Photographer Matthew Rolston recently made his European fine-art debut with the solo show “Talking Heads: The Vent Haven Portraits” at Berlin’s Camera Work Contemporary Gallery, and we’re excited to share this exclusive look at the event.
The exhibition opened on Friday, April 22, with a private preview, immediately followed by a general opening, and was attended by a large crowd of art lovers, ardent collectors, and prominent members of Berlin’s social elite. Rolston signed books for a number of enthusiastic patrons.
About halfway through the evening, CWC and Camera Work Galerie director Ute Hartjen introduced Rolston to the crowd, which included Kimberly Emerson (wife of John B. Emerson, U.S. Ambassador to Germany), prominent art collectors Manuela Alexejew-Brandl and Ingrid and Thomas Jochheim, Maria and Vladimir Kotenev (former Russian Ambassador to Germany), and Angelica Blechschmidt, who is a former editor-in-chief of German Vogue.
“Many people have asked me about my interest in ventriloquism,” Rolston told the crowd. “I’m not particularly interested in ventriloquism. Although now that I’ve learned more about it, I must say I’ve become intrigued. This work isn’t really about ventriloquism. Yes, obviously it is portraits of ventriloquist dummies, but what this work is really about is humanity.
“As humans,” he continued, “we project humanity into simulacra—that is, images or representations of humans. Images themselves are lifeless, yet we breathe life into them. The life we find is our own. I invite you to find your own humanity within the faces portrayed in these images.”
Following the exhibition, Hartjen hosted a dinner for 40 of the gallery’s most prominent collectors at one of the city’s favorite fashionable restaurants, Grill Royal, a beloved standby in the Berlin art world, located on the banks of the Spree River adjacent to the landmark Museum Island.
In the days after the opening, the exhibition continued to gather momentum, as its second week coincided with Gallery Weekend Berlin, bringing more than 3,500 visitors to “Talking Heads” in a two-day span. Gallery Weekend has become one of the city’s most anticipated art events, attracting collectors, curators, and art lovers from all over the world. CWC’s location in the gallery quarter of Berlin-Mitte, famous in the international art world, made it ideally suited to host the show.
“Talking Heads” was also warmly received by the European press. On the eve of the opening, two prominent publications highlighted the exhibition. One, Monopol, Germany’s leading monthly magazine dedicated to “art and life”—its stated mission is to cover “contemporary art, including design, architecture, fashion, literature, and film”—devoted the opening of its special article and guide to Gallery Weekend Berlin to Rolston’s exhibition. And Ostsee Zeitung, one of Germany’s leading daily newspapers, featured “Talking Heads” on the cover of its arts and culture section, OZ Magazin.
“Talking Heads” will remain on view during the 9th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, which opens on June 4 and will bring a great many prominent collectors of contemporary art to the city and to the gallery.
“Berlin is a town town very much devoted to art and photography—a real center for contemporary culture of all kinds,” noted Rolston. “I’m thrilled for my work to be seen in such an environment.”
To learn more, please visit Camera Work’s website.