Nine photographers, the Danube and one vision.
A woman with visions.
Documentary photography was purely a masculine domain for a long time until Austrian-born Inge Morath discovered her love of photography in 1951. In the following years until 1954 she acted as an assistant to the French photographer and co-founder of the Magnum Photos agency, Henri Cartier-Bressons, and became the first female photographer there in 1955. In the years that followed, her photographic work led her to far-flung countries. With her professional eye, she focussed her camera on Europe, North Africa, the USA and the Middle East in particular. The impressive photos appeared in photographic essays which were published in numerous magazines and books. All of her projects were completed with great passion, but it was to the Danube region that the pioneering photographer lost her heart.
A love without limits.
Inge Morath’s fascination for the Danube lay in its geography: As the second longest river in Europe, it flows through ten countries, its waters uniting very different cultures whilst separating others. “I love voyages. Voyages where the going from one place to the other informs, allows one to go deeper. One day, in May of the year 1958, it became clear to me that to follow the Danube from its source to its end was one of those inevitable voyages.”
Several years have passed since Inge Morath documented life in the river region before and after the fall of the Iron Curtain. A great deal has changed in the meantime. This summer nine photographers started a journey into the past, immersed themselves in the memories of Inge Morath and continued her photographic legacy along the Danube.
Heartfelt wish. Then and now.
“Danube Revisited – The Inge Morath Truck Project” is two things: on the one hand it is a travelling exhibition, which presents the work of Inge Morath inside a converted Mercedes-Benz Truck and on the other it is an opportunity for nine documentary photographers to discover the Danube region through their own viewfinder. The road trip brings Inge Morath’s photographs taken along the Danube to their place of origin. The “travelling exhibition” provides the 24 towns and communities that lie along the route on the banks of the Danube with an insight into the historical photos which in part reflect their own local history.
Night-screenings, artist lectures and photography forums are all publishing the current work of the artists that emerged during the six-week photographic journey. The result is a colourful mix of ten different perspectives of the Danube region with all of its particularities and peculiarities, then and now.
The realisation of individual dreams.
Emily Schiffer, a US-American photographer, sees this epochal fusion as an incentive to participate in the project: “I want to bring Inge’s images back to their source, to see the reactions of people from the region, and use my camera to negotiate the intersection of the past and the present.” Ami Vitale is particularly pleased to be working with the other great artists. The project also reminds her of her early beginnings in the photography industry, when she was not bound by contracts but photographed solely to discover and to learn: “In this project there is no concrete story and there are no parameters on what I must shoot. It is liberating to have this kind of intellectual freedom.”
All nine documentary photographers are award winners of the scholarship, which is awarded annually in the name of Inge Morath by the Magnum Photo agency. Jessica Dimmock, a photographer from the USA, wanted to express her immense gratitude through her participation: “I wanted to participate in the road trip because the Inge Morath award was a very important part of the beginning of my career. I was quite new to photography at the time and the award really gave me the confidence and encouragement to continue on with my work.” Inge Morath is a fascinating role model for these women. With her eye for expressive details and her flair for unique moments she created images that move us.
However the texts of the graduate linguist also impress. Lurdes Basolí, Spanish documentary photographer and co-founder of the project, admires Morath's profound and richly visual language, which enables the reader to directly experience what she wrote.
Photography. A passion.
From Donaueschingen, the source of the Danube, the road trip leads the nine participants to the Black Sea. Their idea of what they want to express through their photography is as different as the artists themselves. While Jessica Dimmock wants to take the viewer of her shots into a hitherto unknown world, Ami Vitale addresses in her photographs the bond between humankind across and beyond borders. Emily Schiffer puts her artistic focus on the details that make up life but which are often overlooked and overshadowed by greater events. The incentive for Lurdes Basoli is to represent the non-verbal aspects, which can only be expressed through photography.
However, they are all the same in one aspect: in their pure passion for photography. At the end of the road trip the works of Inge Morath and the nine scholarship holders will be shown in an exhibition in Salzburg as well as being published in a book – with insights into a very eventful journey.