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Then and now: ‘Between the Worlds’ exhibition portrays Austrian women through the ages

By Tanya Raghu - May 10,2023 - Last updated at May 10,2023

A visitor looks at the images and accompanying text composing photographer Nurith Wagner-Strauss’ exhibition at the Al Mashini Cultural Centre (Photo by Tanya Raghu)

AMMAN — During the World War II, the portraits of the women displayed in the “Between the Worlds” exhibit were still young girls or children. Now elderly, photographer Nurith Wagner-Strauss captures the women’s emotions, experiences and expressions through a series of large-format pictures. 

As part of the 11th edition of the Image Festival Amman, the exhibition’s opening ceremony took place on the evening of Tuesday, May 2 at the Al Mashini Cultural Centre. The evening included remarks from curator Linda Al Khoury, Austrian Ambassador to Jordan Oskar Wüstinger, as well as photographer Wagner-Strauss. 

In this photo and audio project, Wagner-Strauss aims to answer the question, “What makes for a rich life?” The exhibition is composed of 23 black-and-white photographs which parallel portraits on a hanging glass pane. 

“The inspiration behind the photographs is these faces, and I find it so important to make them seen because actually in Austria, and in a lot of Western countries, old women are vanishing; they disappear off the thoughts of people and disappear,” Wagner-Strauss said. “I really wanted to make them seen.” 

Throughout the evening, visitors across the city visited the portraits, carefully and patiently examining the details of the images and accompanying text. 

 “The pictures are really beautiful because they reflect the real beauty of women, no matter their age,” exhibition visitor Gloria Huaman said. “The pictures show us the soul of these women, not just the faces, but the soul.” 

The women composing the series of images come from vastly different socioeconomic backgrounds, professions, and cities across Austria. All the subjects of the images have shared memories withstanding the war, but distinct responses from that time. 

“These women born between 1915 and 1935 have a lot of experience and a lot to tell,” Ambassador Wüstinger said. “A beautiful face of an older person can tell a lovely story and transmit a lot of experience. These older ladies with all their experience fit perfectly into ‘roots’ —this year’s theme”.

 “A lot of visitors told me they were so touched by the photos, and by the idea of making large portraits, so you can really immerse yourself in these pictures and feel something,” Wagner-Strauss said. 

 

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