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The works presented in Camera Austria International no. 161 take a look at the charged realm of belonging, dislocation, migration, and identity. Compiled here are artistic positions that mediate these themes in very different ways, that focus on more than just the representation of an individual. Instead, the featured artists at times also operate in collaborative contexts and incorporate archival ma­terials and personal oral histories, as well as texts, objects, and found items into their work. Not least, the works presented involve questions related to visualizing communities brought together by family ties or similar interests that elude our everyday gaze, to the role of photographic and filmic images in imparting historical narratives, including suppressed ones, and to a critical examination of how the categories of identity and belonging are constructed and passed on over different generations.


Starting from Berliner Kindheit um neunzehnhundert (Berlin Child­hood around 1900), a volume of vignettes that Walter Benjamin wrote in the 1930s, Carlos Kong elaborates how Aykan Safoğlu brings together images from photographic archives and transgenerational experiences and traumas as well as autobiographical experiences in his work. “Over the past decade, Aykan Safoğlu’s artistic practice has forged a distinctive photographic language for picturing spectral memories, of the artist’s upbringing in Istanbul and his lived experiences of migration between Turkey and Germany. Safoğlu’s migratory gaze is at once retrospective and anticipatory with regard to his specific historical circumstances.”


Sky Hopinka develops a “media practice as harm production,” as Alexandra Juhasz phrases it, in his video Dislocation Blues (2017), a work that is interpreted by the author in the context of the “Philadelphia Principles” of the artist collective Mad Ecologies. In the video, Hopinka selectively observes the protest camp erected along the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota from April 2016 to February 2017, also giving voice to two of the involved activists. A central topic in this manifesto is advocating for a better, solidary society that is united in its shared concerns and its desire to realize collective dreams, despite all the individual differences. “At the camp, people made family across differences, in struggle, in protest. Not for them, but for a new and shifting us.”

Camera Austria International #161 by Christina Töpfer

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