Bertien van Manen – A Hundred Summers, A Hundred Winters
She has travelled through the Eastern Block sixteen times, has lived there and photographed the things she encountered: post-Soviet daily life. In this, Bertien van Manen did not remain a distanced photo-reporter. In Moscow, St. Petersburg, Rostov, Odessa, Tomsk, Sibiria, in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Moldavia or Georgia she become involved with the way of life there, with the people. Very direct, but never cynical, the colour pictures by the Dutch photographer tell stories of friendship and love, happiness, pain, aging, loneliness and death. Communal apartments, furniture and wallpaper, cutlery, clothes, bouquets, odds and ends, portable radios and televisions are at the same time scenery and mirror. The photographs of the interiors and their residents speak of poverty and the attempt at a dignified life.
Bertien van Manens method gaining a unique colour tone from the photographed scene sharpens their meaningfulness dramatically. Thus her reportage photographs are cleary distinguished from most journalistic work. Image construction and colour do not serve a senseless aesthetization of a difficult, at best unspectacular every-day life, but are instead direct emotional expressions of experience.
The exhibition was curated by Urs Stahel.