PAOLO PELLEGRIN - UN'ANTOLOGIA
Retrospective of the Magnum-Photographer
31.10.19 - 1.3.20
HOUSE OF PHOTOGRAPHY
Paolo Pellegrin is known today as one of the world’s leading documentary and conflict photographers. A winner of many awards and the Robert Capa Gold Medal (among many others), he has been a full member of Magnum Photos since 2001. The career-spanning exhibition PAOLO PELLEGRIN – UN’ANTOLOGIA at the House of Photography sheds new light on his creative vision. At its core is Paolo Pellegrin’s reportage photography, drawn from his personal archive and featuring work created throughout his career from the early 1990s to the present day. However, this is not a conventional retrospective.
Pellegrin has had many solo exhibitions during his long career, which commenced in 1987. UN’ANTOLOGIA was first shown at Maxxi, Rome and will be extended by further works in Hamburg. UN’ANTOLOGIA, was curated by Germano Celant, a celebrated Italian art historian, for the Maxxi, Rome. The exhibition, which will be extended by further works in Hamburg, is a meditation on the impact, consequences and legacy of the human condition, as witnessed by Pellegrin, and an exploration of his artistic vision. The combination surprises, challenges and fascinates in turn.
More than 200 analogue and digital prints, some vintage, some unpublished, are displayed in the exhibition accompanied by the bare minimum of interpretive text. Instead, the photographs are contextualized by occasional video clips shot by the photographer and a fascinating installation – created in the gallery by Pellegrin himself – which uses notebooks, sketches, prints, negatives, transparencies and printed ephemera to showcase the exhaustive process of visual research which underpins Pellegrin’s working practice. The interactive nature of the installation entices the visitor to browse and investigate, thereby experiencing something of the way in which Pellegrin works.
UN’ANTOLOGIA is a fitting tribute to Pellegrin’s lifelong engagement with the human condition, but it also serves as an important reminder that reportage photography was, is, and always will be far more than simply a medium for news and information.
Paolo Pellegrin’s work is often defined as »concerned journalism«. His subjects are diverse, including urban poverty, disease, natural or environmental disaster and conflict of the most hateful nature in every corner of the world. But all his stories are defined by an urgent imperative to bear witness to suffering and resilience.
The books, which Pellegrin has published in the course of his career, offer numerous examples of this point. Double Blind, the product of a period spent in Lebanon in 2006 on assignment for Newsweek and The New York Times, dwells on the suffering of the Lebanese who were exposed to daily air strikes from which they could not hide. Pellegrin’s coverage of the Kosovo conflict, as featured in his book Kosovo, 1999-2000 The Flight of Reason, emphazises the displacement, confusion, and misery of people at the mercy of forces beyond their control. Other books, such as As I was Dying (2008) or Dies Irae (2011) present a broader range of subjects, but are united by Pellegrin’s imperative to bear witness for the benefit of present and future generations. Pellegrin’s latest book, Paolo Pellegrin, edited by Germano Celant and published by Silvan Editoriale, is available in an English language edition.
Photo: Civilians sift through the rubble looking for survivors following an Israeli air raid. Beirut, Lebanon, 2006
© Paolo Pellegrin/Magnum Photos
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