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Solo show by photographer Holger Jacobs opens at galerie hiltawsky in Berlin
Holger Jacobs, Robert Wilson, 2012. İHolger Jacobs. Photo: Courtesy galerie hiltawsky.

BERLIN.- The Berlin-based galerie hiltawsky opened a solo show by photographer Holger Jacobs.

For the last seven years Holger Jacobs has taken portraits of well-known personalities, asking each of his subjects to hand-write a statement they wish to share with others – the content was theirs to choose. This exhibition presents some 30 portraits and accompanying texts, including those of German humorist Loriot who died in 2011, of former West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, and of internationally acclaimed architect Daniel Libeskind.

The impetus behind Jacobs’ series, titled “WORDS,” was the United Nations Literacy Decade from 2003 to 2012 that has aimed to eradicate the analphabetism prevailing among an estimated 800 million people worldwide. Reading and writing are fundamental for participation in our modern information society.

While illiteracy is often associated with developing countries, the PISA study showed that also in highly developed countries lack of knowledge in these areas hinder equal opportunity in one’s career and in society as a whole. Overcoming the stigma of analphabetism and implementing further educational measures has become even more important in this era of globalization and growing migration.

With the addition of written texts by notable figures, the “WORDS” series speaks to those most affected by illiteracy. Jacobs takes an artistic approach to destigmatize analphabetism, making it more accessible to a wider public. Jacobs’ series also demonstrates that the issue bears artistic merit, thus removing illiteracy from the sidelines of social exclusion.

For this exhibition, new prints of the images and texts were made on French aquarelle paper. A portion of the proceeds from the artwork sales will be donated to Bildungswerk Kreuzberg, which specializes in the education of young people with a migration background. Its founder, Nihat Sorgeç, received the German government’s Federal Cross of Merit in 2008.

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