The Center Awards: Curator’s Choice Award 3rd Place: Astrid Jahnsen
Congratulations to Astrid Jahnsen for her Third Place win in CENTER’S Curator’s Choice Award for his project, Backdrop. The Choice Awards recognize outstanding photographers working in all processes and subject matter. Images can be singular or part of a series. Winners receive admission to Review Santa Fe portfolio reviews and participation in a winner’s exhibition at Pictura Gallery in Bloomington, IN.
Juror Makeda Best, Curator of Photography, Harvard Art Museum shares her insights:
This year’s Curator’s Choice awards were notable for their unique pursuit of issues related to citizenship and belonging, gender, place, historical memory, ecology and sustainability. They looked closely at the immediate world around them and the people in it. In the lives of their mothers, or even in the interiors of cars, they illuminated a profound and mundane significance. Vivid, poignant, surprising, brave, and critical – from a story of culture and migration through teenagers living in New Mexico to a retracing of aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart’s ill-fated flight around the globe to documents of a dwindling plant species, what united the submissions was impeccable technical execution through a variety of approaches including camera-less images, tintypes, studio-based images, and panoramas. The submissions introduce new vantage points through which to rediscover everything from our planet to the graphic beauty of paper torn from surfaces on the streets of Paris. The strongest submissions were innovative, well edited, focused and cohesive projects that successfully utilized the images as carriers of meaning as opposed to relying heavily on technical flourishes, descriptive texts and captions. What is unforgettable, finally, is the resounding commitment to photography as a tool for connection.
Astrid Jahnsen’s works ask us to reconsider the visual culture of everyday life and to locate the alternative stories therein. The stories, or the pictures, are not just merely about the overlooked, they are elegant and nuanced in their own right.
Makeda Best is the Richard L. Menschel Curator of Photography at the Harvard Art Museums. Her forthcoming book on Civil War photography will be published in 2020 by the Pennsylvania State University Press. Her most recent exhibition was Time is Now: Photography and Social Change in James Baldwin’s America.
Visual memory has been the raw material of my works. In them I understood that images always have an intention that allows not only a re-reading, but also a rewriting.
The historical narrative is just a narrative and not a reality. Behind the discourses there is always a voice, a situation, an age, a gender and a time, which are personal truths and which have the power to influence the life of society, shaping its customs.
This flexibility of information is what I use to reconstruct histories and transform historical or personal documents, presenting perspectives that were omitted, characters that were overlooked, creating potential events that never took place, or changing a discourse’s intention.
In this process, I understand, for example, that women’s gaze was absent, and that historically it has been through the male gaze that she has known and understood the world, and even herself, and that by changing the intention of an image I also change its reading, transforming memory into critique.
The voices of the past can always be reinvented.
Astrid Jahnsen is a Peruvian artist that has dedicated the last ten years to create projects that seek to understand the relation between photography and history better. In her last works, she started to rewrite history using his camera to construct a historical woman point of view.
This year, she has been selected to participate in Plat(t)form 2019 at the Winterthur Switzerland Photomuseum, and her latest exhibition On Your Knees was nominated as one of the best photography exhibitions in Lima in 2018. She was one of thirty photographers invited to Codice MIA at the photographic fair in Milan. In June 2019, Astrid has been invited to participate in a collective exhibition at the Centre de la Photographie Genève, and in October, she will present her solo show Backdrop at the Luis Miró Quesada Garland Municipal Gallery in Lima that will run until the end of December.
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