Welcome to the press section of our website where we provide you with press releases and images on the current programme of WestLicht. Schauplatz für Fotografie.
The use of the material is free for the coverage of our current programme. Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information. Images may only be used in connection with coverage of WestLicht, copyright needs to be stated.
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Lennart Nilsson. The beginning
Press Preview: Monday, 10.02.2020, 5 pm
Exhibition Opening: Monday, 10.02.2020, 7 pm
On 30 April 1965, Life Magazine put a photograph on its cover that was about to make history: The image by Swedish photojournalist Lennart Nilsson (1922–2017), entitled Foetus 18 Weeks, caused a sensation. What until then had only been seen by merely a handful of scientists and physicians now became visible in full colour and crystal clear detail to the general public: life before birth.
The total print run of the magazine, 8 Million copies, was sold out within a few days, the issue became the fastest-selling copy in Life’s history, outnumbering even the moon landing and the Kennedy assassination. German magazine Stern subsequently also bought the pictures as did French Paris Match. Already in the same year, Nilsson published an extended version of the photo essay in a book intended for parents to be, A Child is Born, which became an instant bestseller and still is today. It has been translated into 20 languages and to date has sold over 50 Million copies in six editions.
Today, 55 years after their original publication, in times of 3D ultrasound technology, the quality and the richness in detail of the pictures, made years before the use of sonograms became a common practice in hospitals during the 1970s, is still astonishing. Nilsson started with working on the series in the 1950s, equipped with special cameras, lenses and endoscopes provided to him by and developed in cooperation with companies like Zeiss or Jungners Optiska.
Beyond the technical pioneering achievement, it is the huge cultural impact of the pictures which cemented their status as milestones of twentieth century photography. Single-handedly they shaped the popular imagination of child development in the womb – though only part of the photographs were actually taken in utero and the majority of images comes from either miscarried of terminated pregnancies. The photographs and their particular aesthetics – the fragile foetus, almost transparent, floating serenely in front of a dark backdrop – seized the public’s imagination in the 1960s. In a decade torn by social and political upheaval, they became icons of the universal promise of humanism and a still largely intact believe in progress. With the publication of the images, pregnancy and prenatal development all of a sudden were a public matter, and it didn’t take long before the photographs were hijacked by the radical anti-abortion activists of the pro-life movement, a use to which Nilsson deeply objected.
Focussing on Nilsson’s masterpiece of 1965 and accompanied by original documents from the archive of Lennart Nilsson and extensive examples of the publication history, WestLicht follows the career of the photojournalist from his beginnings, showing examples from his rarely seen early science photography and his reportages, which led him from a Swedish midwife to the Congo and the Arctic, from a shooting with Hollywood actress Ingrid Bergman to the Viennese architect Josef Frank.
Alison Jackson. Fake Truth
Press preview: Monday, 28.10.2019, 5 pm
Opening: Monday, 28.10.2019, 7 pm
Alison Jackson is present
Imagine The Queen taking a selfie, Kim Kardashian giving birth for reality TV, Lady Di giving us the finger, Donald Trump with Miss Mexico in the Oval Office. Really? In this fake news era separating facts from fiction is harder than ever. Alison Jackson explores the blurred boundaries between reality and the imaginary – and the gap and confusion between the two. For the first time ever, WestLicht brings the work of the internationally awarded British artist to Austria.
"My work reflects the public's voyeurism, the power and seductive nature of imagery, and the viewers' need to believe. I use lookalikes and actors crafted so they look convincingly real - then stage them in the scenes we have all imagined but never seen before.”
The photographs are mostly shot on location to fit the celebrity, and sometimes Jackson takes to the streets and lets the camera run, such as when she brought a Donald Trump double to Trump Tower, New York, escorted by some women protesters causing a roadblock. Nobody is spared; Boris Johnson or Vladimir Putin have made an appearance as well as Brangelina, Marilyn Monroe and many more.
Jackson examines our celebrity culture, which is fuelled by the vanity of its protagonists as much as by our obsession with them; a culture that made a phenomenon like Donald Trump possible in the first place. Against the background of buzzwords like alternative facts and post truth Alison Jackson’s staged photographs deftly toy with our expectations craving for disclosures. Her pictures take to the extreme what our reality-TV-fed minds are constantly making up anyway. It presents us with a garish idea of what it could be like when everybody shouts fake news just long enough: in the end, you either believe everything or nothing at all.
The exhibition Alison Jackson. Fake Truth has been organised in cooperation with Anke Degenhard.