»Wagenburg« & »Near Conscious«
Opening: Thursday, November 26, 2015, 19h
Exhibition: November 27, 2015 –
January 30 February 13, 2016
curated by Jihan Radjai
Artist Talk (held in English): Friday, January 22, 2016, 19h
Tue-Sat 12-18h, and by appointment
A different view – Trailer Park and Near Conscious – Photographs by Noga Shtainer
Life in a trailer park is an alternative form of living. In transformed trailers or simple wooden huts people of all ages live among us in the metropolitan cities of Europe but on the edge of society. Noga Shtainer accompanied trailer parks between Berlin-Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain from 2011 to 2013. The portraits tell sensitively of people who decided to live an autonomous life without running water, electricity and heating. The inhabitants of these communes live a reclusive life and obturate themselves against the curiosity of strangers. Noga Shtainer managed to create a relationship with them, and despite being a stranger among outcasts.
These photographs allow the viewer to have an unusual insight in the world of trailer parks through a window. This window is an often used attribute in Shtainer’s visual language. The vis-à-vis mirrors itself, portraits are surrounded by window frames, large glass surfaces are used as background and strengthen the impresson of the thin walls within their habitat. Windows are symbolical: they stand for fragility, missing security from the outer world and the changing seasons. The interior however seems comfortable and cosy. The lighting is warm and not artificial and casts a warm spell over the subjects. Cosy small rooms appear as if a magic wand was used. A perfect example is the portrait of Chantal, a circus artist. Her arm rests upon the window ledge of her trailer, she gazes through the window, through a curtain a cone of light appears on her face and her elegantly crossed legs. The big green cushions, materials and even Chantal in her vivid clothing seem to come from a fairy tale – beautiful and elfin.
The young photographer Noga Shtainer portraits the protagonists in an outer world which seem different to all we have experienced before. The contradiction between intimacy and foreign life is for Noga Shtainer a reflection on her own life. She was born in Israel and grew up in an organised moschaw (similar to life in a commune). A few years ago she moved to Berlin. She experienced an intimacy in these trailer parks which becomes alive in her photographs. The combining elements between the object and the photographer is a question of their own identity, the status between arrival and courage to begin a new life. Life on the bread line, to begin afresh and leave all behind are known factors in Noga Shtainer’s life.
Affiliation, identity and family are subjects prevailing in the series Near Conscious. Here the artist portrayed her half sister Ella over a period of 12 years – without distance, intimately and nearly obsessively. Shtainer’s parents divorced when she was a young girl. Her memories evaporated due to their separation. Ella’s portraits reflect the innocence of a little girl over time turning into a young woman’s growing awareness of her sexual powers. The weekly meetings became a ritual between both of them and at the same time became a development process between the growing sister and the photographer. The last picture marks an important moment before both went different ways: the girl becomes a woman, the art student a photographer.
Both series tell about life – without words, endearing, melancholic but never without hope and confidence. ”The moment I capture in my photographs is not a private moment but a moment of human weakness which enables to find reality within a split second,“ Noga Shtainer describes her work. ”I experience a close relationship with the people I photograph and fall in love with them. Then they become a part of me and the story I am trying to tell.”
The photographs show the human intention of the artist: the clear and direct language shows intimate reports of outsiders and social outcasts, not being hurt in their pride. This has already been projected in social documentary photography as shown and taught by Diane Arbus, Mary Ellen Mark and Helen Levitt. They are of an intense atmosphere showing the interior of trailer parks and the family history of the artist. The way of life and family constellations become inviting, the alien intimate.
Text: Jihan Radjai (Curator)
Jewish Studies with focus on Jewish Art and Photography, 2013-2015 Jewish Museum, Department of Photography and Media, Dissertation Project on Israeli female soldier in art photography at Hochschule für Jüdische Studien Heidelberg (LGFG scholarship University of Heidelberg)
Translation: Knut Johannson
About the artist
1982 Born in Israel, Zefat
Lives and works in Berlin
2005-2009 B. Ed, Wizo Academy of Design & Education, Department of Photography, Israel
since 2012 Manager of non profit organization “Infinite Earth”, Berlin
2013-2015 Post Graduate class at Ostkreuz Schule, Berlin with Ute Mahler and Robert Lyons
2014: Mia Portfolio Review 2014, Honorable Mention
2013: Hearst 8×10 Biennial, Honorable Mentions
2011: IPA Honorable Mention, International Photography Awards
2009: IPA Honorable Mention, International Photography Awards
2008: America-Israel Cultural Foundation Grant
2006: Shpilman Scholarship for Art and Photograph
2015: Wagenburg & Near Conscious, Podbielski Contemporary Gallery, Berlin, Germany
2015: Insights, Vhs – Photogalerie, Stuttgart, Germany
2015: Twins – Duo Morality, The Morel Derfler Gallery, Haifa, Israel
2015: Wagenburg, The Gallery, Academy of Design and Photography, Haifa, Israel
2013: Wagenburg, Hezi Cohen Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel
2011: Twins – Duo Morality, Hezi Cohen Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel
2010: Near Conscious, Hezi Cohen Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel