I Was There

November 7 to December 15, 2021


Cultural and political identity can be often expressed through certain cultural signifiers such as fashion trends, beauty standards and architecture. Forming a community can be an efficient path towards defining our relationship to our environment. since it can be argued that cultural identity is shaped by inherited culture and social surroundings.

In the series "I Was There," Alireza Husseini documents contemporary German developments. His project started in Hannover, and was further extended to other cities such as Berlin, Dresden, KZ-Bergen, Kiel and Nuremberg. Pre-existing old photographs are reframed and superimposed in their original location, a process which has been germane to the thesis statement of “I was There” which can roughly be voiced as “By Looking into the past, one can see the future” Husseini’s focus has been on highlighting the timeline since the Nazi Party’s rise to power-early in its heyday-to the aftermath of the second world war in post war Germany; as well as highlighting the crimes committed in concentration camps.

In relation to present day Germany, these relics of yesterday appear near and distant at the same time. As if through a time capsule, one experiences what separates the contemporary human from its predecessors, but the question becomes “what might still unite us?”. Today’s unimaginable urban destruction can be quite jarring. The attitude of the average bystander towards the uniformed SS officers marching in front of the city’s urban structures amazes the spectator today, as history superimposed with today’s landscape is a reminder of how closely the past and present are connected.

Husseini tries to make clear that the categorical perception of identity can lead to contradiction; however, He strongly believes that these very contradictions can be quite imaginative and constructive in the cultural milieu.