until 16.06. | #1976ARTatBerlin | Blain|Southern Berlin shows from 28th April 2018 the exhibition “Quinceañeras” with new works by the artist Frank Thiel.
Blain|Southern is pleased to present Quinceañeras, Frank Thiel’s first exhibition with the gallery. Returning to portrait photography for the first time in over 20 years, Quinceañeras examines the tradition of the often lavish coming-of-age celebrations around a young woman’s fifteenth birthday in Cuba. Known for extensively researched projects that survey places in transformation, Thiel uses the quince tradition in Cuba as a metaphor for a culture in flux, creating a portrait of a generation of young women alongside that of a city rich in heritage yet coming to terms with change and decay.
Across Latin America, a girl’s fifteenth birthday is an important rite of passage and a celebration of her transition into adulthood. While each country has its own traditions, an essential part of the festivities is the idealised portrait shot by professional photographers, which often aim to reproduce the fantasy world depicted in high-fashion magazines. Thiel’s portraits of a generation of young women born in the year 2000 take a different approach, showing them in a single, consistent pose, in a range of everyday backdrops.
Working over a two-year period in close collaboration with his Cuban team and the families of the young women, Thiel photographed them in their own neighbourhoods in Havana. Drawn from across all fifteen municipalities of the Cuban capital, the unadorned locations act as a counterpoint to the often nostalgic or romanticised idea of the city and the life of its inhabitants that defines conventional quince photography. Thiel depicts Arlett Acosta Fajardo, for example, at a bus stop, while people in the background wait for their local public transport. Daniela Lucrecia Márquez Rivero stands in front an abandoned department store in Havana’s centre – the sign behind her reads Fin de Siglo: End of the Century. Thiel creates an atmosphere that shows both the young women and a nation in shared anticipation of an uncertain future.
Thiel’s interest in transformation is ever-present in his work, from his preoccupation with Berlin post-reunification, to the glaciers of Patagonia. Quinceñeras combines several elements that outline his artistic practice to date: architecture, the transitory moment and socio-political realities.
About the artist
Frank Thiel was born in Kleinmachnow (near Berlin), in the former East Germany in 1966, and moved to West Berlin in 1985. He studied photography at college before enrolling at the University of the Arts, Berlin in 1989.
Thiel is known for his monumental photographs which document Berlin’s geographical and architectural transformation post reunification. The Berlin Series is Thiel’s most extensive body of work to date, but an interest in temporary states or places in transformation is thread that runs throughout his oeuvre. The starting point for his photographs is often a long period of research. Thiel’s project The Allies began just after reunification in 1990 and wasn’t completed until 1994. His first portrait series, it involved photographing over 50 Russian and Allied soldiers before they left Berlin. Now part of the landscape of the city, two of the portraits – an American solider facing West and a Russian soldier facing East – form part of a permanent installation at Checkpoint Charlie. In 2011 Thiel photographed the glaciers of Patagonia, an area he first visited 15 years before. Struck by the beauty and fragility of the landscape – and the constant state of flux – this project led to the largest work he’d ever produced. His latest series Quinceneras combines several elements of his artistic practice: the transitory moment, socio-political realities and architecture.
Thiel lives and works in Berlin. His first exhibition with Blain|Southern will take place during Berlin’s Gallery Weekend 2018.
Private View: Friday, 27. April 2018, 6 – 9 pm
Exhibition period: Saturday, 28. April bis Saturday, 16. June 2018
Gallery Weekend opening times:
Saturday 28 April 2018, 11-7pm
Sunday 29 April 2018, 11-7pm
Bildunterschrift: Kiara Isabel & Karla Amelia Soliño González, La Habana, Plaza de la Revolución, Nuevo Vedado, 2016
© Frank Thiel. Courtesy the artist and Blain|Southern
Exhibition Exhibiton Frank Thiel – Quinceañeras – Blain Southern | Contemporary Art – art in Berlin – ART at Berlin