Elfie Semotan has been revolutionizing fashion and advertising photography since the 1960s. First as a model, then as a photographer whose portraits of prominent personalities from the cultural scene, as well as her collaborations with Helmut Lang, have made her world-famous. But above all, she mastered the art of telling stories through photographs, producing images that look like film stills, telling a story that goes beyond what can be seen, or creating relationships to icons or art history.
In June, Hatje Cantz will release Contradiction, Semotan’s first monograph.
Semotan’s revealing advertising and fashion photography for Lang, and for magazines such as Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Interview, The New Yorker, and Vogue created a new photographic aesthetic. Semotan is known for her use of open space and for asserting her own feminine perspective in a profession that was long dominated by men. Indeed, Semotan recognizes the work she’s had to do to be heard in the fashion industry. She writes, “Today people listen to me because I have something to say. Before, people listened to me because they liked looking at me.”
A retrospective exhibition, also called Contradiction, will open at C/O Berlin on June 7, 2019. It is the first extensive show outside of Austria to honor Semotan’s work. The exhibition and Hatje Cantz publication present a cross-section of the photographer’s multifaceted oeuvre.
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