© 2019 Anna Van Lenten

Mädchenland, Kingdom of Girls / Karolin Klüppel

July 2015

Exhibit opening, screening, & talk
Tuesday July 21, 2015, 7:30 PM
Moderated by Anna Van Lenten, Half King Photo Series curator

Mädchenland, or Kingdom of Girls, is a project that photographer Karolin Klüppel began in 2013 about Khasi girls in India. The Khasi are a matrilineal people who number 1.2 million. Karolin focused on Khasi girls in Mawlynnong, a small village in the northeast with 95 homes. With the Khasi, finances are managed by wives and mothers, only daughters can inherit, and marriage customs conform to wives. When she started this story, Karolin made an early decision to create the girls' portraits, rather than documenting them doing chores, eating, or learning at school. The result, nine months in the making, is a formal and spirited representation of the future leaders of this clan.

 

One of the many graceful strengths in these images is how Karolin sets up her subjects. By turns, the girls reveal their serious and playful sides. Some pictures are whimsical, others more environmental. All manifest the girls’ autonomy and confer a solemn respect that undergirds the more fanciful poses and situations. Karolin not only recognizes and celebrates Khasi girls’ assuredness, she shows us how lightly they wear it. By force of her imagination, she makes us see the person in the girl. Mädchenland broadens our assumptions about who is worthy as esteemed portraiture subject, and in what manner. For the Khasi, a culture that holds high expectations for its girls to take charge, Karolin’s approach fits.

 

~ Anna Van Lenten

 

KAROLIN KLUPPEL’s work focuses on gender relations and matrilineal or matriarchal societies. She is based in Berlin, and studied at the School of Art and Design in Kassel and at the Faculdade de Belas Artes in Lisbon, and holds an MFA in photography. Recent exhibits include the Voices Off festival in Arles (2012) and Festival Circulation(s) in Paris (2015). Mädchenland’s awards include the Canon Profifoto Award (2014) and the Bourse du Talent #62 Portrait Award. Klüppel’s work has been published in The New York Times, The Independent, The Huffington Post, and The Washington Post, among others.