Daniel Seiffert and Iveta Vaivode. “Retracing Memory”, 02.10 — 31.10

Iveta Vaivode. “Untitled”, from the series “Somewhere on disappearing path”, 2012-2013

Places and ways of life disappear. Nothing is forever. Frequently caused by past political and economic upheavals, a slow, scarcely stoppable decline of whole regions is occurring in a very short space of time. Following the collapse of communism at the end of the 20th century, Europe has restructured itself to such an extent that some areas are experiencing a boom while others seem left in a forgotten era. How does the population in these provinces deal with the new situation? Who leaves, who stays? What is preserved and conserved? Which memories are still alive? Prompted by personal experiences, the young photographers Iveta Vaivode and Daniel Seiffert document remote areas of Europe in their photographic series – Pilcene in Latvia and Lübbenau in East Germany. They both follow the traces of a state of uncertainty; a vacuum of standstill and retreat that renounces any belief in progress and at the same time develops its own unique strength due to a certain timelessness.

Iveta Vaivode journeys to the home of her own family, in which she herself has never been before. It is a visual excursion to the generation of her grandparents and at the same time into both the unfamiliar and the familiar, a journey the photographer undertakes at regular intervals – without a pre-conceived sequence or formal criteria but merely with an open, curious gaze. In this way, an ethnological, long-term study in this remote region of Europe is created from the individual, quiet portraits, peaceful interiors and poetic landscape photographs. In an age that is constantly accelerating, the exotic and the unfamiliar is found in the direct neighbourhood.In his series, on the other hand, Daniel Seiffert visualizes the fascinating, simultaneous interaction of youthfulness versus decline. For more than a year he has documented the way of life of teenagers in Lübbenau, whose personal development is contrary, if not opposing, to that of their environment. Daniel Seiffert shows how the adolescents take possession of this small town by day and by night. How they come together alone or in groups to spend their free time in the skate park, at bus stops, the park and in the playgrounds of the so-called “Plattenbau” buildings. How they infuse abandoned industrial ruins – so called faceless non-places – with new meaning, not least because they spend their time here and mark the walls with their tags.

Iveta Vaivode and Daniel Seiffert had to win the closeness to the protagonists, as well as their trust and openness, little by little. It is only as a result of their careful, sensitive approach that they have succeed in gaining the rare view inside a closed community in the tradition of classical documentary photographers such as Josef Koudelka, Joakim Eskildsen, Walker Evans and Robert Frank. The camera is a door opener and prompts human encounters and hence for Iveta Vaivode and Daniel Seiffert photography is extremely subjective. As opposed to purely documentary photography, here the work is about the authors themselves and not about individual activities or events. In their series both artists extend the medium of photography and its portrayal of reality in order to express their own visions and imagination. Hence photography is here not just a method of capturing something in order to remember it later, but in addition a conscious act of questioning the mechanisms of memory ranging from reception to construction.

Ann-Christin Bertrand

02.10 — 31.10
“CECH” Art Space, Hangar
Curator Ann-Christin Bertrand

Kastryčnickaja Str, 16
12:00 – 22:00, daily
Single ticket for all the exhibitions at “CECH” Art Space ― 50 000. School children, students and retirees ― 25 000. Free entrance for children under 10 years old.

“CECH” Art Space, Hangar, 19:00

The “C/O Berlin” Gallery curator Ann-Christin Bertrand guides a tour through the exhibiton “Retracing Memory”
“CECH” Art Space, Hangar, 19:30
Free entrance