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© Manfred Linke/laif
© Kai Löffelbein/laif
© Michael Lange/laif
© Ingmar Björn Nolting/laif
© Andreas Herzau/laif

40 Years of laif

40 Positions of Documentary Photography

12 March to 25 September, 2022

To mark the 40th anniversary of the laif photo agency, the exhibition will be showing 40 Positions of Documentary Photography. In their works, the internationally known photographers selected for this exhibition illustrate the world through its conflicts and fractures, but also show how art and solidarity can connect people. The works also reflect the aesthetic development of documentary photography from the 1980s to the present, and bring 40 years of contemporary history to life.

Whereas the photographers at the beginning of this period still treated the protests against nuclear power, rearmament and airport expansions using a classic, black-and-white style and were very close to the events, colour photography came to the fore in the 1990s, analogous to the technical reproduction possibilities of the press.

Arranged chronologically, the exhibition starts with the works of the two co-founders of the agency, Manfred Linke and Günter Beer, followed by artistic-documentary image and text works from the 1990s by Bettina Flitner, featuring people at the Berlin Wall. In her work Surface Tension  (1997) Katharina Bosse often portrays women from all over the world, while Michael Lange presents an experimental work on Los Angeles (1999), photographed on black-and-white Polaroid slide film, which can be interpreted as a homage to film noir. In his individual, cool and detached way marked by high visual quality, Henrik Spohler documents how the agricultural industry in all parts of the world produces food today (The Third Day, 2012). Sandra Hoyn visits a brothel in Bangladesh and shares the fate of the women and girls there (2015). In the end, the circle closes and the photographers revert their gaze to Germany: Hannes Jung provides a feature on the New Right (2017) with a demagogic effect, while Andreas Herzau presents his long-term work on Chancellor Merkel in subjectively combined image sections, which was first published in 2018 as a complete book. In 2019, David Klammer became a permanent chronicler of the resistance against the deforestation of the Hambach Forest, and finally, in 2020, the young Ingmar Björn Nolting traveled all over Germany, creating a unique documentary of the Corona crisis, which has deservedly won multiple awards.

The curator of the exhibition is the internationally known photo artist Peter Bialobrzeski. With the support of the laif agency’s co-founder, Manfred Linke, and of designer Sarah Fricke, an unconventional presentation will be staged at the MAKK.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication in newspaper format. On a total of just over 340 pages, this exhibition will live on after its presentation at the Cologne  Museum of Applied Arts and will be presented at international photo festivals.

On view are photo series by:
Christian Als, Christoph Bangert, Theo Barth, Günter Beer, Regina Bermes, Jürgen Bindrim, Peter Bialobrzeski, Jan-Peter Böning, Katharina Bosse, James Whitlow Delano, Barbara Dombrowski, Stephan Elleringmann, Norbert Enker, Maria Feck, Bettina Flitner, Peter Granser, Jan Grarup, Andreas Herzau, James Hill, Sandra Hoyn, Britta Jaschinski, Hannes Jung, David Klammer, Vincent Kohlbecher, Axel Krause, Dirk Krüll, Michael Lange, Paul Langrock, Frederic Lezmi, Manfred Linke, Kai Löffelbein, André Lützen, Ingmar Björn Nolting, Helena Schätzle, Henrik Spohler, Berthold Steinhilber, Andreas Teichmann, Wolfgang Volz, Gordon Welters and Michael Wolf.

About laif:
The laif photo agency was founded in 1981 by a small group of photographers based in Cologne's Südstadt quarter. The aim was to support each other in the distribution of images, in realising joint photo projects and to exploit synergies. After 40 years, laif now represents almost 400 photographers worldwide and around 40 international partner agencies, including the publishing syndication of the New York Times.

With the marketing of image licences for high-quality photographs and the arrangement of editorial and corporate shootings, especially in an international context, laif is one of Germany's leading image agencies.

The predominantly photojournalistic image pool includes high-quality portrait series of well-known personalities as well as numerous outstanding documentaries by award-winning photographers, including World Press Photo and Pulitzer Prize winners.