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Der Greif X Grisebach: “New Positions” (Part 2)

Olga Alekseeva, Little Lady, from 'Metamorphose', 2023 © Der Greif X Grisebach

Following the presentation of Grisebach's historical works in Part 1, we are presenting today more contextual information on the 15 contemporary images chosen by Der Greif, that are now on sale during the Photography Online Only Auction at Grisebach.

The special open call "New Positions", stemming from the collaboration between Der Greif and the German auction house, aimed to spark dialogue across decennia by offering 15 contemporary photographs next to (semi-)historic works during the Photography Online Only Auction from January 19 to 28, 2024.

The selected artists out of the almost 8,000 submissions to the special open call are: Olga Alekseeva (*1975, RU/FR), Sander Coers (*1997, NL), John Andreas Godwin (*1980, SE), Kirill Golovchenko (*1975, UA/DE), Caroline Heinecke (*1986, DE), Anqi Li (*1993, CN/DE), Lom-of-LaMa (*1983/89, DE), Yurian Quintanas Nobel (*1983, NL/ES), Weeteng Poh (*1985, SG/DE), Lukas Städler (*1992, DE), David Steinberg (*1990, US), Natalie Strohmaier (*1974, DE), Maryna Syrovatka (*1977, UA/SK), Ivan Tomasevic (*1989, HR/DE), Isolde Woudstra (*1982, NL).

On January 27th, 2024, at 1:00 pm, Grisebach is hosting a lunch talk with Der Greif at their Berlin headquarters (Fasanenstraße 25, 10719 Berlin). Diandra Donecker (Co-Director & Co-Partner at Grisebach with Daniel von Schacky), Dr. Caroline von Courten (Artistic Co-Director, Der Greif), and Christian Ganzenberg (Independent Curator and Programme Director, Various Others) will be in conversation to discuss the topic of juxtaposition of images over time, which always raises the question of which themes, fascinations, and formal language tend to point us towards an aesthetic of timelessness and thus elude any historical linearity.

Olga Alekseeva's selected work is titled "Little Lady," a prominent portrait from the series "Metamorphose" (2023). Through delicate and nostalgic tones, the work distinctively conveys a sense of maturity and self-awareness in a child who embodies purity and innocence. It evokes the intimacy found in Dutch 17th-century portraiture, enhanced by subdued tones, monochrome compositions, and dark backgrounds. Alekseeva's work demonstrates the photographic medium's ability not only to capture the physical body but also the essence or "aura" of a person, to borrow Roland Barthes' term (1980).

Sander Coers, POST No. 32, from 'POST', 2023 © Der Greif X Grisebach

Sander Coers' image is part of his project "POST," an experiment with AI to expand his family history based on his grandparents' photo albums. The goal is to fill in the visual narrative with missing events in his family records. The image we see is a generated image prompted by authentic photos. While it follows the aesthetics of those existing photos, the AI-constructed new memories not only represent true stories but also raise questions about the authenticity of human memory. This is because human memory is a construct, much like AI-generated images.

John Andreas Godwin, Open Sea, from 'Sights / Sightings', 2019 © Der Greif X Grisebach

John Andreas Godwin's photographs are characterized by a strong use of minimalist aesthetics, mainly rooted in the landscape and cityscape genres. His selected image "Open Sea", part of the series "Sights/Sightings", is a mysterious piece that invites pensive reflection on the feeling of the sublime when confronted with unrecognizable forms.

Kirill Golovchenko, Mouse Dinner, from 'Bitter Honeydew', 2009 © Der Greif X Grisebach

Kirill Golovchenko's "Mouse Dinner" from "Bitter Honeydew" offers a glimpse into the lives of traders from Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia in Ukrainian territory. Inspired by pictorial aesthetics, Golovchenko captures the reality of these temporary migrants in an authentic manner, characteristic of today's reportage photography.

Caroline Heinecke, Headless Match, from 'Masters of Things', 2019 © Der Greif X Grisebach

"Masters of Things" is Caroline Heinecke's monograph of still lifes of objects people collect. In the image up for auction, titled "Headless Match," we see an abstract and playful photo of a match, part of a series belonging to a collector of matches. Unveiling people's curious fetishes, Heinecke reveals contemporary humans' idolatry for objects of certain kinds.

Anqi Li, Fish Tank, 2019 © Der Greif X Grisebach

“Fish Tank” by Anqi Li is a pensive, silent photograph on contemporary alienation, a sort of wonder for the here and now experienced through external phenomena, without really being in control of oneself. Staged photographic scenes are her expedients for crafting communicative images in the threshold of reality and surrealism.

lom-of-LaMa, Singularity, from 'Call Me We', 2018 © Der Greif X Grisebach

With the presented work "Singularity," from Lom-of-LaMa’s series "Call Me We," based on the expansion of technology into various areas of society, the artist duo explores the complexities of contemporary social interaction in their works. Through objects, installations, and performances, the duo witnesses and explores the becoming of a "common self," a (fictitious) unity, in their own terms, which they exploit by analyzing mutual perception, communication, and physicality.

Yurian Quintanas Nobel, Hen House, from 'The Ignorant Gardener', 2023 © Der Greif X Grisebach

Yurian Quintanas Nobel's selected image is "Hen House", from the series "The Ignorant Gardener". His photograph gives a nod to ready-made and surrealist aesthetics: through ephemeral sculptures, he constructs artworks that satirize today's lack of knowledge about natural processes.

Weeteng Poh, Lightness of Being, from 'Nobody likes Plastic Roses', 2022 © Der Greif X Grisebach

Weeteng Poh's photograph is a curious hybrid image lingering between the real and the fictional: we cannot truly grasp its nature. "Lightness of Being" – this is the title of the image – is part of the artist's series "Nobody Likes Plastic Roses".

Lukas Städler, Bruno Holding Andrea, from 'Hain', 2022 © Der Greif X Grisebach

Lukas Städler's "Bruno Holding Andrea" is a highlight from his series "Hain," a candid series on Berlin's cruising scene. It offers a contemporary narrative of freedom and love, as well as self-exploration and self-understanding in relation to affection, love, and interconnectedness with people and nature.

David Steinberg, Satellite #1, from 'Ouroboros', 2017 © Der Greif X Grisebach

"Ouroboros" by David Steinberg is a non-linear narrative of common scientific objects, natural phenomena, astronomical observers, and anomalous landscapes accentuating the paradox between beauty and dark uneasiness. Specifically, his work "Satellite #1" focuses on the sublime evoked by the isolation of a subject from its context.

Natalie Strohmaier, Le Panier de Fraises des Bois, 2022 © Der Greif X Grisebach

"Le Panier de Fraises des Bois" by Natalie Strohmaier is a piece of work reminiscent of Dutch still lifes from the early 17th century. Part of the series "Same Same but Different (Sugar&Plastic)" the artwork depicts contemporary objects, flowers, and fruits, the photograph stands halfway between a society that lingers between the fabricated, industrial world, and nature.

Maryna Syrovatka, Laura, from 'Her Gaze at That', 2021 © Der Greif X Grisebach

Maryna Syrovatka's portrait, titled "Laura," is part of her series "Her Gaze at That." In her practice as a portrait photographer, she focuses on bringing the delicacy of human nature to the foreground.

Ivan Tomasevic, Ivan Tomasevic, Swing By The Sea, from 'Hidden People', 2023 © Der Greif X Grisebach

"Swing By the Sea" is a highlight from the "Hidden People" photographic series by Ivan Tomasevic. A documentary photography approach, much influenced by fictional expedients, leads to images rich in room for interpretation and imagination. Specifically, in this example, the artist's research on the enigmatic realm of Icelandic folklore leaves space for personal questioning on memory, community, and intergenerational matters.

Isolde Woudstra, Molenpolder, 2022 © Der Greif X Grisebach

Isolde Woudstra's single-image work inspires intense gaze, focusing on the tension in the subject's eyes. In her practice, she skillfully captures the mood and thoughts of people in a descriptive manner, while always acknowledging their humanity and emotions. She manages to strike a balance and avoids becoming overly subjective.