This month, I met with the curator and powerhouse, Candice M. Hamelin. I got to know Candice through our mutual friend, Miron Zownir, and have been a big fan of her work ever since.
Not only does she have a brilliant eye for photography but also a sharp mind for intriguing contexts, exciting topics, and staging photographic art. On the occasion of the group exhibition JETZT. Magnum Photos, which just opened yesterday at the renowned Reinbeckhallen in Berlin, we spoke about her career and what’s new.
Nadine Dinter: Candice, you have been working as the curator of the renowned Reinbeckhallen in Berlin from the beginning. How did you end up in this role?
Candice M. Hamelin: The Reinbeckhallen opened its doors in 2017 with an exhibition on the East German photographer Sibylle Bergemann, curated by Friedrich Loock and Katia Reich. I was still a fellow at Freie Universität Berlin and went to see the show. It was immediately clear to me that both the space and institution had a lot of potential. However, it wasn’t until 2019, after returning to Berlin from LA, where I had spent several months researching at the Getty, that I met with Sven Herrmann, the owner of the Reinbeckhallen. We discussed the direction of the Reinbeckhallen and my coming on board as its first full-time curator. The rest, as you know, is history.
You are known for setting up elaborate exhibitions with a long lead time, which are based on in-depth research. What do you consider your “masterpiece” so far?
CMH: Yes, this is due in large part to my training and spending almost a decade in graduate school in North America, first completing an MA and then a PhD. My masterpiece so far? I would have to say Berlin, 1945–2000: A Photographic Subject. The exhibition explored the different kinds of photographic practices that developed in Berlin during this period and included the work of 23 photographers, all of whom worked across different photographic genres. The show and catalogue evolved from ideas I first explored in my dissertation, and it was a real pleasure to work with all the artists and the team at the Reinbeckhallen.
On the occasion of BERLIN PHOTO WEEK, you are presenting two shows – one in cooperation with LOOCK Galerie and your own. Tell us a little more about the concept and the idea behind it.
CMH: Owing to our mutual interests, Friedrich Loock and I often collaborate on projects. We were approached by Benjamin Jaeger and Steffi Schulze about participating in this year’s Berlin Photo Week on Magnum Photos. We said yes, of course, and decided to work on one show together at the Reinbeckhallen. This show is titled Alec Soth – A Pound of Pictures and features Soth’s latest body of work, one that is an exploration of the medium and of what it means to be a photographer. The other show, Jetzt: Magnum Photos, considers the various shifts that Magnum Photos, a cooperative of photographers founded in 1947, has recently undergone. It includes recent and ongoing photo-based projects – seven of which are exhibited for the first time – by 17 photographers from 11 different countries and takes place in the 1,000-square-meter exhibition hall at the Reinbeckhallen.
Both shows feature photographers from the world-famous Magnum Photos agency. Have you worked with them in the past as well?
CMH: No, this is the first time I am curating an exhibition on and with Magnum photographers.
JETZT is a presentation on the “status quo of photography, its role, and its possibilities,” seen through the eyes/lens of 17 photographers. How did you select the artists, and what do they have in common?
CMH: I wanted to curate a show that included image makers concerned not only with documenting multiple experiences and modes of being across continents and countries, but also with finding new ways of working and reaching out to audiences interested in contemporary issues and their photographic representation. All 17 photographers meet these requirements.
Apart from the framed works, will there be any interactive elements for visitors to discover?
CMH: I don’t want to give everything away here, but there are several films and image-based works that include audio and sound elements. There are also books made for children.
Will the shows go on tour?
CMH: Both Magnum Photos and the Stiftung Reinbeckhallen are hoping that Jetzt: Magnum Photos will travel in 2023, but nothing can be confirmed right now. As for Alec Soth – A Pound of Pictures, the Art Lab at the Reinbeckhallen is its one and only stop.
What do you have in store for 2023?
CMH: I am currently planning a major retrospective – stay tuned for more details!
And your advice to the new generation of curators?
CMH: I would simply advise the upcoming generation of curators to pursue projects that really interest them and always to follow their instincts.
For more information, please visit: https://en.stiftung-reinbeckhallen.de/
and check out Candice´s IG account @cmhameli
JETZT. Magnum Photos, 2 September – 27 November 2022, @Reinbeckhallen,
Reinbeckstr. 11, 12459 Berlin