Photoshop Adbusting

Posted in Adbusting, Berlin, Street Art by Rollfilm on February 5, 2009



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Humanism in China

Posted in Berlin, Books, China, Exhibition, Photography by Rollfilm on June 10, 2007

Shadows of the East

Article by Tilman Spengler on [1]

In a bleak upland region in central China two cheerful women walk out of a cave, above whose entrance a large sign proclaims “Fashion Store”. On a branch of the Yangtze River village children stand up to their hips in the freezing cold water dangling souvenirs on the ends of long bamboo poles, hoping to attract the custom of the tourists on the passing excursion boat. A group of six blind story-tellers is led over a stony mountain pass in the north-east. Curious onlookers hiding behind their sunglasses crowd round the two victims of a traffic accident. A happy, exhausted mother breast-feeds her triplets.Those are just five images out of almost 600 photographs from the People’s Republic of China that went on show on May 20 at the Museum of Modern Art in Frankfurt. This is a reproduction of an exhibition that first opened three years ago in Guangzhou before moving on to Shanghai and Beijing. In the original show 250 Chinese photographers showed works covering the past 50 years; the curators had a total of 100,000 photographs to choose from.

Now the photo show with the unusual name – the original version was also called “Humanism in China” – has landed in Frankfurt for its first stop in Germany. It will go on to Stuttgart, Munich, Dresden and Berlin, whose museums have also made a major contribution to the work of bringing the documentary pictures over to Germany. Visitors will be grateful, for nowhere in any other contemporary exhibition has it been possible to get closer to the ordinary life of the nation that makes up a quarter of the world’s population.

The term “humanism” in its current Chinese form made its way into the cosmos of Chinese thought as a rather lonely stowaway in a Japanese translation of Schopenhauer: “The belief that mankind is the root”. Of course today, when Chinese people speak about what we in the West would define as “humanism” they find their own idioms and metaphors, where Schopenhauer’s role is naturally only a subsidiary one. So how did the courageous curators in Canton come up with this term? Two simple thoughts perhaps hold the key. “Humanism” has, as already mentioned, the premise that “mankind is the root”. The decisive thing here is the idea of the root. The word “capitalism”, which radiates a so much bigger promise in today’s China, accordingly means “The belief that capital is the root”.

Every Chinese person, if you will excuse the exaggeration for a moment, thinks in signs, in the characters of his culture. “Capitalism” and “humanism” are only a single character apart. Man against capital. A blind storyteller being led over the mountain pass will understand that, as will a mother trying to breast-feed triplets – as will even an onlooker staring through his shades at a victim on the road.

The semantic ballistics of the word “humanism” can, however, also be understood through the prism of the country’s most recent history. The “brightest lighthouse that ever appeared as a character on a Chinese screen”, as one prominent documentary film called him, Chairman Mao, staged an ideological battle against the “spirit of bourgeois humanism” shortly before launching the Cultural Revolution. Any intellectual who was able to imagine that passion, fear, violence, joy and compassion did not necessarily have to be the direct fruit of correct (or “false”) socialist consciousness, and was able to express those thoughts, was put through the mill – if not by choice then by compulsion.

Today – bearing China’s scarcely healed modern history in mind – anyone who brings up the word “humanism” is also evoking the socialist campaign that almost forty years ago led to the eradication of “humanist” culture in the name of socialism, or the no less devastating attack in the name of capital that began fifteen years ago. In both cases, it is important for posterity to record what made the two women so happy on their way out of the “Fashion Store” cave, and what souvenirs the tourists in the boat took with them. And what stories the blind men are going to tell after they have been led over the mountain pass.

Glücklicher Gewinner der Wohlfahrtslotterie - Liu Dewang

Fuhrwerk, Lastwagen und ein zur Landung ansetzendes Flugzeug - Wu Jialin

Ein Soldat verabschiedet sich von seiner Frau und seinem Kind, die ihn besucht haben und heimkehren - Feng Jianxin

Fischer vom Zhelang Fischereihafen - Zhang Jianguo
picture source: [2]

[1] article: Tilman Spengler on

[2] photos:

[3] catalogue: “Humanism in China

[4] exhib. in Berlin: “Museum for Photography” – 4May-8July 2007

Weegee in Berlin – Photographs from the Berinson Collection

Posted in America, Berlin, Exhibition, New York, Photography, Weegee by Rollfilm on April 7, 2007

C|O Berlin is presenting “Weegee‘s story” in the Postfuhramt Berlin.

[photo International Center of Photography Midtown

Photographs from the Berinson Collection

24.02. to 06.05.07

Guided tour 15.04.07 . 3 pm

Weegee’s photographs have an immediate, almost violent impact: they are uncompromising, unprettified. His subjects are criminals, the homeless, accident victims and the assassinated, people on the edges of existence – but also include lovers, people on daytrips and people attending jazz clubs, variety shows and cinemas. The pictures are unique historic documents of everyday life and of the chaos and catastrophes in the New York of the 1930s and 1940s.

Weegee, whose real name was Arthur Fellig, was born in 1899 in Zloczow near Lemberg, Galicia (present-day Zolochiv, Ukraine) and died in New York in 1968. He is the prototype of the modern photojournalist and one of the most important photographers in the 20th century. From 1935 onwards, he worked as a freelance police reporter, adopting the ironic moniker Weegee the Famous. In the mid-1940s, he gave up photoreporting and turned to advertising photography for a variety of magazines such as Life, Look and Vogue, and became a photo caricaturist and a producer of short films.

Gallery-owner and collector Hendrik A. Berinson has compiled over a 20-year period the single most important and most extensive collection of Weegees work. C/O Berlin presents the first comprehensive showing of Weegee’s work in Berlin, including more than 220 black-and-white exclusively vintage prints and of videos by and about Weegee.

C|O Berlin website

Weegee Collection - Simply Add Boiling Water.

Weegee Collection - Summer, The Lower East Side, 1937.

Weegee Collection - Crowd at Coney Island, 1940.

Weegee Collection - New Year's Eve at Sammy's-on -the-Bowery, 1943.

Weegee Collection - Two Offenders in the Paddy Wagon.

[photos] Side Photographic Gallery

Brassai Retrospective in Berlin

Posted in Art, Berlin, Brassai, Exhibition, History of Photography, Photography, Retrospective by Rollfilm on March 25, 2007

Brassaï (1899–1984)
A Major Retrospective
Venue: Martin-Gropius-Bau
9 March to 28 May 2007

Brassaï, who was born in 1899 in what was then the Hungarian town of Brassó, emigrated in 1920 to Berlin, where he studied at the Academy of Art in Charlottenburg and got to know artists such as Wassily Kandinsky, Oskar Kokoschka and László Moholy-Nagy. In 1924 he moved to Paris, where he began his career not as a photographer but as a journalist working mainly for German-language magazines. His friend André Kertész took photos to accompany his articles. It was his journalistic work that eventually led him to photography.

During this time he also took an interest in literature and sculpture. In Paris in 1932 he adopted the pseudonym of Brassaï, derived from the name of his home town.

The same year Brassaï published “Paris by Night”, a book that made him world-famous. The Museum of Modern Art in New York included his work in an exhibition entitled “Photography: 1839-1937”. Using a Voigtländer camera, he was one of the first to master the art of night-time photography.


From: Berliner Festspiele: Martin-Gropius-Bau, Brassaï (1899–1984)

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More Brassai photographs