Kent Klich was born in Sweden in 1952, and currently lives in Denmark. He studied psychology at the University of Gothenburg and photography at the International Center of Photography in New York. He joined the photo agency Magnum Photos in 1998 until 2002. Kent Klich has received international recognition with his project about Beth, a Danish sex worker whose life he has chronicled over the past thirty years, resulting in three books and several exhibitions.
Other acclaimed projects include El Niño(1999), about homeless children in Mexico City, and Children of Ceausescu(2001), about HIV-positive children in Romania’s orphanages. A retrospective exhibition of his oeuvre will be displayed at the National Museum of Photography in Copenhagen in 2018.
Kent Klich has photographed life in the Gaza Strip since the early 2000s, offering alternative images to the short-lived sensationalism of mass media. With a profound interest in personal stories and a strong emphasis on collaborative efforts, his work focuses on the consequences of war in the everyday. This exhibition includes works from six series (2001–2017), two of which – GZA (2016–17) and Resistance (2016) – are being shown for the first time.
The Gaza Strip is a conflict-ridden Palestinian territory of approximately 360 square kilometres, with a population of two million. The area has been occupied by Israel since 1967, and it is still subject to Israeli blockades – there is no free movement to and from Gaza by land, air or sea. The current closure marks a decade as of June 2017, but there is scarce media coverage on the status quo surrounding the effects of the blockade on daily life.
Kent Klich seeks to expose the current situation in Gaza, and is committed to drawing attention to injustices and human rights violations in the area. Aware of the challenges involved in photographic representations of human suffering and of his own role as an outsider, he applies various methods of storytelling in order to address the complicated conflict. Information from activists in Gaza and from experts on human rights, forensics and Palestinian history intersect with testimonies from civilians whose lives are endangered.
One such example is the video installation Killing Time, composed of personal mobile phone films taken by people who did not survive the military offensive called Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09. New work are the physical fragments of mosaics that once adorned the now demolished Gaza International Airport, along with photographs and films of the site, bearing witness to the severe limitations in movement for the people living in Gaza.
The new book Kent Klich: Gaza Works, in conjunction with the exhibition at Hasselblad Center June - September 2017 (published by Koenig Books and designed by BankerWessel, 2017), with essays by Judith Butler, Mette Sandbye, Raji Sourani, Eyal Weizman and Louise Wolthers, as well as a conversation between Kent Klich and Hasselblad Award laureate Susan Meiselas, are part of a broader strand of research on photography and human rights conducted and supported by the Hasselblad Foundation. It seeks to explore the role of photography in documenting human rights violations due to war, migration, segregation, and surveillance.
“Kent Klich’s work poses a range of vital questions regarding both the ethics and aesthetics of conflict, its aftermath, and the hope for solutions,” says Louise Wolthers, co-curator of the exhibition and Head of Research at the Hasselblad Foundation.
The exhibition will become part of the Hasselblad Foundation’s touring exhibitions as of autumn 2017.