On 1 June 2016, the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin opened its summer exhibition. The title of the exhibition, Alice Springs: The MEP Show l Helmut Newton: Yellow Press l Mart Engelen: Portraits, unites not only three photographers, but also three different photographic approaches.
Since 1970, June Newton, widow of the legendary photographer of fashion and nudes, has also worked as a photographer, under the pseudonym Alice Springs. She and Helmut Newton have frequently exhibited their works together, especially their joint project “Us and Them”. In 2010, the first Alice Springs retrospective was hosted at the Helmut Newton Foundation; now, her second retrospective, organized in 2015 by the Maison Européenne de la Photographie (MEP) in Paris, will also be shown in Berlin and accompanied by a book published by TASCHEN. In more than 100 portraits of her fellow photographers – including Richard Avedon, Brassaï, Ralph Gibson, and of course Helmut Newton – as well as other celebrities such as Nicole Kidman, Audrey Hepburn, Christopher Lambert, and Claude Chabrol, Alice Springs succeeds in capturing not only the look of the represented, but also their aura. The wordless dialogue that leads to such extraordinary portraits seems to stem from a kind of spiritual kinship. Intense portraits in both black & white and color are complemented by an expansive series of street photographs shot along Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, where Alice Springs attentively documented California’s developing punk and hip-hop scenes in the 1980s. Anarchic youth culture, at times characterized by radical hairstyles and shrill body piercings, rejected the notion of capitalist society. Only a few years later, this musically and fashion- based protest movement in California subsided. What remained of it is the artistic inventory now on exhibit, where the punks posed and the photographer directed. The images exude a sense of empathy for their human subjects, and it is the noticeable mixture of rapport and curiosity that continues to make the work of Alice Springs interesting today.
Alice Springs – The MEP Show
Helmut Newton Foundation, Berlin
June 1, 2016 – May 14, 2017