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The first 45 years, a retrospective by Abbas in Germany


For almost 45 years I have roamed the world, in search of images of upheaval; initially political and social, then later, religious.  Retrospectives are best done when the photographer is no longer around – there will be no surprises then. Or so I thought until the National Museum of Singapore suggested I have one. It is now being shown in the Stathaus of Ulm, Germany.  As I am still roaming the world, let’s just consider this retrospective, (with some humility – who knows how many more years I shall roam?)
– Abbas

The Iranian-French photographer Abbas (*1944) took religion as his main concern. He shot the Iranian Revolution, documented Islam as a gobal phenomenon, including militant Islamism. To be able to document the everyday life of Muslims, he travelled from Xinjiang to Morocco, from London to Timbuktu, New York and Mecca. He photographed their rituals, their spirituality, and also their growing radicalisation. He deals with the spiritual power and the political significance of Christianity, as well as with Judaism. He visits animistic cultures, he explores the world of Buddhism and – in more recent times – the fourth big world religion, Hinduism.

While Abbas’ images document spiritual contemplation, they also observe the shift of religions from cultural phenomena to ideologies with the power to cause wars. They capture the tension between tradition and modernity.

Abbas has been – as the only Persian photographer – a member of Magnum Photos since 1981. His photos and stories have been printed worldwide in magazines like Stern, Newsweek, Paris Match or New York Times Magazine. A number of books featuring his work have also been published. His work is being exhibited in locations all over the world, a highlight being “The Children of Abraham”, exhibited at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo (2006). The Stadthaus exhibition offers an overview of Abbas’ work as a photographer, a career that spans more than 45 years.

The First 45 Years by Abbas
through June 28th, 2015
Stadthaus Ulm
Münsterplatz 50
89073 Ulm

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