On 19 September 2018, the new show curated by Nadine Dinter, “CORPUS DELICTI – 3 contemporary views on nude photography and staging the body” will open at The Ballery, a dynamic art gallery in the heart of Berlin-Schöneberg. With new photographic works by established and rising photographers Sonia Szóstak (*1990, Poland), Steven Kohlstock (*1982, Germany), and Simon Lohmeyer (*1989, Germany), this group exhibition articulates a contemporary status quo on the subject of nude photography and staging the body. It also takes up the current discourse on how much nudity is appropriate for display on social media and in public.
Nude painting has been a major genre for centuries; the first erotic depictions in photography occurred around 1845 using the breakthrough daguerreotype process. Available through art dealers in Paris, they were taken by the likes of Eugène Delacroix, Eugène Durieu, and Bruno Braquehais. The unique, often hand-colored pieces depicted prostitutes or other women working on the edges of society.
Sometimes they are shown from behind (Oscar Gustave Rejlander, Nude, 1857 + Paul Berthier, Nude, 1865), or obscured beneath a veil (Rejlander, Two Ways of Life, 1857). Through the lens of Edward Steichen, the female body appeared as a blurry, dreamlike figure (Figure with Iris, 1902). Iconic works emerged, such as Le Violon d’Ingres by Man Ray from 1924, as well as experimental studies of the body by Martin Munkacsi, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, and later Herbert List and Edward Weston. Nude photography went from being a forbidden act with questionable protagonists to a well-respected art form. While turn-of-the-century photography depicted the body with soft, vague contours, photographers such as Leni Riefenstahl, George Hurrell, and later Herb Ritts added a magical glow and erotic sportiness to their staging of the body. With the help of archaic architecture and strict geometrical lines, nude photography reached a new level.
But what about today’s reception of nude photography? While older generations might be somewhat shy about the public display of nudity, today’s youth tends to show it all. The Internet is flooded with nude selfies and pornographic images on platforms such as YouPorn and Grinder. The act of displaying one’s own body, optimized for exposure has never been more prolific than today. Breaking taboos seems less important than acquiring as many likes, new followers, or comments as possible through this new venture.
The exhibition “CORPUS DELICTI” explores how contemporary photographers perceive and stage the body, addressing issues such as intimacy, gender, and sexuality. Joining Sonia Szóstak with her female gaze on the female body and Steven Kohlstock with the male gaze on the male body is Simon Lohmeyer with his self-portraits and depictions of couples.
Sonia Szóstak studied at the Leon Schiller National Academy of Film, Television and Theater in Poland. Her works have been shown at Galeria Carla Sozzani (Milan), A/D/O Gallery (New York), No Wódka Concept Store (Berlin), MIA PHOTO FAIR (Milan), Museum of Contemporary Art (Warsaw). Szóstak is based in Paris. – www.soniaszostak.com
Steven Kohlstock studied photography at Lette-Verein in Berlin (2007–2010) after taking his first steps as an autodidact in Barcelona. Focusing on portrait and fashion and drawing on his background in art history (studies at Humboldt University Berlin 2010–2013), his works are driven by a love of creating expressive images with sensitivity and curiosity. Kohlstock’s photographs have been published in magazines including Vogue Italia, L’Uomo Vogue, T-Magazine The New York Times Style Magazine, Vogue Spain, ID Spain, Harper’s Bazaar Spain, Focus, Spex, Die Welt, Icon and Maenner Magazine. Steven divides his time between Paris and Berlin. – www.stevenkohlstock.com
Simon Lohmeyer began his studies of life after high school by traveling the world for eight years. Modeling made his travels possible, and launched an intense relationship with photography that led him to explore its various genres of fashion, documentary, landscape, and people photography. – www.dirtydirty.me
The Ballery is a gallery and independent art space in the neighborhood of Schöneberg in Berlin. Since opening in 2014, it has aimed to present a balanced cross section of society in a dynamic format that picks up a variety of artistic approaches. The Ballery places a strong focus on presenting perspectives that support diversity and equality within the community. – www.theballery.com
CORPUS DELICTI – 3 contemporary views on nude photography and staging the body
With works by Sonia Szóstak, Simon Lohmeyer and Steven Kohlstock
Curated by Nadine Dinter
Opening: Wednesday, 19 September 2018, 7 pm
Duration: 20 September – 21 October 2018