Life Stripped Bare – Flight and Displacement in the 20th Century

5 February – 19 March 2017

Christoph Püschner was born in 1958. Following training as a retail salesman, he went on to complete his studies at the College for Photojournalism in Bielefeld. Since 1989, Christoph Püschner has worked for German news magazines and aid organisations in the countries of the former Soviet Union, the Balkan region, Africa, and the Near and Middle East. Since the summer of 1999, he has also been a member of the Zeitenspiegel reportage agency.

Frank Schultze was born in 1959 and hails from Daun in the Eifel region. He completed his studies in Photojournalism in Dortmund in 1992 and has since been working for all relevant German-language and international magazines and newspapers, including GEO, Stern, Spiegel, Chrismon, Times, Focus, Natur, Das Magazin, NZZ, and Die Zeit. Since May 2000, Frank Schultze has also been a member of the Zeitenspiegel reportage agency.

Violence and forced displacement have always been primary means of enforcing policies of ethnic or religious ‘purging’. Be it refugees on the run from terror militias, as in Northern Iraq, or climate refugees fleeing from severe drought, as in Somalia; be it stateless, displaced, or homeless people: It is always the vulnerable lives of people who hope for asylum, for the right to stay, which we encounter in the pictures by the reportage photographers Christoph Püschner and Frank Schultze. It is the life stripped bare of the ‘homo sacer’, who the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben declared the symbolic figure of the European crisis: Under Roman law, he was seen as being outside the law; but he was also considered sacred. Christoph Püschner and Frank Schultze tell these stories over and over again – in their pictures, of which every single image has its own story to tell. It is not the loud stories that dominate the headlines, but rather mute witnesses of the daily suffering in our world’s crisis zones. They are also images of a story that has long-since found its place in the middle of Europe, in the middle of Germany, as evidenced by the most recent images in the exhibition depicting refugees in Karlsruhe, Dortmund, and Simmerath. And they are stories that have also left their mark on the photographers during nearly twenty years of photojournalistic practice.