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“ANNEMARIE SCHWARZENBACH: SELECTED PHOTOGRAPHS 1933-1940”
FEB. 7 – JUNE 2, 2005 AT QUEENS COLLEGE’S GODWIN-TERNBACH MUSEUM
-- Rarely Seen in the U.S., Works by This Rebellious Swiss Photojournalist
Include Photos of Iraq, Afghanistan and Depression-Era America --
FLUSHING, NY, January 26, 2005 – An exhibition of 100 photographs by the Swiss photojournalist and cult figure Annemarie Schwarzenbach will open at the Godwin-Ternbach Museum at Queens College in Flushing, Queens, on February 7, 2005. The museum director and curator, Dr. Amy Winter, will conduct a free tour on Wednesday, February 16 at 12:30 pm.
Celebrated abroad and the subject of numerous films and books, Annemarie Schwarzenbach (1908-1942) led a short but intense life marked by conflict, drug addiction, unhappy lesbian affairs—and prodigious talent as a photographer and author. Only recently has she become known beyond the German-speaking world. This exhibition—one of the first to present Schwarzenbach to the American public—documents her travels through Europe, the United States, and the Middle East during the 1930s, on the verge of World War II. It provides a glimpse into the heart and mind of this singular and multi-talented individual whose life was both unusual and tragic.
“Schwarzenbach’s photo-reports represent some of her most interesting work as a correspondent and photographer,” says Barbara Lorey de Lacharriére, curator of the original exhibition, which toured throughout France and was briefly shown at the Swiss Institute in 2002 and the Chicago Cultural Center in 2003.
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Camels and Wandering Nomads in Southern Iraq
"Her photos bear witness to Europe as it fell into the dark years of National Socialism and the America of mass unemployment, union protests, and rural devastation during the Great Depression,” says Lorey de Lacharriére. “They reveal her keen political observation of the ‘shadow sides’ of Europe, and American prosperity from the perspective of a European.”
The exhibition at the Godwin-Ternbach Museum expands the repertoire of the original exhibition to include photographs made by Schwarzenbach on her overland travels through Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan, which, along with her writings, have been widely shown and published in Europe in the past decade.
Born into one of Switzerland’s wealthiest families, Schwarzenbach led a life of rebellion
and struggle. Involved with socially engaged and left-wing journalism at a young age, Schwazenbach was among a small group of photographers working in the relatively new genre of photojournalism. She frequented Berlin literary circles, where she became friends with Klaus and Erika Mann.
Restlessness and internal conflict were always with her. Schwarzenbach’s constant urge to travel throughout the world was compounded by her drug dependency and passionate but tormented lesbian affairs that scandalized her marriage to French diplomat Claude Clarac. Her novels, diaries, and photographs give moving evidence of that era’s “lost generation.” After a number of suicide attempts and a prolonged depression, Schwarzenbach died at the age of 34 in a bicycling accident.
“Schwarzenbach’s work and dramatic biography, combined with current national and global politics, make this a compelling and timely exhibition,” says Amy Winter, the Godwin-Ternbach director, who helped to expand the exhibition.
“Schwarzenbach has become a cult figure in European circles similar to Frida Kahlo in America,” Winter continues. “She was an exquisite if tormented individual who held fascination for many of her contemporaries such as Thomas Mann, who called her the ‘ravaged angel,’ and Roger Martin du Gard, who thanked her ‘for walking the earth with the beautiful face of an inconsolable angel.’ Writers like Carson McCullers dedicated novels to her, while others described her as a ‘noble being of captivating charm.’ Her European photographs are chilling but aesthetically gripping, and her American photographs are on a par with the social documentary work of Farm Security Administration (FSA) photographers like Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Ben Shahn, and Arthur Rothstein.”
A small catalogue will publish a selection of Schwarzenbach photographs and writings—translated into English for the first time.
Symposium: On March 19, from 10 am to 5 pm, a full-day symposium on Schwarzenbach’s life and work will take place in the Godwin-Ternbach Museum. Queens College and City University of New York (CUNY) faculty members from American Studies, Art History, European History, Photography, and Women’s Studies and guest speakers from other New York institutions will participate.
Both screenings will take place in Klapper Hall, Room 401 (same floor as the Godwin-Ternbach Museum).
Saturday, March 5, 2 pm. The Swiss Rebel, a documentary directed by Carole Bonstein. Using archival material, the film portrays the life of Annemarie Schwarzenbach, "scion of a wealthy Zurich industrial family that made no attempt to disguise its sympathies for the Nazi world order."
Saturday, April 2, 2 pm. Journey to Kafiristan, written and directed by Donatello and Fosco Dubini. This feature-length color film with Jeanette Hain and Nina Petri depicts the overland
journey from Switzerland to Kabul of Swiss authors and photographers Annemarie Schwarzenbach and Ella Maillart on their respective quests for refuge and spiritual enlightenment.
“Annemarie Schwarzenbach: Selected Photographs 1933-1940,” on exhibit from February 7 through June 2, can be viewed from Monday through Thursday, 11 am – 7 pm, and on Saturday from 11 am to 5 pm. Admission is free. For directions to Queens College, please visit: http://www.qc.edu/about/directions.php/
This exhibition has been supported by, among others, the Consulate General of Switzerland, New York; the Swiss Society of New York; the Literaturarchiv of the Swiss National Library, Bern; the E.T. Harmax Foundation; the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; and the Queens Council on the Arts. All photographs and writings are from the Estate of Annemarie Schwarzenbach in the Literaturarchiv, Bern.
For further information about the exhibition and programs, call (718) 997-4747.