HOPE by Alexander von Wiedenbeck

Exhibition at the Leica Gallery Konstanz from 19. July till 12. October 2024

It is a special honor for me that my photography reportage “HOPE by Alexander von Wiedenbeck” about the cemetery and garbage dump children in the Philippines is being given a new and further exhibition in the wonderful Leica Gallery in Konstanz. Of all my trips around the globe, this was by far the most shocking and at the same time the most beautiful trip in my life. The hope, faith and love of these children has opened my heart much more than I ever thought it could be.

19. July 2024 at 7pm – Vernissage
20. July 2024 at 12am  – Personal guided tour
28. August 2024 at 5pm – Personal guided tour

Hope dies last – so they say. But is that really the case? Can there be hope, when children live in cemeteries and have to spend the night in graves? Can there be hope, when young girls, barely eight years old, are molested by their uncle or grandfather? Can there be hope, when children search from dawn to dusk in rubbish dumps for usable materials, so that if they are lucky they will get a meal at the end of the day? Can there be hope, when a girl forced into prostitution already has two abortions behind her? The answer – a clear YES – is faith, hope and love, which impel the children. Hope for a better life and the pursuit of happiness drive them and give them their strength. In the midst of all the chaos, poverty and dark shadows, it is this hope and this unswerving faith, which one can see in the children’s eyes and feel in their hearts. They keep on going, they struggle, they never give up, and we shouldn’t either.

It was the thought of giving something back. With all the countless advertising productions, fashion shoots, portraits around the world I have experienced and seen a great deal, usually just good things. I have met inspiring people, travelled to magical places and experienced intense moments. The world has given me a great deal, it’s about time I returned the favor. But how, where and above all with whom? So I wrote to ten German aid organizations and offered my support and more importantly presented my vision of a pioneering social responsibility project within the photography industry. Following numerous talks, considerations and after comparing the brutal facts I then chose the “Aktionsgruppe Kinder in Not e.V.”  from Windhagen with its projects on the Philippines. Children living in cemeteries, rubbish dumps, forced child prostitution were concepts that had stopped me in my tracks and moved me to start here.

So I’d taken the first step, the project was happening, what next? How should I prepare myself for the trip, physically with vaccinations etc. or the far more important question, mentally? After all, you can imagine that you’re about to be confronted with quite a bit when you hear about children living in cemeteries and rubbish dumps. I did of course do some research beforehand, read reports, watched documentaries about them but looking back now there was nothing that could have actually prepared me for this trip. When you’re standing in the middle of a quagmire of rubbish, rats, starving and sick dogs for the first time and then a little girl is standing in front of you crying and surrounded by flies in a just 2 x 2 meter wooden hut… what on earth are you going to prepare and how can you even presume at all that you could prepare for something like this. And yet I have my mission and therefore have to function as the person I am… the photographer, the supposed voyeur who captures and documents the moment without interacting, without changing anything. And what should you change, should you say to a crying child “Smile, say cheese”?… bullshit! The moment was there in its full and merciless cruelty, unadorned… so I hold up my camera and press the shutter release…


Leica Galerie Konstanz – Gerichtsgasse 14 – 78462 Konstanz – www.leica-galerie-konstanz.de

Im Gespräch – Monacofieber Podcast
MEISTERclass von Wiedenbeck – Storytelling at the Olympische Dorf