060910: Kunsthaus Wien Tina Modotti – Photographer and Revolutionary

Kunsthaus Wien Tina Modotti – Photographer and Revolutionary 01.07.10 – 7.11.10 Propaganda with a human face Socio-documentary photography always fought with its own ambivalence: on the one hand, in its attempt to at least depict extracts of realities in order to heighten awareness. After all, the image was meant to benefit those depicted. And on the other hand, not to base one’s reputation on this benefit, but on the formal power of the artwork, in other words to serve and to cultivate artistic criteria. But alone the request to let the alleged pure documentation serve an educational cause is connected to the implicit understanding that depiction is also always a kind of mise-en-scène. After all – its goal is set something in motion. But as generally known, there are infinite variations of pure art and pure propaganda. One of them is definitely Tina Modotti’s position (1896 – 1942). Her black-and-white photos are probably among the most significant of the first half of the 20th century. Modotti’s most famous pictures deal with symbols and situations of social and political battles. On the one hand they report about tedious life in the country in the south of post-revolutionary Mexico and about the difficult working conditions of employees in Mexico-City. On the other hand they show strict arrangements of objects and people that have become icons of the workers’ movement: the “Woman with the Flag” (1928), the four Mexican farmers hidden behind their sombreros reading the communist party’s newspaper “El Machete”, and even the detailed picture of Antonio Mella’s typewriter, the Cuban communist and Modotti’s murdered companion. In the early 1930’s, Modotti devotes herself to the political battle. She moves to Moscow and then, similar to many of her leftwing colleagues, she joins the Spanish Civil War (1936 – 1939). While people like Gerda Taro, Robert Capa and Kathi Horna proceed with the socio-documentary dilemma in a remarkably fruitful way, Modotti turns into a pragmatic party communist. In addition to propaganda with a human face, the retrospective also shows structural photography, women’s portraits, reproductions of paintings and genre pictures from the impressive oeuvre of the activist artist. By Jens Kastner Kunsthaus Wien 1030 Vienna, Untere Weißgerberstr 13 Tel: +43 1 712 04 95 Fax: + 43 1 712 04 96 email: office@kunsthauswien.at http://www.kunsthauswien.at Opening hours: daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Kunsthaus Wien xx
1030 Wien, Untere Weißgerberstr 13
Tel: +43 / 1 / 712 04 95, Fax: +43 / 1 / 712 04 96
Email: office@kunsthauswien.at
Öffnungszeiten: täglich von 10 bis 19 Uhr

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