Dheisheh Refugee Camp, Westbank, Palestine 2014 -2022
published by the international renowned EDITION LAMMERHUBER.
"Verena Andrea Prenner's photo project is the sensual, intellectual and pragmatic attempt to artistically understand the unsteadiness of life in a refugee camp and to make us all accomplices in her socio-political investigation."
Selection of reviews :
Maria Leitner I Buchkultur Magazin
HUMOR NEEDS THE HUMAN
Men wear animal costumes and women’s clothing in front of Verena Prenner’s lense.
Her photography is exhibited internationally and in 2021 she won a prize for her "artistic and cultural examination of human dignity." Artist and sociologist Verena Prenner has been described as unpretentious, empathetic, and sharp-witted, which aptly applies to the essence of her work. Even in her more substantial works such as “Europe now” (a Rubenesque nude wearing a rooster’s mask and sitting atop a dung heap) her humour never diminishes the actors—usually just laypeople or passers-by—but uncovers the surreal in daily life, while maintaining wit and dignity. What an improvisational talent! While Shirin Neshat makes extensive use of writing as an aesthetic means, Verena Prenner is satisfied with a single word smeared on the wall: a name as a statement. She does not shy away from physical exertion or political opposition when realizing her projects. The most recent example of which was when she lived in a refugee camp in the Palestinian West Bank. The resulting pictures have now been published under the tongue-in-cheek title "Camping." The staging seems to come from the performers themselves: women who have written on white face masks, thusly turning their wishes and worries outwards; the melon merchant, whose fruits share the colors of the Palestinian flag, piled up like a pyramid, symbolically offer resistance—just to name two examples. Certainly, this is much more than a coffee table book!
Gregor Auenhammer I Der Standard
VERENA ANDREA PRENNERS PRODUCTIONS ARE MONUMENTS OF AB IRONIC-INTELLECTUAL-PRAGMATIC NATURE
What the hell am I doing here?” the young photographer asked herself when yet again tear gas in combination with the ubiquitous noise of machine gun fire and flying stones penetrated through the leaky windows and doors into the interior of her shack-like accommodation. Many had asked her if she was crazy to spend weeks and months in the Dheisheh refugee camp in the West Bank, Palestine. After finishing her studies in sociology, Verena Andrea Prenner went to the Middle East for the first time. Her intention was to examine the impact of the construction of the Israeli security wall on the living and working conditions of taxi drivers. Simultaneously, the 1982, Neunkirchen-born sociologist came to work as a photographer. At first only at weddings, becoming artistically more encompassing over time.
As a young, white woman with flowing blonde hair—paradoxically between haram and halal—she was suspected of being both an Israeli and Palestinian spy, and called an "inferior" single woman (a euphemism for sex worker, perhaps?). Despite these prejudices and hostilities, she earned the respect and trust of community members. Prenner repeatedly visited the camp between 2014 and 2022 and lived in the middle of it, documenting and visualizing experiences, emotions, and dreams. Irritatingly inspiring. Placably unifying.
Ursula Kastner I Salzburger Nachrichten
IS THERE A FEMALE VIEW IN PHOTOGRAPHY ?
( I don´t think so )
Viktoria Kery - Erdélyi I Die Niederösterreicherin
MARGE GOES COVERSTAR
Penetrating excellent absurdities: Verena Andrea Prenner's staged pictures about escape and expulsion find a home in the new illustrated book "Camping". The sociologist and photographer received the state's culture prize for her work.
Teresa Schauer-Wünsch I Die Presse
WHERE PACMAN EATS NAMES
Absurd images of an absurd reality
Foto: Werner Filak / Luckypictures
For the first time, LaGacilly Baden Photo draws a spotlight on Austrian photography and shows the works of three female Austrian photographers: Inge Morath, Christine de Grancy and Verena Andrea Prenner.
Kati Bruder I Program director Rotlicht - Festival for analog photography :
This year, the festival branding and the cover image of this catalog is by Verena Andrea Prenner from her series „Camping“. The portrait is of the Dheisheh refugee camp in the West Bank, located on the border to Israel, where the artist lived for months. To avoid revealing the „other“, namely the camp´s inhabitants, Verena Andrea Prenner asks the people living there to slip into costumes she has made herself - and thus illustrate the atmosphere in the camp, described by the men there as: „Like animals in a zoo“. With her series, Verena Andrea Prenner manages to achieve what many failed to do in the past and what constitutes the essence of contemporary artistic photography: she tells a story in colourful pictures: of leaving her comfort zone, of adventures experienced, of despair and hope, of love and hate, life and destruction, and she does it without exposing the photographed people to our scopophilic gaze or photographically „shooting down“ the person.