Birthe Piontek: Abendlied

Blue Sky is pleased to announce Abendlied, an exhibition of photographs by Birthe Piontek.
Saturday Opening, March 5th, 12 PM – 5 PM
Artist talk: Wednesday, March 9, 5:30 PM PT on Zoom

Abendlied (Engl. Evening Song) is a personal exploration into the topics of family, memory, and loss. Piontek moved from Germany, where she was born and raised, to Canada in 2005. Over the course of the past six years, she has taken pictures of her family whenever visiting Germany. The result captures the last years of her parents in their house —her childhood home– where they had lived for almost 40 years before having to move due to her mother’s battle with dementia.

Abendlied examines how individual relationships in a family are shaped by the processes of growing up, aging, and eventually letting go. It reveals how this circle of life not only contributes to an ebb and flow of connection but also to a feeling of separation within the family bond.

The project looks at the elements that create a family: not just the genes but also the stories and secrets, as well as the objects that we surround ourselves with. The things that have always been there, are handed down, and make up the tangible and visible material that turns houses into homes. In this series, they become poetic stand-ins for underlying emotions and the “unspeakable” that is unique to each family.

Birthe Piontek (German, b. 1976) is a visual artist living on the unceded territories of the Coast Salish Peoples in Vancouver BC, Canada. Born and raised in Germany, Piontek moved to Canada in 2005 after receiving her MFA from the Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen, Germany.

Her work has been exhibited internationally, in both solo and group shows, and is featured in many private and public collections such as the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago and the Museum of Applied Arts in Gera, Germany.

Piontek’s project The Idea of North won the Critical Mass Book Award 2009 and was published as a monograph in 2011. Her project Abendlied received the Edward Burtynsky Grant in 2018 and was nominated by Time Magazine as one of the best photo books in 2019. The most recent work, Janus, was published by Gnomic Book in 2021.

Piontek is an Assistant Professor of Photography in the Audain Faculty of Art at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver and a member of the Cake Collective.