Reconstruction of Identities


The ‘Reconstruction of Identities’ exhibition is an attempt to think of photography as an instrument of knowledge, capable of giving shape to the dynamic and polysemic concept of the ‘European identity’. 

In a continent characterised by a broad cultural diversity, where multiple nationalities, religions, ideologies, traditions and ways of life coexist, certain questions arise among its citizens: How do you stay true to the culture that has shaped your background while also finding your feet in a new world? How is identity formed, and can it be modified over time?

Our relationship with others is an important part of what makes up our identity. An individual might only feel like a citizen when recognised as such by others. The aim of this exhibition is to create a visual journey about what unites us and remains the same for all of us.

This is an open door to a dialogue between all of us, a dialogue based on a great common idea, that of a life in peace on the European continent, a participative story of a continent on the move. 

Reconstruction of Identities Exhibition 2020

2019 Open call winner

On November 25th we published our shortlist on Instagram, and a week later the final winner was found. Spanish photographer, visual artist and architect Ana Amado was chosen as the winner by our followers with more than 1200 votes.

Ana Amado, @anitadinam
© “Lideresas (Female Leaders)” by Ana Amado (2018-19)

The enormous inequality between men and women, specially in positions of responsibility and leadership, remains overwhelming. Great strides have been made, but much remains to be done. This imbalance becomes even more evident in the older women, especially those over 65, the large absentees in command posts. Although they continue to play an essential role as a support for families, taking care of grandchildren, husband and other elderly people, however, for society, they are invisible. This project aims to return the look towards them. For this, we have recreated and turned iconic or very recognizable photographs where famous male leaders are shown, in any area of society. It is important to point that those leaders have been a guide to follow in the construction of the identity of the whole humanity.

By flipping the images, the new protagonists are “Las Lideresas de Villaverde”, a group of older women from a working class neighborhood in Madrid, who together develop activities that seek to give voice and light to women in society. The title of the image is ‘Fraternal socialist kiss between Lyudmila Brezhnev and Erica Honecker. 1979’

The image speaks of European identity as it refers to a historical moment of fragmentation, not so distant in time, recalling the two Europas separated by the iron curtain, a circumstance that ended ten years later with the fall of the Berlin Wall.

In a second reading, the image speaks of the construction of gender-associated identity and aims to provoke a reflection by contrast about the inequality between men and women when we speak of leadership positions, by showing an “inverted” image of two male leaders: it highlights the historical impossibility of women, and even more older women, to occupy command posts, when they run into the famous glass ceiling, maintaining their invisibility in such spheres today.

Through this image I propose a constructive criticism about the current socio-political situation, promoting a dialogue against the growing tendency towards disunity and fragmentation in Europe, while I denounce the serious imbalance that women still suffer in the 21st century. It is convenient to remember and keep intact such idiosyncratic values of European identity as equality regardless of gender and union in diversity. – Ana Amado

The photographers

Martin Thaulow (www/IG) is a photojournalist and visual artist from Denmark. He is originally a trained visual artist. Since 2014, Thaulow has made his mark through the portrayal of refugees in both Europe and the Middle East, and he is also the founder of the non-profit organization Refugee Today.

Marine Gastineau (www/IG) is a French photographer based in Denmark, who graduated from Fatamorgana. She works as a photo editor and photographer for Poliken Publishing House. She is also the founder of the photography department in Turning Tables, where she organizes workshops and work as an educator with marginalized youth.

Sanne De Wilde (www/IG) is a Belgian photographer and World Press Photo Winner, based in Amsterdam. In 2019, De Wilde received a World Press Photo award for the portrait series “Land of Ibeji” in collaboration with Bénédicte Kurzen. She holds a Master of Fine Art from KASK in Ghent and has been exhibited at Voies OFF, Tribeca Film Festival, Circulations, Lagos Photo, Lodz Fotofestiwal and many others.

Filippo Venturi (www/IG) is a photojournalist and documentary photographer from Italy. Venturi has been exhibited throughout most of the world as well as published in a number of international newspapers and magazines including The Washington Post, Der Spiegel and Die Zeit as well as Vanity Fair.

Katerina Buil (www/IG) is an independent photographer from Spain, working with advertising photography and reportage. Buil is also affiliated with the photo and video studio Foto Nostros in Aragon that also offers courses in photography.

(c) Martin Thaulow
by Martin Thaulow, Marine Gastineau, Sanne De Wilde, Filippo Venturi and Katerina Buil

Creating connections

The camera creates connections. It can show a part of the world that is not accessible to everyone. It can drive change, serve humanity and promote empathy.

As residency photographers in the ‘Reconstruction of Identities’ project, we have been on a quest set to capture the European identity. What Europe is today … CLICK – every single frame captured when pushing the button is an engagement, representation and documentation of this. We all have our own approach, method and ways of doing, but one joint goal. To be part of the now and a voice of our time. We want to ask questions, inspire reflection and initiate dialogue.

We live in a time of separation, mistrust and societies closing around themselves. With this concern, we hope our contribution to the project can serve as a common ground bridging and driving dialogue towards a deeper understanding of coexistence and unity. That we’d rather ask questions and listen instead of judging from our own limitations and prejudices.

Our diverse contributions, be it photojournalistic, art photography or experimental, are our humble footprint of how we see Europe and its identity in the 21st century. With this work we hope our lenses have captured the past, part of today and points towards the future of tomorrow. 

⁠—  Martin Thaulow

In 2018-2020 Copenhagen Photo Festival is taking part in a Creative Europe-project with the title Reconstruction of Identities, which discusses cultural heritage and identity through the use of photography. Other than CPF, the partners are Noor (NL), Ad Hoc Gestion Cultural (ES) and the oldest Italian photo festival ‘Sifest’, which is organized by the Italian commune Savignano sul Rubicone (IT).

One of the aims of this collaboration is to build bridges between the new and the old populations of Europe and together create a European image archive, where the photos are shot by ethnic minorities and professional photographers – and then exhibited side by side.


Residency and masterclass

During Copenhagen Photo Festival 2019 we invited students from photo schools and public schools in Copenhagen as well as migrants and other dedicated youths to participate in a 3-day-workshop with the photographers Martin Thaulow, Kate Buil, Sanne De Wilde and Filippo Venturi. Apart from teaching, the four photographers also took part in a residency programme that included a visit to some of the galleries in Copenhagen as well as a networking dinner.

Here the residency photographers had the chance to meet and exchange thoughts and experiences with both the photographers and visual artists exhibiting at the festival, but also curators, gallery owners and others, who have been part of Copenhagen Photo Festival 2019. The programme aimed to build bridges between fine art photography and documentary photography as well as between the project’s partners and their respective residency photographers.