Julia Krahn began working on the portrait series SchönerHeit in 2013 as a commission from the Anna von Borries Foundation, and now it will be shown for the first time in a photography exhibition. The series focuses on twelve residents of an institution run by DIAKOVERE Annastift Leben und Lernen—people with almost exclusively physical disabilities.

The project SchönerHeit portrays the beauty of people with disabilities in a new light through an artistic lens and questions conventional ideals of beauty. In her work, Julia Krahn often deals with social values, societal change, and the subject of religion. For the first time, neither she herself nor people from her immediate family are featured in her work. In close cooperation with the residents, she created moving scenes that express their unique and loveable qualities in every picture.

The Song of Songs from the Bible, with its rich imagery and associations on the theme of love and beauty, serves as an inspiration and connecting thread for the series. Bishop Ralf Meister: “The artist portrayed the participants as in the love song of the Old Testament: How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes are doves. How handsome you are, my beloved! Oh, how charming! And our bed is verdant. (Song of Songs 1:15–16)”

“The people portrayed in the photographs were able to present themselves playfully and freely. The photographs show us the individuals without putting them on display. For the participants it was important to be seen with their disability, but not because of it,” states Dr. Ulrich Spielmann, Managing Director of Diakovere Annastift Leben und Lernen gGmbH and Chairman of the Anna von Borries Stiftung. The foundation, whose mission is to support people with disabilities, initiated and funded the entire project with support from the Hanns-Lilje-Stiftung.

The exhibition with a selection of photographs will be opened by Bishop Ralf Meister on 19 May 2016 at 6 p.m. at St. Johannis Church in Göttingen; the artist and the participants will be present. The works will be on view until 22 June 2016 from Wednesday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Later the series will travel to Bremerhaven, Hildesheim, Verden, and Hanover, and will also be part of the group exhibition Kunst trotzt Handicap in the Marktkirche in Hanover (21 September – 19 October 2016), as well as Kassel, Bremen, and in Apolda.

A catalogue will be published with numerous color illustrations, a foreword by Bishop Ralf Meister, and essays by Beatrice Buscaroli, Angela Madesani, and Gian Paolo Serino, as well as an extensive look behind the scenes. The publication will include texts in German, English, Italian, and Plain Language (German).

Julia Krahn was born in in Jülich and grew up in Aachen. In 2001 she left her studies in medicine in Freiburg and moved to Milan to fully dedicate herself to art. Today she works with various galleries in multiple countries. Her works are shown in museums and galleries around the world. She has received several prizes. Most recently she was featured at the Landesmuseum Hannover and the Lentos Kunstmuseum Linz.

The Anna von Borries Stiftung is a dependent foundation that supports assistance for people with disabilities, the elderly, public health care, and education. It mainly supports the charitable organizations DIAKOVERE Annastift Leben und Lernen gGmbH and DIAKOVERE Krankenhaus Annastift gGmbH, but also engages in its own activities. It is a foundation in trusteeship of Annastift e.V..




The body, which has lost its ability to communicate. The picture that does not reflect what wants to be clearly visible. The described feeling to be trapped in your own body. The experience to meet a patient that understands my thoughts, but I do not understand him and I do not see that he actually understands me: this made me feel powerless and suddenly I desired to take his portrait and suddelny a vision of his naked body just covered by canvas, in an early insensitive way and easy to misunderstand, appeared before my inner eyes. I do not want to display or to expose anyone. But what is a photograph in the end. How to represent how lovingly a disable body can be, how much BEAUTY can be represented in a photograph. How do I let this body communicate, witch has no possibility to speak in our everyday language. To deprive the body of its actual function and to find a new form and way of being from an abstract point of view. This seems to me the solution. Lifting the body to another level of understanding. The extension to the ‘Song of Songs’ gives the whole research an even deeper meaning and I can see the new bodies appearing, more beautiful then ever.

Julia Krahn

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