Tasked with submitting a photograph on the theme "Opening Horizons" for a group exhibition in Hamburg, Germany, Shirin Abedi chose a subject familiar to the A&A community, graduate student Fatih Han. "Fatih Han opens the horizons of every person he meets," she said. "He speaks in images and penetrates the depths of their hearts with his gaze, his interest in people, and his questions."
The exhibition was organized by photographer Nicole Keller, who tasked one photographer in each of the 16 German states to riff on the "Opening Horizons" theme prompted by her own photograph of a teddy bear peaking through a curtain holding a sign that reads "I love you."
Shirin sought to show a less sanguine expression of life in Germany. "When I saw the given image for the first time, I thought of Germany's hopeful self-portrayal, in which my and many other realities are missing," she said. "For me, the image is 'too' positive, too inviting, and not critical of the racist, classist, capitalist, and patriarchal Germany that I know. My participation gives me the space to talk about my fear of racist violence in Germany, which affects many people both in Germany and at the EU's external borders."
For Shirin, Han exemplifies the negative experience of growing up with racism, bullying, and discrimination in Germany on the one hand, but also the prevailing spirit of human connection.
"What Shirin did is very dear to me," Han responded, "as she saw in me someone who is opening horizons through inquiring into the human which is also the way I approach my research in general. The intention is not to become an art historian for art historians but an art historian for all."
The exhibition is on view from September 28 through October 16, 2023, at Levantehaus Hamburg, Mönckebergstraße 7, Hamburg.