Obstinacy (2013-2018)


   © Photos and Text: Wenke Seemann

“I meet women who take a stance. Women’s and gender rights activists, journalists, artists, feminists, scientists, … I meet them in Algiers, Kyoto, in Chennai, Berlin, in Santiago de Chile, Athens, Seoul, in Tehran, Minsk or Belgrade (…). I bring my camera. A tripod, an automatic release and a mirror. I ask them to take photographs of themselves and leave the room.”

Whether in Algeria, Japan, India, South Korea or Belarus, there are women everywhere who are committed to gender equality, autonomy and self-determination. They are brave women - persistent, headstrong, unbending, consistent and self-confident. Who are these women and what drives them? Photographer Wenke Seemann has traveled to where her protagonists are at home, asked them about their lives and asked them to photograph themselves in front of a mirror and, by doing so to define their own image. What emerge from that set-up are self-discoveries, self-interpretations. As in a picture in the picture, we encounter the protagonists in their counterparts - direct looks, resting in oneself, a slightly averted posture, an upright position, a kind of posturing, trying out, procrastinating or even slight coquetting with oneself. So strong-minded in essence, so special are these portraits of themselves - intimate and yet decisive, poetic and yet clear, permeable and yet direct, artistic and yet intended as a statement. Parallelism of two worlds, - the visible and the invisible. Glances that intersect. A visualized dialogue. Who is looking at whom? The protagonists at the mirror, the camera through the mirror at the portrayed person, the viewer through the camera and the mirror ultimately at the women? Another significant facet of Seemann’s series opens up a view to the window of each apartment into the light, which she has also specifically captured with the camera - as a yearning promising and forward-looking moment. With OBSTINACY in the form of image portraits and interview texts, Seemann succeeds, in a personal and open approach, in a wonderful way to authentically counter the presence and aura of these women.

Franziska Schmidt, Art and Photo Historian, Curator & Critic, on Eigensinn | Obstinacy, Daegu Photo-Biennale 2018