10.10. - 03.12.2015
Valerie Stahl von Stromberg
Press Release, 20 October 2015
Kos Dibonds is an exhibition of artist Valerie Stahl von Stromberg at Pantaleonsmuehlengasse in Cologne.
She has been working for over two months on the island of Kos establishing an NGO with the name KRNYH (kos refugees need your help).
Here are 24 Dibonds presented in Cologne. Dibonds are photographs mounted on aluminium with a perspex sheeting reminding us of the composition of mobile phones and other screenlike surfaces and reproducing the artists situation. The source images are 72x72 pixels, which is the resolution of a screenshot. In addition, the Dibonds shown are screenshots of the artists correspondence on Facebook.
Mobile phones are a direct and only connection source of many refugees to their families in Syria, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, worlds left behind in devastation. Containing photographs of places destroyed, home and memories. These memories and hopes and tools for logistics and financial organization are contained in an object ranging from small Motorola to IPad- size things 10cm-20cm ranging. An object made up from plastic, metal, cable, lithium, pigments and scratches, wears and tears that tell the story of their journeys.
The other work in the show is a sculpture/object. “Compass ear” (2011) is a CNC- fabricated object deriving from a 3-D scan of an ear and a compass merging into one object. In this exhibition the “Compass ear” stands as a metaphor for a feeling of orientation, security and a sense of direction.
The documentary photography responds to an emotionally dense working environment in Kos. A documentary approach figures also in other works of the artist when she has visited coalmines in Luoyang China and Ferro Silicone production sites in Inner Mongolia - unusual in this case are the several simultaneous functions of the artist from within the community.
... finally leading to the artist’s decision to disprove potential questions about the separation of the disciplines.
The humanitarian work is focusing on first aid needs and a mediation between the local communities of Kos and the refugees and migrants arriving on the island. The refugees are coming from different ethnic communities within countries. Often they would not share the same room in their home country, which can simultaneously be a reason they left. Its is unusual to have these nationalities meet here for the few days they are staying, having to accommodate to food lines. There has never been an accumulation of refugees in this manner. Languages spoken are Urdu, Pashto, Kurdish, Arabic, Farsi, Dari and many others. In the context of worldwide humanitarian aid this is a unique and unusual situation of refugees arriving on a small island coming from these diverse places and communities.
The UNHCR , IOM and other actors are all confronted with a new situation where there is no prefab formula of humanitarian aid that can be applied.
Appendix from Sandra Bürgel in Berlin:
Valerie Stahl von Stromberg (born 1976, grew up in Cologne) parts from the topoi and ensured tradition of classical photography. The fact that her images preserve a human keynote corresponds to the tradition of photography. However, what discharges them from social well-being on the one hand and from typological documentation on the other hand, is their fascination for the harshness, durability and isolation of human thinking, and the desire to fathom it in many impulses and constants. The works deal with what is available to mankind. Often their choice of motifs is indebted to tools, cultures or natures.