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Photo Stories on Migration

This ex­hi­bi­tion fea­tures per­so­n­al pho­to­graphs and in­ter­views with Yü­cel Aşçıoğlu, Tay­fun Demir, Chrysau­gi Died­erich, Onur Dül­ger, An­tonel­la Gi­u­rano, An­to­nios Go­gos, Zeynep Gür­soy, Alpin Har­renkamp, Ali Ka­natlı, Bengü Ko­catürk-Schus­ter, An­gela L., the Öz­dağ fam­i­ly, Mi­tat Özdemir, Asim­i­na Paradis­sa, Rosa Spi­ta­leri, Fikret Üçgüler, and So­fia and Ioan­na Zachara­ki. Ad­di­tio­n­al perso­n­al pho­to­graphs come from Al­iba­ba G., Sal­ih G., Marie Claire Ip­pol­i­to, Ro­mo­lo di Sa­bati­no, and others who re­main un­named, which were pro­vid­ed by the Doc­u­men­ta­tion Cen­ter and Mu­se­um of Mi­gra­tion in Ger­many (DO­MiD).

The per­so­n­al pho­to­graphs are com­bined with pho­to­graphs of ur­ban life by Jörg Boström, Chargesheimer, Chris­tel Fomm, GAG Im­mo­bilien AG (Cologne), Heinz Held, Can­di­da Höfer, Kurt Holl, Ger­not Hu­ber, Rheinisch­es Bil­darchiv Köln, Ul­rich Till­mann, Schulz, Di­eter Storp, stu­dents at the Ruhr-Uni­ver­sität Bochum, Gue­nay Ulu­tun­cok, Man­fred Vollmer, Lud­wig Weg­mann, Eu­se­bius Wird­ei­er, a film by Edith Sch­midt-Mar­cel­lo and David Wit­ten­berg, and a video pro­ject by Ulf Aminde.

Pho­to­graphs of Cologne and other ci­ties in the Rhine­land from the pe­ri­od be­tween 1955 and 1989 vi­su­al­ize the con­s­tant changes brought about by the resi­dents. Yet the sto­ries of mi­grant work­ers in pho­tog­ra­phy are bare­ly pre­sent in the public vi­su­al me­m­o­ry of th­ese ci­ties. For the first time, this ex­hi­bi­tion at the Mu­se­um Lud­wig will fo­cus on per­so­n­al pho­to­graphs. An im­por­tant start­ing point is doc­u­ments of sto­ries of mi­gra­tion from DO­MiD. In in­ter­views, the len­ders of the works in the ex­hi­bi­tion talk about their di­verse his­to­ries. They of­fer an ac­count of life in the ci­ty and how it was en­livened by their im­mi­gra­tion. Their per­so­n­al pho­to­graphs show how streets, build­ings, shops, bars, so­cial clubs, and parks be­come places of re­mem­brance and part of the ci­ty’s his­to­ry. The ex­hi­bi­tion deals with the role of pho­tog­ra­phy in this con­text. It com­bines th­ese new and sur­pris­ing ci­tys­capes with pho­to­graphs of ur­ban life by Chargesheimer, Can­di­da Höfer, and Ul­rich Till­mann from the col­lec­tion of the Mu­se­um Lud­wig as well as pho­to­graphs by Chris­tel Fomm, Ger­not Hu­ber, and Gue­nay Ulu­tun­cok, among others. Be­yond the fleet­ing ex­pe­ri­ences of life in the ci­ty, th­ese pho­to­graph­ic sto­ries of mi­gra­tion show the vari­ous ways in which peo­ple can find their place in a new ci­ty.

The idea for the ex­hi­bi­tion comes from the ar­chi­tec­tu­ral his­to­rian and guest cu­ra­tor Ela Kaçel. In vari­ous publi­ca­tions by the ci­ty of Cologne and the hous­ing de­vel­op­er GAG she dis­cov­ered pho­to­graphs of resi­den­tial com­plex­es from the 1950s and ’60s that are promi­nent land­marks of the “New Cologne.” Th­ese high-rise build­ings were in­tend­ed for work­ers who had come to Cologne as part of the so-called la­bor re­cruit­ment agree­ments be­tween West Ger­many and main­ly Ita­ly, Spain, Por­tu­gal, Greece, and Turkey. In the wide­ly pub­lished im­ages of the new neigh­bor­hoods of the ci­ty, the strik­ing apart­ment blocks ap­pear as defin­ing ar­chi­tec­tu­ral pheno­m­e­na. Th­ese icon­ic pho­to­graphs have be­come part of the ci­ty’s his­to­ry.

As a coun­ter­part to the de­sert­ed shots of the “guest work­er tow­ers,” Ela Kaçel dis­cov­ered per­so­n­al pho­to­graphs tak­en by the resi­dents in front of and in­side the build­ings. This led her and the cu­ra­tor Bar­bara En­gel­bach to the ques­tion of how la­bor mi­gra­tion in ci­ties is rep­re­sent­ed in public pho­to­graphs be­tween 1955 and 1989 and how mi­grants pho­to­graphed them­selves as resi­dents of the ci­ty. How does their pho­to­graph­ic prac­tice lo­cate them and thus help con­tribute to the me­m­o­ry of spe­cif­ic ci­ties and places? The gener­ous loans from the ci­ty resi­dents and their in­ter­views pre­sent th­ese di­verse per­so­n­al pho­to­graphs and sto­ries about ar­ri­val, in­te­gra­tion, and mo­bil­i­ty, find­ing one’s place and po­lit­i­cal en­gage­ment, par­ti­ci­pa­tion and self-re­flec­tion. They make it pos­si­ble to rec­og­nize the col­lec­tive me­m­o­ry of a post-mi­gra­tion so­ci­e­ty and to pre­serve their sto­ries of ur­ban life.

Yil­maz Dziewior, di­rec­tor of the Mu­se­um Lud­wig: “The fo­cus on per­so­n­al pho­to­graphs al­so changes our per­spec­tive on the mu­se­um’s col­lec­tion. This al­lows us to pre­sent very dif­fer­ent sto- ries about ar­riv­ing in a new ci­ty in the Rhine­land.

Cu­ra­tors: Ela Kaçel (ar­chi­tec­tu­ral his­to­rian and guest cu­ra­tor) and Bar­bara En­gel­bach (cu­ra­tor)

The ex­hi­bi­tion is a joint pro­ject with the Doc­u­men­ta­tion Cen­ter and Mu­se­um of Mi­gra­tion in Ger­many (DO­MiD). Manuel Go­gos and Au­ro­ra Ro­donò served as cu­ra­to­rial ad­vi­sors.

The ex­hi­bi­tion is sup­port­ed by the Min­istry of Cul­ture and Sci­ence of the State of North Rhine-West­phalia, the Land­schaftsver­band Rhein­land, and GAG Im­mo­bilien AG.

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Image: Süheyla (Ruziye) Kocatürk and her daughter Begüm watch an elephant walking through town, probably advertising a circus., E 1015,0926, Sign. DI 0445 
Dengin Kocatürk, DOMiD-Archiv, Köln

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