The all-female collective _INNEN are using this symbolic crustacean to explore the feeling of the zeitgeist
A lobster is many things. It is a red marine animal who lives on the seafloor. It is a life-long companion, according to Friends. It is also the title of an essay by American writer and professor David Foster Wallace, which inspired photography collective _INNEN's first exhibition. Wallace’s essay delves into how the lobster became a symbol of the zeitgeist, the spirit of the times we are currently living in. If you won’t listen to me, hear it from the collective themselves:
“Somewhat a mystery, somewhat a history, the lobster is the zeitgeist. We invite everyone to find their own lobster.”
Speaking with the collective, it became clear they had set out to do something different. Almut, Steffi, Shari, Sabrina, Johanna, Polly, Sophie, and Moena came together in the summer of ‘19 to create _INNEN, an all-female girl band (not the kind that sings… that I know of). With a diverse group of women, bringing together different backgrounds, photography skills, and enthusiasm, they aim “to create a space with a feminine gaze in which we work together and support each other to realise and achieve collective projects, as well as offering diverse feedback to individual photographic work.”
With the collective currently based in Berlin, they understand how hard not only ‘making it’ as a creative can be, but also how lonely it can feel working on your own. They explain how they are all “familiar with the boundaries of the lone warrior in the field of photography and art in general. Therefore we deeply value that bringing together different individual resources creates a space which enables powerful impact.”
So what does _INNEN even mean?
We decided to call our collective “_INNEN” which carries a double meaning: in the German language, words are ordered into genders. The gender is defined by the meaning and the form of the word. For example, in English you would label a photographer just that, a photographer. In german, you have two gender defined endings for the one label; the feminine “Fotografin” and the masculine “Fotograf”. Luckily enough, the feminine suffix “innen” has another meaning which translates to “on the inside; within”. For our collective, "innen" means and offers an insight and view of oneself expressed in art. It describes, in layers, what our collective stands for.
Let’s go fishing. Tell us about Find your Lobster.
For our first exhibition, Find your Lobster, we chose the zeitgeist as an umbrella topic. Each one of us then photographically pursued a sub topic of what the zeitgeist represented to them individually. We collectively created a visual spectrum of photographic styles, techniques, and presentations, offering at the core, the many ways to see, realise, and interpret what the zeitgeist. With Find your Lobster we introduced _INNEN to the public.
Take us on a virtual tour of the exhibit. What did each artist bring to the show?
Our eight members interpreted ’zeitgeist’ in eight different ways to visually offer what moves each one of us, considering the time we live in. For her project €/qm, Almut Benedix took portraits of people in the streets of her neighborhood, a district in Berlin which suffers from strong gentrification processes. She exhibits the portraits combined with each individual rent price of ‘’euro per square meter’’ to demonstrate the huge differences of rent costs in the area of Nord-Neukölln.
Steffi Drerup documents individual tragedies of inhabitants of a small town in Greece after a disastrous wildfire which killed more than 100 people. Shari Annabell Marks reflects on the human body as a physical entity. With her highly graphical pictures she criticizes the perception of the body as a projection screen. Left(l)overs by Sabrina Radeck is an interpretation of vulnerability related to past relationships. This series shows traces of people and things which are gone, but sometimes still remain present or appear again and again.
Johanna Ribbe questions the surreal polarity of things, represented by different forms of meat in her series HAPPY. Topics of waste, memory, consumption, and the bizarre are presented in severe colours on the border of kitsch, just how she likes things to be.
Polly Roquette interpreted Nostalgia in satirical self portraits framed by a photo series of cd-leaflets from 1995, explaining the internet to its listeners. Sophie Seydel shows in Remnants a series of architectural photography. Her topic is the decay of buildings influenced by the decline of political systems in the early nineties in Namibia, Bulgaria, Armenia, and Germany.
Moena Joy-Dada Weiss questions, in her series un-verbunden, the supposed/assumed absence of commitment. As an antipode/antithesis she uses water and ropes as a symbol for connection in her pictures. Her work combines multiple techniques such as collages, assemblages, and specific printing methods.
The beauty of a collective is collaboration. How did you work together for the exhibition?
This first exhibition was a catalyst to strengthen and form our collective profile and bond. We met weekly to show our project progress, discuss hopes, worries, and logistics. Our discussions were organically built through the collective resources each individual member offered, resulting in a special and warm feeling when it came time to head home.
Each member offered to take on different areas of managing the steps necessary to realise an exhibition; marketing, finding a sustainable venue, designing and printing exhibition booklets and flyers, decorations, and curating the presentation of our projects as a group. Again, it felt wonderfully organic.
The exhibition closing party will be held Saturday 14 December from 17:00 to 20:00 at ORi, Friedelstraße 8, 12047 Berlin. Keep up with _INNEN on Instagram to see what they get up to next...