3rd Berlin biennial for contemporary art 2004
For a period of two years, Christine Fenzl worked as the full time assistant for Nan Goldin, the American photographer known for intimate portraits of her circle of friends in New York in the 1980s. Apart from making portrait series of actors such as Maria Schrader and Inga Busch, Fenzl begins photographing living situations involving children and young people.
For her 2002 series Along the Peacelines she made intense portraits of children in Belfast, where the so called “peacelines” divide the city into Catholic and Protestant zones. From the moment they are born, the children are inevitably confronted with the conflict. For Fenzl these children represent the next generation, the ones perhaps destined to overcome the violence as well as social and physical barriers.
Poland, Germany´s neighbouring country, was becoming a member of the European Union in 2004. This former ´East Bloc´country, only a stone´s throw away from Berlin´s perspective, seems still a far way off for Fenzl, although, after the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall, the photographer has become more aware of this country as a subject matter. In 2002 and 2003, Fenzl travelled to Gdansk, Chelmno and Chelmza with Polish artist Piotr Nathan to his childhood places, who helped translating. She photographed in order to document changes, the influence of the `West`, and the lifestyle of the younger generation.
Fenzl´s intention is to capture the mood, and to show how she, as a German
citizen, experiences living situations, especially of younger people. In her photoseries
Gdansk she documents children and young people, since in her opinion,
they offer the truest reflection of a society. Shot in a three-quarter view from
close-up, positioned in the forground of the frame, the young people monopolize
the viewer´s attention. The backround is blurred, which keeps the photograph
from appearing too realistic, and yet the socially disatvantaged aspect of the
neighbourhood remains clearly visible. Fenzl´s photographs enable the viewer to
access the faces of these young people, who face the camera with selfconfidence
and curiosity, and to search for signs allowing for conclusions about
their living situation in Gdansk.