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Did you know that only about half of the photographs in the Behind the Wall collection are displayed in our current exhibit? We selected and installed twenty-two photographs by Helmut Brinkmann and Page Chichester, taken during their travel to East Germany in 1989/90. But Fenwick Library actually has fifty-three photographs in the collection. We just couldn’t fit everything! You can browse the entire collection online.

Nothing beats seeing the work in person, so we hope that you will visit us in Fenwick Library (1st floor, Wing A) to see the exhibit. If you can’t make it, check out this gallery featuring the images selected for display:

25 years later

Photographers Page Chichester (left) and Helmut Brinkmann (right)pose at the Berlin Wall with hammers. Photograph possibly taken by an unknown passerby.

Photographers Page Chichester (left) and Helmut Brinkmann (right)pose at the Berlin Wall with hammers. Photograph possibly taken by an unknown passerby.

On November 9th, 1989, the Berlin Wall came down, reuniting families and friends that had been separated since 1961 and beginning a process by which the starkly divergent East and West Germany would be made one country again.

In honor of the 25th anniversary of this momentous event, Fenwick Gallery is proud to announce our upcoming exhibit, Scenes from Behind the Wall: Images of East Germany 1989/90. 

The exhibit features a selection of photographs by Page Chichester (who grew up in Culpeper, Virginia) and German photographer Helmut Brinkmann. One evening in December 1989, over drinks and a televised fußball match, Chichester and Brinkmann decided that they would go to East Germany. “The two stayed up all night planning their hastily-conceived trip.  At Noon on December 29th the two took off in a Volkswagen van carrying cameras, film, and very few provisions.” [1]

Beginning October 13th, visit Fenwick Gallery to see this incredible look inside East Germany just weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

More about the artists:

Page Chichester was born in New Jersey in 1959 and grew up in rural Culpeper, Virginia. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. After a two-year stint as photo editor at a wildlife-conservation magazine in Washington, D.C., he spent five years in West Germany, where he worked as a freelance photographer. He returned to Washington, D.C., in 1990 to work as a photojournalist for the National Audubon Society’s television productions department, photographing four books including one on the African elephant. He then became editor of Virginia magazine, formerly Virginia Southwest. He freelanced in Roanoke, Virginia, for several years before moving to Bonn, Germany, with his family. The tides of change have swept them to Berlin, and today, Chichester is part of the subcontracted photography crew on various cruise ships. Chichester’s photography has appeared in museum and galleries in Athens, Berlin, Bonn, Washington, D.C., and Virginia, as well as in state, regional, and national publications.

Helmut Brinkmann was born in 1951 in Duisburg, part of the coal-mining region (Ruhr Pot) of the former West Germany. He has been a professional photographer since 1979. In addition to his commercial, portrait, and architectural photography, he has exhibited numerous projects in Duisburg, Hamburg, Bonn, Greece, and Spain. In 1972 Brinkmann won the prestigious Bundesfotopreis (National Photo Award). A series of his hand-colored postcards was published as a book, Verwandlungen (Changes), by one of Germany’s foremost art publishers, DuMont Verlag. He was among the photographers chosen for the 1991 exhibit Five Bonn Photographers, is a member of the Bundesverband Bildender Künstler (National Assn. of Artists) and is listed in the Bonn Artists Directory. His work has been published in Stern, Die Welt, and other major magazines and newspapers, and he has taught photography for several years in high schools in and around Bonn. Brinkmann has traveled extensively through the former East Germany since 1989.

Biographical information is from the exhibition catalog: Chichester, Page and Helmut Brinkmann. Scenes from Behind the Wall: Images of East Germany, 1989/90. Floyd, Virginia: The Jacksonville Center for the Arts, 2012.


Final thoughts on Call & Response

A class visits the gallery.

Today is the final day of the 6th annual Call & Response: In 24 hours everywhere the dawn rises againI asked curators Helen Frederick and Susan Tichy to give us some final thoughts about the show.

Anne Smith: Working together to put on a collaborative show such as Call & Response is a collaborative effort in itself. How would you describe your collaborative partnership? How did it come to be? 

Helen Frederick: Susan and I met over 7 years ago when I learned about her course “Book Beasts” and she learned about my course “Artist Books as Visual Language (now “Paper, Print and Books as Visual Language”). We were interested in sharing resources and students between our classes, and began to invite the students to show the works for final reviews in the School of Art print studio. The first true exhibition that we organized for the 123 Gallery located in the Johnson Center was called “Material Word”. Our collaborative efforts were scaled to suit our artistic and writing interests in selecting the students, installing the works, titling the show and soliciting interested parties to join us from the campus, alumni and the public. This has continued to be a rich collaboration every year and the program/exhibition continues to grow in context and audience participation. It is a joy and always stimulating to work with Susan and her ideas, her students and also come to know more about her own writing and teaching pedagogy.

Susan Tichy: It’s always a great experience collaborating with Helen. Our ideas are just similar enough, and just different enough, to create a fertile space in which to work. When our respective schedules allow, we also continue to bring our classes together for conversation and critique. In developing Call & Response over the years, enlarging participation and extending the length of the exhibit, the support of Fall for the Book also has been crucial. The festival is a perfect backdrop to the exhibit, and provides us with publicity as well as funding.

AS: Why do you think it is important that visual artists and creative writers be in dialogue with one another?

 Artists may stumble over or often are limited in words and writers are often unsure about expressing themselves visually. The Call and Response tradition is such a powerful means of communication. Underneath every collaboration, research seems to bubble up, a dance begins between the caller and responder, and new work is created that satisfies creative underpinnings for both parties. In fact Susan and I collaborated on three artist books ourselves for the Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here book exhibition now showing at the American University in Cairo. We experienced some of the same “catalytic” enjoyment and expansion of ideas found in professional collaboration that the students also experience and grow into new statements, forms, and accomplishments in their works. Because graduates, undergraduates, faculty and alumni are all in dialogue in this project, there is a very rich sharing of ideas that circulate and advance thinking for future creative work, along with expression of deep and valuable interpretive nuances that come forth in the panel discussions.

ST: For many of our writers and artists, Call & Response is their first experience in collaboration—especially across art forms—and their first glimpse back stage, so to speak, in another art form. They are excited to explore the creative process through another’s eyes and to witness each other’s work developing and taking form. More often than not, collaborators who had never met before we paired them feel as if they have found a perfect collaborator for this and perhaps for future projects.

Also, for writers, this is a chance to see how an exhibit is composed, how to work with a given gallery space and make the show more than the sum of its parts. Neither should we forget the long history of writers and artists taking formal, as well as thematic, inspiration from each other. Each year’s show has a theme, which participants interpret as they wish, and we’re always eager to see what they have been thinking about; but it’s equally interesting to see how collaborators respond to each other’s forms, methods, and materials.

AS: This is the first year that Call & Response is being exhibited in the Fenwick Gallery. What influence does this new context have on the Call & Response show? 

HF: YES I think the library has offered a very different context for the exhibition and that more students and visitors to the library are noticing and reflecting on the work, perhaps in a more serious way. Certainly the exhibition is accessible to many more and diverse audiences who are not distracted by other activities as they were, when entering Gallery 123 from the food court.

As the new library is completed I hope our exhibition will continue in a formal setting, and certainly we are very pleased for all the courtesies offered to us in regards to our exhibition and panel being part of the Fall for the Book programs being held in the Fenwick Library this year. It was so rewarding for the exhibition participants to have a large audience attend the panel this year and follow-up comments have been glowing in praise of the show and panel. I would not doubt that word about our efforts will be spread to more folks and hopefully attract some new participants for next year’s program.

ST: Oh yes, I agree it is a tremendous change. It was challenging at first, to envision and design an exhibit for such a different space; but the library offers a larger and more diverse audience, with potential for great collaborations of a different kind. We’ve been working for several years with our resource librarians, Jenna Rinalducci in Art and Jen Stevens in English, to expand our students’ awareness of what the library offers, particularly in Special Collections. And of course we’re thrilled by the creation of the position you now hold, Anne! We look forward to discovering how we can work together with the whole library team. It was also great to have the exhibit up for a month, which allowed more faculty members to fold Call & Response into their syllabi and assignments. We have a few loyal colleagues who have sent their students to the exhibits for years, and we are always looking for new ways to reach out to faculty. I think the library setting will help build that community.



Highlights from the Call & Response Gallery Talk

One thing is for sure: next year we’ll need a bigger space to hold the Call & Response Gallery Talk.

On September 17th, five pairs of artists and writers from the Call & Response exhibit delivered an engaging discussion of their work to a packed house. The collaborators — whose work is exhibited as part of the “6th Annual Call & Response: In 24 hours, everywhere the dawn rises again” — spoke about their inspirations, their early discussions over coffee, and the surprises that came about as a result of working together in a call and response tradition.

The panel discussion was part of the 2014 Fall for the Book programming. Professor/Curators Helen Frederick (School of Art) and Susan Tichy (English Department) moderated. This year’s panelists were:

Benjamin Brezner & Sarah Zuckerman
Qinglan “Q” Wang & Alice Quatrochi
Rahshia Sawyer & Sarah Winn
Sean Pears & Marianne Epstein
Marcos L. Martínez & Ariel Rudolph Harwick

Check out these highlights from the talk: