The past week was a really big week for both of our art.
Uli exhibited his full series "Portals- from some place else" at the Manga Comic fair at the Leipzig buchmesse. And I played to cool shows here in Nürnberg and won the songwriter's competition. Let us share more!
Uli's exhibition will go down as one of my "life highlights". He's been working on this series for years, so to see it finally exhibited in the right place, with the right people who really appreciated and loved it, was exhilarating.
How this love affair with Cosplay began.....
Uli fell in love with cosplay by accident when we were on a trip to China about 6 years ago. We were working in the North, with the Mongolian tribes and on our way back we stayed in Bejing a few days. We heard about how the youth in Bejing dress up as their favorite superhero characters and meet up in their costumes. Our team was really excited about this and wanted to find out more. So we all jumped in a taxi and went to a festival they were all meeting at.
I remember watching Uli's eyes light up when he saw them. It was like his childhood was coming to life. Uli lived and breathed superheroes as a kid... way before they became socially accepted and Hollywoodized! He grew up in a small village in Franconia, Germany where he dreamed of being like one of his favorite superheroes that would go off, to far away lands and places and save the world.
After that day in Bejing Uli started developing his photo concept around cosplay. He went to as many conventions, meetups, and gatherings as he could find. Getting to know their world, their passions for doing Cosplay. Inside this world, he found so many young people who dreamed and viewed the world like him: a place they wanted to make better by the giftings they possessed inside of them. Though he found that many felt they only had this possession through the facade of the costume they created and not the real, God-given talents they all uniquely had inside them.
Uli started created his portraits in a way that would not only show the character these cosplayers were portraying, but the real superheroes underneath the costumes. To champion and empower the amazing people he met with dignity and liberation in order to show them that he believed they themselves were just, if not more powerful than any superhero they ever read about... and they too had the ability to change the world.
Uli was invited by the Manga Comic fair at the Leipzig buchmesse to exhibit his series. This is one of the biggest Cosplay Gatherings in Europe. Uli exhibited his full series and the response was killer and already he's been offered to bring his exhibition to other venues!
One of the cosplayers who fell in love with Uli's photos opened up about how she "only feels strong and confident when she has her costume on. I feel like I can run around and be strong and powerful, but without it, I'm really shy and I don't talk a lot." This opened up a conversation where we were able to talk with her about her own identity and empowerment about how perfectly God made her. And it wrecked her. (like, in a gooooood way.) And it reminded us both why we do what we do. Using art to empower others.
When Uli first developed his photos in black and white he felt like something was missing. The amazing colors of the costumes weren't there. The brilliance was gone. He refused to go digital or shoot in color film because he wouldn't be able to develop them himself in a dark room. So for months, he researched what he could do until he found out that he could use an old masters technique: hand oil painting. Uli brought back to life this technique which brought back to life the color and vibrancy of his characters. He's been mastering this technique for years and I have to say, I haven't seen any other photographer out there doing it this well (feel free to challenge me on that!)
The pictures are silver gelatin prints, taken with a wooden 4x5 large format camera on traditional black and white film and developed with Kodak D76. The photographs from the Portal series are black and white prints, hand colored with high-quality photo oils. None of the pictures are digitally edited. The entire process for each photo takes about 20 hours.
For more photos and sales visit: www.ulrichmannchen.com
I performed in two shows this week here in Nürnberg. Thursday night I performed at AEG in a song slam competition. To be honest, I had no idea it was a competition until the day of haha. I just thought I was playing a concert with some other artists. Turns out this has been an ongoing competition held here in Nürnberg the past months for songwriters from all over (Europe and the States) to compete for their songs to qualify for the grand final held in November.
1001accousticnights did an amazing job hosting this event and I was so honored to perform with some wonderful artists! The hosts are super passionate about gathering artists together and giving them a platform- our kind of people!
This evening there were two rounds and 7 performers. The audience voted for the top 4. Then those 4 acts performed again and the final two get to go to the final. I was shocked when I got to round two!
And I was blown away when I not only was voted into the final two, but I actually won the competition! I think this meant a lot to me that people from Nürnberg, this crazy city we're trying to connect more to, actually voted for me. It was really humbling and exciting. Cheers to all the other artists who did a wonderful job!
Friday night I performed on stage during a live book reading play. It was this really special night as well because the city honored their official "city librarian" who is retiring, with a performance of live readings from his favorite books. HOW COOL IS THAT?! The mayor came and gave a speech right before I sang. It was a really special time and I was so honored to be part of it!