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25. Red Dawns | 40 years of LGBT movement in Slovenia | Rick Burger: “Portraits of Strength”

06 June 2024 > 21 June 2024 You are kindly invited to the opening of the exhibition "Portraits of Strength" by Rick Burger, on Thursday, 6 June at 7 p.m. The exhibition is a part of 24. International Feminist and Queer Festival Red Dawns and a part of the cultural programme of the 40th anniversary of the LGBT+ community movement in Slovenia. Kindly welcomed also to the guided tour and talk with the artist on Friday, 21 June at 5 pm.

     Events of the 25. International Feminist and Queer Festival Red Dawns are also happening thought the year      

The event is a part of    the cultural programme  marking the  40th anniversary of  LGBT+ community movement    in Slovenia.

Thursday, 6 June 2024, at 7pm
Alkatraz Gallery, Masarykova 24, 1000 Ljubljana
Free entrance  – Every day from Monday until Friday & on Saturday, 15 June between noon and 6 pm.


It started with an invitation: On 25 February 2023 I was a guest at the accompanying event of the exhibition Theses on Hope by the Polish multimedia artist Karol Radziszewski, who is also engaged in queer history in Eastern and Southern Europe. As part of this exhibition, the Two Bridges gallery in Berlin also screened the Slovene documentary entitled LGBT SLO 1984 (2022) directed by Boris Petković. At the discussion after the screening, I met many queer people both from Slovenia and from Berlin and elsewhere. This is just Berlin.

I was approached by the gay photographer Rick Burger, a Netherlander by birth, who has been living and working in Berlin since 2007. Although he photographs various motifs and is, among other things, doing fashion photography, he is increasingly devoting himself to political work and expression, in short, engaged photography. In 2019, when he came across a post on Facebook about the so-called free zones in Poland, where any queer activity, including people who would perform it, is prohibited, he was taken aback, especially because Poland is geographically so close to Berlin. He contacted the organisation ‘Campaign against Homophobia’ in Warsaw, where he also travelled and made portraits of its members and other activists. Since then, as an engaged photographer, he has regularly been establishing contacts with activists all over the world, as homophobia, of course, knows no borders.

He asked me as well if, as a Slovene LGBT activist and author, I would pose for this collection. There wasn't much time, so he suggested that we meet in his studio on the day of my departure, after which he would take me to the airport. I was convinced by his enthusiasm for the project, as well as by his friendly and respectful approach.

So, we met that day in front of the Two Bridges gallery and drove to his studio in the former East Berlin, in a slightly run-down multi-story building that is being rented out to artists and various associations. The building reminded me of worn-out official buildings in Ljubljana, where the premises were rented out after the independence, and also of Metelkova mesto, given the impression of artistic chaos. I felt increasingly at home, also because of Rick, whom I got to know in the studio as a devoted, sensitive and bright photographer and person, who is very aware of the fact that in LGBTQA+ activism he works with people, which is why he prioritises topics of love, dignity, visibility, attention, humanity, honesty and an open and democratic approach.

In the studio, he first showed me a selection of his photos, mainly portraits of activists, in which he also sees his engagement, a mission, so to speak, as this project has great socio-political significance. The people in the portraits are not only from Europe, but also from Russia, African countries etc. In any case, Rick photographs queer people important for activism and spreading humanistic ideas, whereby many of them risk their everyday peace and safety and, unfortunately, also lives in their own countries.

The photo shoot took a good three hours. I didn't get tired not even for a moment, in fact I didn't even feel as if I had been posing for a photographer, but rather that I had been communicating with him. For the first time I experienced that a photographer would be impressed by the fact that the portrayed person was dressed in black. And for the first time I had the feeling that posing/photographing is not only that, but can also be a good conversation. When he asked me whether I had experienced something extraordinary lately, I talked about that as well. In the meantime, the photos of me wearing Rick's black t-shirt were being taken, me looking – I can't put it differently – in the mood for life.

For Rick Burger, photography is important because he indeed sees it as his way of communicating with people as well as with himself. A photo is an opportunity to show himself and invite the portrayed people to show and introduce themselves in a safe, respectful way. 'I get back as much from them as I give them through photography.'

My acquaintance with Rick Burger, a photographer, activist and humanist, was unforgettable and important for further collaboration. In the same year, we met again in Berlin, and this year in Ljubljana as well, on the occasion of the publication of this wonderful photographic monograph and exhibition in the Alkatraz Gallery.

Sometimes you meet a friend on a trip. Thank you, Rick.

Suzana Tratnik

Rick Burger (1966, Alkmaar, Holland) graduated from The Royal Academy of Art (KABK) in The Hague, the Netherlands. At first, he was working mostly in fashion photography. In 2007, he moved to Berlin, where his work gained a more social and political context. In 2019, Burger came across a Facebook post about the LGBT free zones in Poland. Shortly after that, he contacted the organization ‘Campaign against Homophobia’ in Warsaw and portrayed its members and other activists. Since then, he has made portraits of numerous LGBTQ activists from all over the world. Burger works a lot with the large format 4x5 camera on black and white film, because he cherishes the concentrated approach that such a camera demands. Rick Burger's work stresses the importance of social and political themes, in his case, especially LGBTIQA+ activism around the world and fighting for Love, Dignity, Visibility, Attention, Humanity, Fairness, Democratic approach.


Production: KUD Mreža, ŠKUC Association

Design of graphic images for Red Dawns festival: Ariane Podlesny
Design of the logotype for 40th anniversary of LGBT+ movement: Urša Čuk

Contacts for the media: Saša Nemec,
Curated by: Suzana Tratnik
Translation to English: Ana Makuc
Proof-reading of Slovene: Sonja Benčina

Photographs of the exhibition: Nada Žgank.

Financial support: Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia, City Council Ljubljana

 Facebook event 

Rick Burger: Portraits of Strength