The Body Politic: Contemporary photography from Austria

According to the publicity material:

The Body Politic highlights the strength and diversity of contemporary photography in Austria. The work reflects the concerns of five established and emerging photographic talents

This exhibition is taking place in the Photography Gallery, Meting House Square, Dublin.

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I had not heard of any of the five photographers. Three were exhibiting on the first floor and two on the second. I did not read the publicity material about the artists before I viewed the exhibition. I did not want to know which of the artists were established and which were the emerging photographers.

Ulrike Lienbacher asked models, both male and female, to pose in, what she described as typical model poses. The catch was that they were dressed in normal outfits. I thought this was incredibly effective as one would not have given a second glance at these images in a glossy magazine. Is it true that “the clothes maketh the man“?

My first impression of the three photographers exhibiting on the first floor was that the images were ‘ordinary’. I needed to read what they were ‘about’.

I was drawn to a collage of works by Ulrike Lienbacher. The blurb says the work was spurred by her interest in feminism. She used models, both male and female, and asked them to adopt typical poses that they would use in professional photo shoots. The difference was that they were wearing ‘normal’ clothes. The collage she created was interesting.

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The title of Erwin Polnac’s series of images is “8820 +/-“ which at first reading is a little confusing until one realises it is the postcode for the village. Neumarkt in Austria, where Polnac grew up. The + and – represent the neighbouring villages which are also becoming de-populated. Polnac said Neumarky was a difficult place to grow up, difficult to find oneself is how he expressed it. He did not want to depict touristic images of his native village so he “worked his way into the village by the back door”. He certainly achieved his purpose. The images are fairly stark. However I did not get the feeling of desolation or indeed of de-population. For this I would have expected abandoned houses or schools.

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Christopher Mavric entitled his collection “Wildfriend (Totally Strangers). I do not know why but I had no lasting impression of these images. They made no impact on me. I am really interested in Street Photography but despite the blub saying his images were ‘live and unstaged’. These people were not doing anything nor were they behaving in an interesting way. His images could have been of his aunts..

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Stephanie Moshammer’s work entitled “Young Gods” was, for me, the most appealing of the five photographers. Her subjects, on the cusp of adulthood, were bursting with energy.

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I missed the fifth photographer altogether.

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