JODI BIEBER – WORKS ON GENDER
25 January – 29 March 2019
Vegesacker Geschichtenhaus, Bremen
Galerie im Foyer der Arbeitnehmerkammer, Bremen
Opening: Friday 25 January, 8 p.m.
Artist talk: Saturday 26 January, 8 p.m.
Lecture: “Bild-Werden: Fotografische Inszenierung zwischen Selbstbehauptung und Fremdbestimmung“, Dr. Kerstin Brandes (Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg), Galerie im Foyer der Arbeitnehmerkammer, Wednesday 26 February, 8 p.m.
News: The exhibition has been extended until 26 April
South African photo artist Jodi Bieber, born 1966 in Johannesburg, counts as one of today’s most relevant photographers. In her work, she deals with socially significant topics and draws attention to discrepancies, whether in her native South Africa or worldwide. She provides insights into areas that lie beyond the spotlight and the photographic mainstream. Sometimes she breaks taboos without violating the dignity of the person in front of the camera. She achieves this by an approach which is characterized by a distinct capacity to empathize, which enables her to build up a sensitive relationship with her counterpart, as her well-known portrait of the mutilated 18-year-old Afghan Bibi Aisha shows, a picture that went around the world as a cover motif for TIME Magazine.
Bieber's career began in 1994 with the democratic elections in South Africa. She worked as a photojournalist for The Star Newspaper in Johannesburg. In 1966 she received the invitation to attend the World Press Masterclass in Amsterdam. This resulted in worldwide commissions for international magazines and NGOs. Throughout her career, she developed an independent visual language with which she was able to establish herself as a photographic artist. Regular exhibitions in national and international contexts underline her importance in the art world as well as the presence of her works in renowned collections, including The Artur Walther Collection, Fondazione Carispezia, Fondazione Fotografia Modena, The François Pinault Collection, Iziko Museums Collection, The Johannesburg Art Gallery, The Oppenheimer Collection, and Jean-Paul Blachere-Foundation. Jodi Bieber has also received numerous international awards, including the World Press Photo 2011. In December 2018 – on the centenary anniversary of women’s suffrage in the UK – The Royal Photographic Society nominated her among the 100 photographic Heroines of the present.
The exhibition, which takes place simultaneously at two locations in Bremen, presents Works from three comprehensive picture cycles: Real Beauty, Quiet, and Women who have murdered their husbands. The three series depict the artist's longstanding engagement with questions of identity, gender, gender construction, and related issues in the context of contemporary South African society. While Real Beauty questions the prevailing ideology of female beauty with its stylized body ideals, Quiet examines the representation of the male body beyond the clichéd stereotypes that construct it as male. Women who have murdered their husbands shows women's fates that reveal how the spiral of domestic violence can become imprisonment.
Jodie Bieber's attention to the issue of gender and identity points not only to the general disintegration of restrictive definitions of gender and art but also to a process of awareness within society. The medial construction of the body, for its part, characterizes a category of contemporary experience that is both general and specific and that is increasingly critically reflected by the efforts of social movements and the theoretical examination of disciplines of the humanities that are themselves becoming global. Bieber's exhibition in Bremen can, therefore, be seen as an aesthetic examination of central issues of the present: the power relations of gender representation.