Exhibition Portraits

Project 2012-2015,
- german version -

This exhibition explores and compares history, on its own as well as in relation to the present, a principle that lies at the heart of portrait series. The subjects choose the position in which they are photographed themselves, drawing the viewer into their conversations and their city. The intergenerational photographs of Uwe-S. Tautenhahn focus on women and their biographies, as both come together in this exhibition to portray subjects' city and its history. The artist took on a similar investigatory perspective on women as a filmmaker in the documentation 'Lebanon Resisting Lunacy'. Here, he portrayed their personnel stories, relations and above all, their return to their home country and the city of Beirut. This time, the project focuses on Berlin, the city many talk about and many more desire to live. The women in the photos are not representatives of the city as such; rather, they reveal a fleeting moment that, when captured, serves as a documentation of the present. Portraits traditionally offer the viewer an insight into the personality of the subject, proving a frame in which it is easier to explore. The art of painting, for instance, commonly uses half-length portraits to capture the personality of a subject. In this work, Tautenhahn takes his subjects, the narrators, into his studio, and purposefully seperates and isolates them from their contextual background. The observer is left with little context other than their gestures, expression and posture. Careful and intense consideration is required if the observer wishes to learn more about the women in the portraits and the city they are from. The artist did not want to delete traces of context entirely, since the life stories of his Berlin subjects are the heart of this series. Short biographies of the subjects have therefore been included in the portait series. The carefully selected size of the pictures creates a strong perspective, almost concentration, on physiognomy, which again echoes the principles of portait painting. The large format of the portraits is of great significance: It allows a comprehensive yet detailed display of the posture and behaviour of the subjects. Most importantly, the size enables the observer's exploration to read, analyse and experience the portait to the greatest extent possible. Our view on the portraits is therefore shaped by social perception, but also by an exposed, yet deeply personal self-awareness. Through his lens, Uwe-S. Tautenhahn creates a palpable connection to the women he portrays, according them dignity and respect through his larger than life pictures. With his series of portraits, Uwe-S is searching his subjects for traces and influences of their environment and their origins. In doing so, Uwe-S. Tautenhahn searches all inhabitants of this urban landscape, and may even embark on the search for himself. ( Harald Theiss, art historian / curator )