Café Lehmitz in pictures, a vivid experience

Anders Petersen. Café Lehmitz. 1967-1970



In this occasion, PhotoEspaña 2017 has given `carte blanche´ to the renowned photographer Alberto García-Alix to design an exhibition with his influential artists, in order to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Festival. These selected artists will show their works in Círculo de Bellas Artes, Museum of Romanticism and CentroCentro Cibeles. They are Antonie d'Agata, Pierre Molinier, Paulo Nozolino, Teresa Margolles, Karlheinz Weinberger y Anders Petersen.




Anders Petersen. Café Lehmitz. 1967-1970


Anders Petersen (Stockholm, 1944) approached to art through painting and writing, and after meeting Christer Ströholm he started with photography. He studied in several art schools in Stockholm and collaborated as a photographer in numerous swedish publications. He worked as a teacher at the Cinema and Photography University of Gothemburg, Sweden. Petersen has received numerous grants and rewards since the seventies, and regularly organises workshops and exhibitions throughout Europe, Asia and in the USA. In 1978, he published `Café Lehmitz´ in Germany. With this book he reached international recognition and the information that it presents is enhanced by the photographs in the current exhibition.



Anders Petersen. Café Lehmitz. 1967-1970



Anders Petersen´s photographs describe in a very human and familiar way the life of Café Lehmitz, a bar that the artist found in Hamburg's Red Light District. This local was the meeting point of prostitutes, transvestites, drug addicts and indigents. There, they developed their life stories and relationships, in which the artist took part during three years. He developed his project between 1967 and 1970 and when it was finished was exhibited for the first time on the same bar. This project was considered a key element in european urban photography.



Anders Petersen. Café Lehmitz. 1967-1970


CentroCentro offers the visitor the chance of becoming part of Café Lehmitz´s extraordinary world, living a night with its extravagant protagonists throughout the exhibition. It can be visited on the fifth floor until September 17th.



Among the specialised professional profiles that we find in the cultural sector, and more specifically, in the field of visual arts, one of the most recent occupations is that of the curator. The ‘80s put attention on the role of the artist, with its innovative character and the enhancement of its figure as an essential articulator of creative proposals, while the end of the century moved the interest towards the exhibition centres themselves and their work as custodians of current production and as spaces to accommodate all proposals. The change of millennium strongly introduced in this panorama the role of the curator. Perhaps together with a social identity crisis, perhaps with the complexity that contemporary projects are currently acquiring, the need for building, articulating and delving into artistic discourses became evident.

Although the functions entrusted to this profession are not entirely new, since previously they belonged to conservatives, critics or experts according to the themes, the role has gained solidity because it combines all these purposes while allowing the specialisation of other professionals in their fields of competence. Now, as some curators themselves point out, the genuine spirit of this figure, who was born to facilitate the understanding of the discourse, create narratives within a sometimes chaotic and scattered context, mediate between the works and the spectator and create bridges between contemporary art and society.

The art of our day raises a multitude of unknowns for the visitor who must face proposals many times away from the aesthetic standards, which gives way to uncertainty and confusion; but, in turn, these works employ a closer language, materials and even compositions detached from the sophistication and the technical display of yesteryear, something that, far from favouring proximity to the message, generates some distancing. What we have just described is part of the very essence of current art. The questioning of the formalist guidelines and the recourse to tangible elements that are more utilitarian than embellishing are the new criteria of creation, where, above all, the message to be conveyed stands out.

Likewise, another inherent characteristic of the work of our time is the artists' concern for more immediate themes, for social, political and economic issues that seek to create a narrative and conceptual revulsion, leaving behind the aesthetic priority or, rather, making of the message its own aesthetic. In this context, strange as it may seem, contemporary creation encounters a linguistic barrier hindering the viewer's understanding. And to this circumstance, the abundant current production is added, covering a wide range of themes that are nothing more than a transcript of our diverse and globalised society.

The curator helps to facilitate this understanding by articulating a coherent discourse that allows the grouping of related ideas to set up the message. This requires to have an in-depth knowledge of the current state of the art, the lines of work of the creators, the most recent aesthetic proposals and the real demands of society to bridge the dialogue and allow the approach to art. If art deals with the same issues that concern us all, how can we not share its postulates? Cultural mediation requires the work of the curators to open a small window for reflection and to enable a space for exchange and idea generation. We share the thought that José Guirao expressed in a recent interview: "The curator is someone who reveals something new, and it would be a mistake for curators to become managers."

Understood this way curator’s role, many institutions have joined the trend of creating specific calls for new professionals to give light to their proposals. Let us remember, as an example, the call "Unpublished" of La Casa Encendida, or "Curator wanted", of the Community of Madrid or the call of Curating of La Caixa.