OFF THE MARGINS
Stefanie Zofia Schulz
“Off the Margins” is an international group exhibition organized within the project “From St. Germain to EU – 100 years of a border” with the support of the Europe for Citizens Programme. The exhibition is curated by Barbara Gregov, Luja Šimunović and Lea Vene from the partner organization Organ Vida and it features works by artists Stefanie Zofia Schulz (DE), Verena Blok (NL), and Marvin Bonheur (FR).
Focusing on teenagers and the youth population in general, the artists contemplate different aspects of European migration policies – from specific experiences of labor migration, asylum seeking and life in migrant settlements to wider issues of migrant work, discrimination and racism. The exhibition also aims to reexamine the dominant documentary approach to the topic – selected projects tackle it through staged photography, street, “snapshot” photography and film.
“From St. Germain to EU — 100 years of a border” is an international project with partner organisations Društvo za evropsko zavest (SI), Fotoklub Maribor (SI), Organ Vida — International Photography Organization (CRO), Associació cultural Ull per Ull (ES) and Österreichische Gesellschaft für Kinderphilosophie (AT). The project is co-funded by the Europe for Citizens programme of the European Union.
The European Commission’s support for the production of this publication does not
constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors,
and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the
information contained therein.
Stefanie Zofia Schulz – Duldung/Toleration
As part of her artistic project, Stefanie Zofia Schulz regularly visited the inhabitants of the largest refugee and political asylum seekers center in Germany. “Toleration/Duldung” focuses attention on children who are growing up in these centers and considered “tolerated” people. During her investigations at the “Lager” (as the center is known by the locals), she met people who have lived there for nearly fourteen years even though the accommodation was originally intended to simply be a temporary solution. For most young people interviewed as part of this work, the camp has become their home.
Stefanie Zofia Schulz was born in Germany in 1987 in a housing estate for migrants escaping from Russia and Poland. She graduated from the Ostkreuzschule in Berlin in 2013. Her photographic practice focuses on the documentation of important social issues and the human condition. Schulz presently lives and works in Berlin.
More info is available here: https://www.stefaniezofia.de
Verena Blok – Robota
The film’s title, Robota, is the Polish word for manual labor, and it has remained associated with arduous physical work despite the former socialist government’s effort to imbue the word with a noble, positive meaning. With attention to Poland’s transformation from a Soviet satellite to a capitalist nation following the fall of the Berlin Wall, Blok considers how the body, which had historically been seen as a tool for building the socialist state, now functions to accumulate individual capital. Frequently filming the men in extremely closely cropped frames, she fragments their bodies and focuses on specific movements—the flex of a bicep or twitch of a shoulder blade—drawing attention to the machinic quality of the body in motion. Asserting an eroticizing gaze, Blok captures the tension between looking and being looked at, reversing the stereotypical gendered power dynamic of a male creator behind the camera and a female objectified body in front of it. Sound and image are rarely in sync, resulting in a jarring discordance when shots of the idyllic landscape are combined with the men’s candid expressions of outright racism. However, the brothers’ beliefs are greatly influenced by the government-controlled media, whose construction of a Polish identity based on whiteness offers the men a sense of pride and power they lack when participating in Western Europe’s exploitative labor market. Blok juxtaposes shots of the brothers with footage of muscular, socialist realist sculptures of male workers in Warsaw, which the men feel resemble them, with one even declaring: “That’s me.” Yet the statues’ motionlessness contrasts with the brothers’ mobility, as well as the free-flowing capital that fills the void created by the decline of socialism.
Verena Blok (b. 1990, Netherlands) studied at the Royal Academy of Arts in the Hague and AKV I St. Joost in Breda. She was nominated for the 2017 Somfy Photography Award and was the Grand Prix Winner of the 2013 Poznan Photo Diploma Award. Her work has been exhibited at venues including Utrecht Central Station; Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam; Galeria Fotografii PF, Poznan; and Het Nutshuis in the Hague.
More info available here: https://www.stedelijk.nl/en/digdeeper/verena-blok
Marvin Bonheur – The Trilogy of Bonheur
Marvin Bonheur grew up in the “no-go zones” of Seine-Saint-Denis, where hope is in rare supply. Like everyone around him, he hung around, he played and soon realized that he would carry what he is and where he comes from all his life. In 2014, he started his project “Alzheimer”, a series on the haunted places of this area, with a 35mm compact camera. In the second part, “Thérapie”, he followed a quest to understand this area and his own identity. Today, he closes the trilogy with this chapter called “Renaissance”, revenge through images that still points to the stigmatization of origins and stereotypes. With pride and sometimes a little nostalgia, Marvin Bonheur gives us his “recipe for happiness” in three stages, the vision of his world, an honest gaze of acceptance on life in the suburb.
Born in August 1991, Marvin Bonheur grew up in Seine-Saint-Denis, Paris. At the age of 20, he started to practice photography. Between 2014 and 2018, he started to photograph his everyday life in this suburban area with his film camera. He completed a three-part project in 2018, which he called “La Trilogie du Bonheur” (The Happiness Trilogy). It tells of his memories, his everyday life and the dreams of a whole generation from working-class areas.
More info is available here: https://www.monsieurbonheurartist.com