Ute Mahler

Ute Mahler (b.1949, Germany) is a German photographer, lecturer, editor, and publisher.

Born in 1949 in Berka (Thuringia) in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), Ute Mahler graduated in Photography at the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst in Leipzig in 1974 and has since been working as a freelance photographer. From 1981 she was a member of the Association of Visual Artists (VBK) and in 1990, together with six East German photographers, she founded the today highly acclaimed OSTKREUZ agency of photographers. Before the German reunification her works were published, e.g. in the famous GDR fashion magazine Sibylle.  After 1989/90 she worked for national and international magazines. In addition to the commissioned work and her later teachings she has always pursued her own artistic projects.

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Since 2005 Ute Mahler has been lecturer at Ostkreuzschule für Fotografie in Berlin and from 2000 to 2015 she held a professorship for photography at the Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften in Hamburg. She has edited and curated various exhibitions and publishing projects. However, it wasn’t until 2014 that she published her first monograph Zusammenleben (Living Together) – a body of work she had created between 1972 and 1988 scrutinizing the constitution of relationships of her family, friends and strangers, and which has been fundamental not only to her own oeuvre but also for numerous colleagues and students.

Since 2009, Ute Mahler and her husband Werner Mahler, after working as individual photographers and assisting one another for more than three decades, have collaborated for long term artistic projects such as Monalisen der Vorstädte (Monalisas of the Suburbs) 2009-2010, Die seltsamen Tage (The Strange Days) 2010-2013, or Kleinstadt (Small Town) 2015-2018, the latest being An den Strömen (On the Rivers), 2019–2020.

The couple was granted the Lotto Brandenburg Kunstpreis Fotografie (Phtotgraphy Art Prize) in 2012 and the Deutsche Fotobuchpreis (German Photobook Award) for their joint book Werkschau in 2015. In 2019 the couple received the David-Octavius-Hill-Medal of the Deutsche Fotografische Akademie (DFA), and in 2013 the Konrad-Wolf Award of the Akademie der Künste, Berlin (Academey of Fine Arts), together with 16 colleagues of OSTKREUZ.

In 2014, the House of Photography dedicated a major retrospective to the Mahlers at the Deichtorhallen in Hamburg. The exhibition was showcased in an extended version in Den Haag/Netherlands in 2019 as well as in Rostock in 2020.

Ute Mahler’s works have been presented in numerous exhibitions and festivals worldwide, amongst them at the Rencontres de la Photograpie in Arles/France, the Biennale for Photography in Mannheim and images Singuilière in Sète/France.

Ute Mahler lives in Lehnitz near Berlin.

Ute Mahler

Zusammenleben, Potsdam 1980 © Ute Mahler

“The imagery that Ute Mahler develops in her portraits is one of its own, one that only very few photographers are able to find, balancing between a sheer document and a composed, or staged portrait. And it is this tenderness, this thoroughness and the accuracy of Ute Mahler’s gaze that is necessary to release the shutter at the right moment.” (Bersarin)

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Heroines 2020

Ursula Schulz-Dornburg

Valerie Belin