Three up-and-coming European photographers Julia Baier, Robin Hinsch and Anna Ehrenstein.
Carla Susanne Erdmann writes regularly for art and photography publications and exhibition catalogues such as Leica Fotografie International magazine, Arte Magazine, EIKON magazine and Halle4. She has a wealth of up-to-date knowledge about the photography scene in Europe and beyond. We asked her to share with us three European photographers who have caught her eye in 2021.
Header image: Robin Hinsch: from his Wahala series: Jharia, Coalfield, Open Castmine, Dhanbad, India, 2019 © Robin Hinsch
“Everything is connected with everything,“ Robin says of his projects. In his artistic photographic practice, he focuses mainly on social-economic and political topics. His most recent series Wahala (2019-20) shows how a metaphorical incision of a subject can hit the mark, in this case, the consequences of the exploitation of oil, coal and gas in producing countries. The pictures in the series make the core of the subject clear – but without localization, pointing rather to their global contexts. In his research-based approach, subjective in its storytelling, Robin Hinch combines photography with film collages and installation techniques. This approach also becomes clear in series such as Kowitsch/Maidan (2010-ongoing), in which he accompanies the unrest in Ukraine, or Sapad (2018-2019), where he circles the concept of Europe with visually unspecific metaphors, directing the gaze not to external borders but towards the interior.
Robin Hinsch (b.1987) is an artist and photographer based in Hamburg, Germany. He studied photography in Karlsruhe, Hannover and Hamburg, and holds a master degree in photography. His work has won the International Photography Award, the Canon Profifoto Förderpreis, the Art Award of the Hamburger Börse and has been shortlisted at the Leica Oskar Barnack Prize and the Lucie Awards. Since 2017 he has been the founder and curator of Format, a vital laboratory for contemporary photography in Hamburg.
Image: Julia Baier: from her Drifting Sky series, 2021 © Julia Baier
“I am not interested in the pure image, but [to] tell stories beyond the image,“ Julia says, describing her approach. With unusual perspectives and a twinkling eye, one aim is to “bring things that don’t necessarily belong together in one picture” to create a simultaneity. Her series The Public Bathhouse (published 2002) on European swimming pool culture brought her photographs to a wider audience. But Julia proves with series like A Window to the Courtyard (2015) or Blanket Over Berlin (2020) that even in your immediate surroundings, themes are right at your doorstep, provided you look closely. She sees herself as a border crosser between reportage and artistic photography. Although she’s long worked digitally or with the iPhone, as an artist, she pursues a purist, analog approach: she doesn’t process the material further but rather tricks the algorithm of the panorama image function on the iPhone, for example. “I’m keen on seeing the playfulness and limits of the medium [more] than in inventing or manipulating it on the computer.”
Julia Baier (b. 1971) is a photographer and artist based in Berlin, Germany. She studied photography at the University of the Arts Bremen. Since 1998 she’s been working as a freelance photographer, doing assignments for national and international agencies, magazines and newspapers. She has published numerous illustrated books. Her work has won several awards, including the Second Prize architekturbild 2015, European Architecture Photography Award (2015) and the BFF Promotion Award (2003). She was nominated for the World Press Masterclass in 2003. In 2019 she joined the UP photographer’s collective.
Image: Anna Ehrenstein: from her Tools for Conviviality series: Thibaut II, 2018 (detail) © Anna Ehrenstein with Saliou Ba, Nywamwathi Gichau, DonKafele, Lydia Likibi and Awa Seck
“People’s interconnectedness is growing to a world scale, beyond and independent of borders. These crossings and hybridisation have become the accelerated everyday norm in which certain objects and technologies serve as intermediaries,“ says Anna about Tools for Conviviality (2020-21), a series produced in collaboration with Dakar-based creatives Saliou Ba, Nywamwathi Gichau, DonKafele, Lydia Likibi and Awa Seck. In her interdisciplinary practice, Anna mixes reportage and multi-layered visualisations, blurring the lines between fact and fiction – her most recent work visualises surreal future scenarios that play with the digital utopia of global connectivity. Works such as Tales of Lipstick and Virtue (2017-ongoing) employ the aesthetics of Photoshop or the layout of chat tools – to question photography as a medium of documentation and to enrich it with new means.
Anna Ehrenstein (b.1993) is a visual artist with Albanian roots who grew up in Germany. In 2017, she finished her studies in photography and arts at the University of Applied Arts, Dortmund, Germany. Her work has been shown both nationally and abroad. She has been awarded the Prix Photo of the Fondation des Treilles in France and the Price Emergentes Dst in Braga. Anna lives and works in Berlin.
About the author
Carla Susanne Erdmann works as a freelance writer, specialising in the field of photography. She is a freelance editor for Leica Fotografie International magazine. Her texts appear regularly in various publications and exhibition catalogues.