About the exhibition:
"The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" by the literary theorist Walter Benjamin appeared in 1936. In this essay, Benjamin argues that mass production and the improved methods of mechanical reproduction caused the loss of an elusive and mysterious quality: the aura of a work of art or an artifact. The aura of a work of art or an artifact is inextricably linked to the uniqueness and history of the piece. The aura makes the past visible because it carries with it the historical context. It is as if the work is not only looked at, but as if one might look back through it.
30 years have passed since the fall of the Berlin Wall. What has remained? What images, what emotions come to mind? Did we learn from it? And if so, what? Aside from the general media spectacle and flood of images that were born of this event, the individual memories have diminished and possibly faded. 30 years later, Petra Senn reflects on the historic event and reappraises it artistically and conceptually. The focus here is less on the image as such, but instead increasingly on the process of memory, and on the appeal to the emotional memory of each individual viewer. Petra Senn and her camera witnessed the events surrounding the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin during those first days marked by enthusiasm but also insecurity and disbelief.
This exhibition includes unique pieces that stand in direct contrast with the usual expectations and purpose of photography. In addition to being non-reproducible originals, the pieces are also “Zeitzeugen,” witnesses of this historic occasion, manifested in the materials used. Petra Senn works with her personal memories, scraps of thoughts, notes, and outlines, describing her impressions of the mood in November 1989 with different stylistic devices and ever-changing, transient materials, thus giving the viewers much room for their own thoughts and memories. Senn’s work is, in the truest sense of the word, a piece of history, which takes viewers into the past in order to give them the opportunity to reflect on the present.
About the artist:
Born in Germany, Petra Senn studied law before moving on to study communication- and photo-design at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Dortmund, where she also worked as a lecturer from 2004-2008. Since 1992 she has been working as an independent photographer and artist in Düsseldorf. Petra Senn has presented solo and group exhibitions in various cities in Germany, China, the Netherlands, and the United States. She was the recipient of AGFA’s International Prize for Young Photojournalism (1990) and the BFF’s Förderpreis (1992).