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Art Ovation Hotel is honored to present an exhibition of photographs by Ulrich Mannchen and Jan C. Schlegel, founding members of White Rabbit Collective from Nurnberg, Germany. Mannchen and Schlegel discovered their passion for photography at an early age. As they grew older, they were able to further develop their skills and build strong careers doing what they love. Their passion for the medium brought them together, not only to produce their own impressive portfolios, but also to share their knowledge and experience with others.

The show features selections from three different series: Mannchen’s “Portals – From Some Place Else” and “Lost Boys,” and Schlegel’s “Essence.” Mannchen’s portraits of Cosplayers – role-playing costumed individuals inspired by anime, cartoons, comic-books, films and video games -, Steam Punk science fiction characters featuring steam-powered machinery rather than twenty-first century technology, and precocious “Lolitas” inspired by Valdimir Nabokov’s young protagonist, transport the viewers to dream-like worlds, bring back childhood memories, and stimulate the figment of our imagination while documenting a fascinating urban sub-culture.

Schlegel’s series “Essence” presents a collection of portraits depicting tribal peoples photographed during his innumerable trips to Africa and Asia. The selection constitutes a sample of hundreds of images of individuals representing unique cultures and traditions including the Turkana and Rendille peoples of Kenya; the Mursi, Suri, Ebore, Hamar, and Kara peoples of Ethiopia and the Omo River Valley; and the Beduine of Egypt. The images document the beauty and the visual richness of these people but denounce the threats and dangers they face due to complex phenomena such as globalization and colonialism. As anthropologist Ruben G. Mendoza indicates, “Schlegel’s objective remains to capture the essential spirit and primordial essence of the tribal peoples and cultures whose very lifeways are increasingly threatened by the insidious encroachment of the modern world.”

Mannchen and Schlegel open our eyes to the fascinating worlds of visually rich and unique rural and urban sub-cultures. Some of the individuals portrayed live in remote locations while others may be in our communities but typically live in a sort of underground. Through their photographs we get to discover them. Furthermore, through the eyes and expressions of their characters, we connect with their spirits and travel in our minds to extraordinary places.

Francine Birbragher PhD