The first photograph in this slideshow accompanied by the question What’s Next? lured me into a building on a side street in Perpignan. Inside I found one of the of this years most sublime exhibitions.
What’s Next? is an exhibition of work from students from the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Hanover. Nine students work is presented and together it offers a cross section of typical works to emerge from within the framework of the course ‘Photojournalism and Documentary Photography’. There are an additional two multimedia pieces.
The show is curated and hung by the students themselves, the framed images driven down in their cars from Germany. Many of them were present at the opening to introduce their work. The subject matter ranges from pilgrimage and organ donation to Islamic fairytales and other illusionary worlds, war found in everyday life to the cruel abuse of a sibling, the Berlin Wall, and a small town in Greenland.
Undoubtedly a highlight of the show is the image that drew me in originally. Vivian Rutsch’s project Still Here stops you in your tracks. Her artist statement starts with: “There are two things that her death taught me: You cannot lose someone you love and every cruelty imaginable exists.” It goes on to explain that her work, which is the realization of her final thesis at the school, is a story about and a response to her sisters death, at the age of 17, in 2018. The diaries she left behind revealed she had been abused and the initial cause of death – suicide – is not believed to be the truth. The case though, is closed. Bureaucracy at its cruelest. Her work will be published, in book form, later this year. It’s raw, personal and incredibly brave.
Also worth mentioning is Nanna Heitmann’s ongoing series Hiding from Baba Yaga, a metaphorical and dreamlike look at life along the Yenisei river in Russia. Her praise for the course in Hanover included advice and mentorship she received from the guest lecturers Mads Nissen and Dominic Nahr.
Other photographers included are: Victor Hedwig, Patrick Junker, Rafael Heygster , Ole Spata, Daniel Niedermeier, Jan A. Staiger and Lukas Kreibig.
Visual journalism is constantly reinventing itself and that can be seen here amongst the work of these nine photographers. While photography as a means of record will always be important the future of photojournalism seems to be less this and more a practice of interpretation. This exhibition shows this shift and focuses on new ways of narrative and looks at future perspectives of visual storytelling and documentary practices. The future of the medium is in good hands and I leave thinking I should make a mental note of all nine of the photographer’s names. They are the future.
La Salle des Libertés, 1st floor
Until September 7
A South African Gaze
New York’s Photo Coaches