Photograd Experience: Christina Stohn

We caught up with launch Photograd Christina Stohn to find out more about the group exhibition she was a part of at Net Photo Festival in South Korea, along with her peer, Avani Tanya, and their professor Peter Bialobrzeski from the University of the Arts Bremen. Take a look at Christina's write up below to find out how she got the opportunity to exhibit during the festival and what's the key to a stress free experience...

Exhibition Catalogue

Exhibition Catalogue

Introduction

In 2014 I graduated with a BA in photography from the University of Westminster in London. I am currently studying for an MA in Integrated Design at the University of the Arts in Bremen, Germany. My focus lies on constructed documentary photography and I usually work in series. I have developed a particular interest in the practice and process of book making. 

The exhibition

The Net Photo Festival, as part of the Daegu Photo Biennale, brought together thirteen universities from Asia, North America and Europe in the first week of October. This collaboration aimed at exchanging work and ideas through exhibitions, seminars and talks. Selected works by international students were showcased in different galleries on the Bongsan Culture Street in Daegu.

The group show of the University of the Arts Bremen was exhibited at a contemporary gallery space called the Dong-Won Gallery. Our professor of photography Peter Bialobrzeski as well as my fellow student Avani Tanya and myself were on location. 

Net Photo Festival in South Korea

Net Photo Festival in South Korea

Planning

In June, Peter Bialobrzeski was invited as a curator by the Net Photo Festival team. Nine photographers from the Masters studio “Culture and Identity” were selected to showcase photographic work from our project The White City that we created in Belgrade in April earlier this year.

Based on the gallery’s dimensions, we chose works in conversation with our professor and created a floor plan. We re-arranged the display slightly, on site, adjusting to the space. 

Installation shot at the  Dong-Won Gallery, Daegu.

Installation shot at the Dong-Won Gallery, Daegu.

From the series  Pros and Cons  by Stefanie Preuin

From the series Pros and Cons by Stefanie Preuin

Experience overview and reflection

I have gained valuable insight through this group show; having everything planned out beforehand is the key to an almost stress-free experience.

The Net Photo Festival was a great opportunity to share knowledge and get informed feedback, which has been overwhelmingly positive. It proved to be a unique chance to get to know professors, students and photography programmes from around the globe. 

From the series  The rumours are true  by Christina Stohn, on show at the Dong-Won Gallery, Daegu. 

From the series The rumours are true by Christina Stohn, on show at the Dong-Won Gallery, Daegu. 

Final thoughts

I would like to thank Prof. Yong-Hwan Lee from Chung-Ang University and his team for the superb organisation of the event and their kind hospitality, Prof. Peter Bialobrzeski for making this trip happen and all his help throughout, as well as Dr. Marla Stukenberg, director of the Goethe Institut Korea, for supporting us. Last but not least all the amazing people I met during my time in Korea. 

Take a look at the 2016 Net Photo Festival Facebook page for more installation images.

Future Photograd: Christina Stohn

We caught up with Christina Stohn to find out more about her recently developed project, The rumours are true, which will be on show at the Dong-Won Gallery, Daegu, South Korea, as part of Net Photo Festival at the beginning of October (3rd - 9th). Take a look at Christina’s website where you’ll find the project. 

Christina will be taking over our Instagram account at the end of September whilst in Seoul, which we’re sure you won't want to miss! Follow us on Instagram at @_photograd to keep up to date.

The cover of Christina's upcoming book,  The rumours are true

The cover of Christina's upcoming book, The rumours are true

Series statement

It is claimed that Belgrade Waterfront, an ultramodern construction project on the inner city banks of the River Sava, will transform the Serbian capital into a global metropolis within the next 30 years. It is supposed to generate multifaceted opportunities in the realms of commerce, places to live and work as well as transport and leisure. This development is intended to attract the interest of foreign investors and create an international hub for business.

Alongside investment by the Serbian government, the Abu Dhabi based real-estate company, Eagle Hills, will contribute 68% to the €3.5 billion project. The promise is that this will benefit the economy through new jobs. However, it is unclear whether this influx of money will have any real impact on most ordinary people in Belgrade, who on average earn €400 per month.

The plans will influence the entire infrastructure of the city. The new ‘quarter’ will further gentrify Savamala, one of Belgrade’s oldest districts, whose residents will be uprooted and smaller businesses evicted. Social segregation can already be seen in the evacuation of the refugee camp Miksalište. Critics fear that the project will infringe citizens’ rights, breaking laws and violating the constitution.

The question arises whether the project is socially acceptable, given that it has been extensively financed from the national budget.

Series length

Following intensive preparatory workshops, in April this year my classmates and I from the course ‘Culture and Identity’ at the University of the Arts Bremen (Germany) went on a ten-day trip to Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. Each student developed an individual project on location, responding to the broad theme of transition. We spent the past months editing and writing about our works to put together a group publication, comprising of media such as graphic design, photography, essays, interviews and illustrations. It is called White City, which refers to the translation of Beograd, and will be published this autumn.

Series influences

Since I used to live in London for many years, I have maintained a strong interest in gentrification processes. My personal work focuses on cultural themes in urban spaces, incorporating issues of housing, redevelopment and displacement.

Researching through archives and journals, I engaged with the implications of urban restructuring in a post-socialist state. I proceeded to investigate Belgrade’s district Savamala, landmarked as historical, on the threat of gentrification and commercialisation. During fieldwork, my intention was to visualise the juxtaposition between the developing and the decaying against the backdrop of the phenomenal construction project 'Belgrade Waterfront'.

Future aims for the work

In the beginning of October, this work will be shown in a group exhibition at the Dong-Won Gallery in Daegu (South Korea), as part of the Net Photo Festival, in collaboration with the Daegu Photo Biennale. Our Master’s studio will exhibit the photographic works produced in Belgrade. In addition to it, we will present a dummy of our group publication.

I am currently working on a short-run edition for The rumours are true. However, I would like to extend this publication with diverse interviews by next year.

The plan is also to exhibit this body of work in Belgrade in the future.

Is the series finished?

The rumours are true is work in progress.

Belgrade, one of Europe’s oldest cities having a turbulent history, has attracted my interest as a vibrant metropolis. I attempt a further spatial analysis of Savalama, the ancient part of the town, once derelict and neglected. Stretching along the riverfront, the former industrial area has undergone rapid gentrification to become a creative hub over the past years. As a component of global integration, it has in it the momentum to become a determinant in the new urban landscape. I would like to explore the dynamics of physical and social change as well as the effects of political and economic transformation.

Anything else you’d like to include.

I would like to thank Peter Bialobrzeski as well as the Goethe-Institut for making it possible for a fellow student and myself, to travel to South Korea to showcase our work in early October. 

Future Photograd: Emilia Cocking

Emilia Cocking (one of our launch Photograds) has been busy making a new body of work entitled Leaving The Red City. We caught up with her to find out more about the project… 

Above images from the series Leaving The Red City

Documented along the road between two Moroccan cities, Leaving The Red City explores the increasing modernisation of a landscape routed in religious and cultural heritage. At the Western point of a three hour long motorway lies the harbour town of Essaouira. In recent years, the town has seen a growing influx of wealth through the leisure industry. Welcomed and encouraged by Moroccan political powers, a straight road was installed in order to better connect the historical seaside town to Marrakech, a major economic centre and tourist destination. Through the images in the series, we see the visual effect of a country who’s values and ideals are gradually influenced by Western ideologies; synthetic materials lie scattered amongst natural land, and commercials are carved into roadside buildings. Leaving The Red City looks to document the tensions that arise through the want to preserve traditional principles and the hope for a modern day Morocco.  

Series length
From start to finish the project has taken me two years, but making the images themselves took less than two weeks. I took the photographs whilst visiting Morocco back in 2014, but it’s taken a long time for me to figure out what I wanted the photographs to say and how I wanted the project to form.

Series influences
The process of image making was quite natural and influenced purely by place - I photographed what I saw in front of me and the concept and theory came afterwards. I made the images just after graduating in my photography degree so I think this backwards process (images first, concept second) was a subtle rejection of the creative process I was taught to stick to whilst I was at University.

Future aims for the work
I really like the idea of making the project into a small book. I’ve been wanting to self publish for a while because it opens up new possibilities and I think I’d learn even more about the images by presenting them in a different format.

Is the work finished?
Who knows.

Click here to read Emilia's previous interview with us!