babelmed - 15/06/2008
Everyone in Kreuzberg knew Mathesie. Since Charlotte Mathesie opened her studio in the Adalbertstrae in Berlin-Kreuzberg in 1945 it was known as the studio "round the corner" where you had passport photographs taken to renew the "temporary identity card", a place to visit in order to record special events: the first day at school, first Communion, the wedding, the new hairstyle, the "pretty dress", baby, dog, cat and monkey ...
Over the decades the Mathesie photo studio has seen many customers come and go. The legacy of an estimated 300,000 negatives from the period 1945 to 1983, which was bequeathed to the Kreuzberg Museum following the closure of the studio in 1993, is a testimony to this.
The changing fashions and gestures, the requisites and the technical quality of the pictures disclose a shifting in social structures. In this sense the photography is a chronometer allowing the observer to participate in the social happenings in all their various facets. The aim of the exhibition "Jetzt lcheln!" (Smile please!) is to make such a participation possible.
At the beginning it is the special story of an individual photo studio which is seen to unravel. However the material brings to light phenomena and aspects which are symptomatic of other photo studios: private, mostly non-reflected wishes concerning a personal picture come together with the photographer's own aesthetic ideas and conventions. The moment the shot is taken the private aspect merges with that which is typical of the times, individual features with the mass-produced.
The encyclopaedic principle - the registering and assigning of knowledge, data or material in an alphabetical, open structure - appears to us to be an adequate method of examining the archive which up to now has been chronologically ordered, and of presenting the various aspects and levels of our aim. The encyclopaedic matrix in the original exhibition extends from the concept "Abwesenheit" (absence) to "Zwillinge" (twins). The criteria of ordering, which intentionally bear subjective features, are oriented around historical, sociological, aesthetic and photographic categories and ideas.
The old negatives are presented in the exhibition by means of new reproduction media: we use the technology of the digitally-controlled image-processing of scanning and printing on paper web. In both the exhibition and the catalogue we always show the entire picture without simulating the part of the image selected by the photographers, the meaning of which has meanwhile been lost.
The exhibition "Smile please!" was presented for the first time in 1998 in the NGBK and the Kunstamt Kreuzberg in Berlin.
In Lebanon we incorporated in the framework of the exhibition Smile please!, photos from the archive of the Lebanese studio Al-Marj. The photographer of this studio will be present during the opening to make portraits of the visitors. These photos will be also part of the exhibition.
Smile please!" Studio Photography in the Style of Mathesie (GER) and Studio Al-Marj (LEB)
The Hangar, UMAM, Haret Hreik
Opening hours: each day from 04:00 pm till 09:00 pm
Tel: 01 - 55 36 04 or 01-422291 ext. 7014