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Fascinating, unembellished, impressive and quirky: in its new exhibition "Street. Life. Photography", the Kunst Haus Wien shows icons of street photography and contemporary positions from across seven decades.

Cardiff, late at night. Four party-goers take a short break. The night takes its toll. They eat fast food in a bus stop. Nothing special, really. Yet no matter how unremarkable as this scene appears, in the moment that the photographer presses the shutter release, an artwork of everyday life is created. With his very special sense of the moment, Maciej Dakowicz shows how an ordinary shopping street transforms into a stage for the bizarre every weekend in his series "Cardiff After Dark". One of a total of 35 photographic positions.  

It is precisely these encounters and moments of street photography that let us look deep. Sometimes so deep that the boundaries between voyeurism, documentary photography and art become blurred. But this debate is nothing new to street photography. Indeed, it is fully aware of its responsibility. So how far can you go? Where does art begin, where does it end? What makes an unimportant street scene an artwork? Precisely these moments, which often last only a fraction of a second but are captured by a photographer for eternity, can now be seen at the Kunst Haus Wien. The predominant motive, which lends this genre its name, is the street. It is muse and stage combined.

Cities and their streets have also always been a big source of inspiration for big names such as Diane Arbus, Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, and Wolfgang Tillmanns. At the Kunst Haus Wien, these icons of street photography meet young, contemporary artists such as Mohamed Bourouissa, Harri Pälviranta or the Austrian artist Alex Dietrich. They lead the visitor through the exhibition in five kaleidoscopic chapters (Street Life, Crashes, Public Transfer, Anonymity, and Alienation). In addition to small-format camera and large-format camera, black and white photography meets color photography – analog meets digital. More than 200 works shows the upheavals and aesthetic developments of this exciting genre – from the 1930s to the present day.

Street. Life. Photography, September 11, 2019 – February 16, 2020


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