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Marc Erwin Babej is an American-German photographic artist based in New York City. At the core of his works are still images – always in black‐and‐white, putting his congenital color-blindness to good use. Born in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1970, he received an A.B. in History and Judaic Studies from Brown University and an M.Sc. from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He speaks fluent German, and French, as well as Czech and conversational Italian.
Marc began his career as one of the youngest reporters in the history of Forbes Magazine, while also writing for the arts sections of Corriere della Sera, Die Zeit, and The Guardian. His background in social sciences, particularly classical and modern history, pervades the work. The films of Orson Welles and Sergei Eisenstein, as well as the photography of his mentor, Roger Ballen, are important artistic influences.
Though political in nature, the work challenges the assumptions about political art.
Eschewing protest and shock effects, the work aims at thoughtful interaction with a theme, and a meeting at eye level with the audience. Instead of propagating a point of view, the work delves into the complexities of a theme—to trigger a degree of cognitive dissonance and, in so doing, to heighten awareness of contradictory beliefs and concomitant inner conflict.
In essence, the object of the work is not what the audience should think, but that they think.
From conception through post-production, the work is approached as “film in still images” – integrating images with text elements and electronic soundtracks. Such work requires multi-disciplinary collaboration between cast, crew and topical experts. Members of his “still-image film” ensemble, Mercury Theatre, feature in a variety of roles across the works. The three principals of Mercury Theatre, Agnieszka Artych, Laura Lindermann and Myriem (Mariem Boukadida) are collaborators in front of the camera, and in all aspects of a production. They are also shareholders in the enterprise.
Each work is conceived and realized in close coordination with a board of renowned historians in the particular theme. As appropriate, works are presented under the auspices of thematically relevant institutions, such as the Institute for the History of the German Jews for Mischlinge; the U.S. Department of State, through its embassy in Tunis, for Africanae; and the South African Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice for the upcoming Unser Afrika.