Peter van Agtmal and Donovan Wylie.

According to the exhibition notes, “Photograph’s use in the media is a phenomenon of extraordinary importance: it has radically transformed how the masses see, and has opened a window to the world. Photography has ushered in a new age of visual mass media – both in a humanist enlightenment sense, and as a powerful instrument of propaganda and manipulation.”


The visions by Trent Parke in particular struck me. He encapsulates the desolation often experienced by the visitor when travelling through rural and urban Australia – saturated, intense colours of landscape are strangely complemented by man-made signage. What’s real? Jonas Bendiksen’s investigation of Russian villagers who make a living from collecting scrap metal from falling rockets and the impact of this weird set-up on the environment is reflected in the strangely beautiful book, Satellites.

The Dossier believes that Eindhoven, the city where I currently reside in the Netherlands, needs a photography gallery too. One cannot help but be inspired by the industry and entrepreneurship of Berliners. Eindhoven (inadvertently or intentionally, who knows?) models itself on patterns to be found everywhere in Berlin – we too have the abandoned buildings (see the brilliant Berlin blog Adaptive Reuse) and designer hairstyles. Of course Eindhoven is small fry compared to the intense cold and dark heritage of Berlin, but yeah, the concept of hergebruik (adaptive reuse) is no stranger to the Dutch artists … and my hairdresser’s staff (Faces) frequently pop eastwards to Berlin for hair cut and colour refresher courses. That’s a start!


As well as writing about her travels, blogger Jane Hardjono writes her views life in Eindhoven, the Netherlands on the blog  thedossier.nl 

Further information on photographic gallery C/O Berlin:

C/O Berlin
Oranienburger Strasse 35/36
10117 Berlin-Mitte
Exhibition – MAGNUM . Shifting Media . New Role of Photography
From Robert Capa to Donovan Wylie
16 July to 19 September 2010


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