The six exhibitions of the Biennale für aktuelle Fotografie run from 19 March to 22 May 2022.

Changing Ecosystems

Alexandra Baumgartner, from the series How like a leaf I am, 2018–ongoing

Human demand for energy, building materials, chemicals as well as intensive food cultivation has caused natural ecosystems to diminish. The selected artists in Changing Ecosystems have each documented specific ecosystems, portrayed their current state, and mapped natural processes taking place at a specific moment in time. This slow-paced approach allows them to meticulously unravel the impact of global developments on the flora and fauna of certain localities.

On the one hand, the exhibited works can be regarded as indicators which make changes in vegetation and animal life visible to the eye; on the other hand, the images make us aware of a slow change in our consciousness. In the recent past, a reversal has become noticeable in our relationship to nature: the desire for control is turning into a relationship in which nature is treated as an equal organism.

Might we understand the value of a variety of ecosystems around the world better through the artists’ efforts in making these hidden processes visual and tangible?

With works by: Alexandra Baumgartner, Eline Benjaminsen, Antoinette de Jong & Robert Knoth, Douglas Mandry, Rohit Saha, Maria Sturm

Heidelberger Kunstverein
Hauptstraße 97
D-69117 Heidelberg

Contested Landscapes

Misha Vallejo Prut, Sarayaku, from the series Secret Sarayaku, 2019

Contested Landscapes addresses the ecological challenges the world is facing today. For centuries, capitalist economies and imperialist forces have heavily taxed and manufactured the earth for their own benefit. Nature is seen as a resource for economic growth: its economic value carries more weight than its ecological value. How can we rebalance the relationship between humans and the environment so that future generations can benefit from sustainable alternatives?

The selected artists take us to landscapes, from South America to the Baltic Sea, to show the effects of mineral extraction, waste management and marine pollution. Instead of observing topographical transformations at a distance, they include local sources and histories to demonstrate the social and political forces at stake.

To photograph a landscape is also to preserve an image of it and to make it part of a desired cultural identity. However, what rights do we have to use planet Earth and only assign our values to it?

With works by: Aàdesokan, Lisa Barnard, Awoiska van der Molen, Rune Peitersen, Yan Wang Preston, Małgorzata Stankiewicz, Katja Stuke & Oliver Sieber, Misha Vallejo Prut

Kunsthalle Mannheim
Friedrichsplatz 4
D-68165 Mannheim

Bodies in (e)Motion

Michał Iwanowski, from the series Go Home Polish, 2018

In the digital sphere, ideas, opinions and attitudes are widely exchanged. Yet the body itself is still the most important means of truly expressing one's cultural, religious and political identity. This embodied expression of experiences and belief systems is used in mass protests for the struggle for freedom of speech, women's rights and climate change. At the same time, the body is a fragile shell and vulnerable to state violence and opposing views.

Ideas and beliefs are formed throughout history, and they migrate and are adapted when people move. Colonialism, imperialism, global trade and mass media have ensured that values and beliefs from the West have spread around the world. The selected artists in Bodies in (e)Motion act as mediators to show thoughts and attitudes related to freedom, feminism and religion which are less known in the Western world. And they reveal how, in a more subtle way, the body can also act individually against the views that are forced upon it.

Bodies in (e)Motion presents in-depth dialogues that took place between the artists and their collaborators during the creation of their work. These resulting performances, newspapers and collages show how people have formed their identity based on their own conditions and the ongoing exchange of ideas.

With works by: Archive of Public Protests, Michał Iwanowski, Giya Makondo-Wills, Mashid Mohadjerin, Gloria Oyarzabal, Felipe Romero Beltrán

Kunstverein Ludwigshafen
Bismarckstraße 44–48
D-67059 Ludwigshafen am Rhein

Collective Minds

Anna Ehrenstein, Franceline II, TFC, from the series Tools for Conviviality, 2018 | Courtesy KOW Berlin & Office Impart

In our networked society we use, share, and communicate with images in order to get and feel connected. To photograph and film oneself is a powerful tool to express one's identity and to search for like-minded people. Social media platforms offer spaces to present and find support for lifestyles which deviate from mainstream views.

The artists presented in Port25 have created networks on- and offline with young people from a multitude of backgrounds, with creative entrepreneurs in Senegal and queer communities in South Africa. The works in Collective Minds are situated in fashion, sports, and popular music spheres, in which identity plays a central role. In doing so, the artists bring forward modes of living together and create collective minds across borders and beyond prejudices.

Through this collective effort, the exhibition Collective Minds evokes a vibrating energy, in which the process of making the works becomes tangible.

With works by: Anna Ehrenstein, Anouk Kruithof, Kelebogile Ntladi

PORT25 – Raum für Gegenwartskunst
Hafenstraße 25–27
D-68159 Mannheim

Shaping Data

Mónica Alcázar-Duarte, Here to be caught, from the series Second Nature, 2017–ongoing

Shaping Data explores how the widespread use of digital technologies affects our physical bodies, frames our opinions, and alters human interactions. We spend lots of our time with our devices sharing often personal data that fuels algorithms. In turn, these algorithmic processes decide what we see and hear. This immediate feedback creates the illusion that we are in control of our own lives and the lives of others.

The selected artists in Shaping Data critically examine the relationship between physical and virtual worlds while disrupting existing technologies. They try to reveal patterns created by artificial intelligence; for example: wherever there are biased people, there are biased images, and biased algorithms that have sorted those images.

Shaping Data also presents possible futures in which our enhanced bodies and lives become the new norm. What does it mean to be human in a highly automated world and how can we shape the data in an effort to create a more equal world?

With works by: Mónica Alcázar-Duarte, Heba Y. Amin, Alexandra Davenport, Matthieu Gafsou, Thomas Kuijpers, Yufan Lu, Paulien Oltheten, Sara, Peter & Tobias, Salvatore Vitale

Berliner Straße 23
D-67059 Ludwigshafen am Rhein

Narratives of Resistance

Silvy Crespo, from the series The Land of Elephants, 2019–ongoing

The exhibition Narratives of Resistance focuses on marginalised conflicts between national governments and indigenous communities. Large-scale lithium mining infrastructure in northern Portugal, the protracted struggle for Adivasi territory in central India and the ecological challenges facing Nepal in the Chitwan region: these have all had a serious impact on the inhabitants and their lands.

The artists have carefully documented these social and political uprisings against land grabbing, resource exploitation and the continued disregard for human rights. By using fictional storytelling strategies while adding historical documents and images of the people themselves, they have found innovative ways to tell these histories.

The perspective of the accounts is of those who have been living through the events for a long time and feel the loss of a lasting relationship with their environment and its profound transformations. Could these narratives of resistance become living archives that can contribute to the recognition of, and justice for, these resistance movements?