"The Rocket's Red Glare"
"The Rocket's Red Glare" traces the history of instrumental rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, whose story embodies Barbara Diener's ongoing interest in the complicated German heritage surrounding WWII. A NAZI turned NASA scientist von Braun's life represents as much contradicition as his groundbreaking rockets do, which were used as missiles and spacecrafts alike.
In 1932 Werhner von Braun went to work for the German army, which fell under National Socialist rule the following year. Accounts of when he joined the NAZI party vary but by 1937 he was the technical director of the Army Rocket Center in Peenemunde where the V2 rocket (Vengeance Weapon 2) was created and tested. After the war, when von Braun was brought to the U.S. under the controversial Operation Paperclip, a government initiative to secure and extract German scientists, his talents were called upon by the U.S. military. He settled in Huntsville, AL with members of his original rocket team, where they eventually developed the Saturn V and put the first man on the moon.
To create some of the works for "The Rocket's Red Glare" Diener has superimposed archival images found in the Wernher von Braun Archive in Huntsville, AL with her own photographs.The first date indicates the year of the archival photograph, the second year in which she made her photograph and the composite. With these pieces Barbara is literally compressing time and place.
Rather than presenting a complete view of this complex part of German-American history —classified for decades — Barbara is posing questions, looking at the way that history is passed on through generations, and how facts are distorted, embellished or undermined.
Born in 1982 in Germany, Barbara Diener received her Bachelor of Fine Art Degree in Photography from the California College of the Arts, and her Master of Fine Art Degree in Photography from Columbia College in Chicago, IL.
Her work has been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, IL; Hyde Park Art Center, Hyde Park, IL; Alibi Fine Art, Chicago, Il; David Weinberg Gallery, Chicago, IL; New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, NM; Griffin Museum of Photography, Winchester, MA; Invisible Dog Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; Lillstreet Art Center, Chicago, IL; Riverside Art Center, Chicago, IL; Pingyao Photo Festival, China; The Arcade, Chicago, IL; Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, Philadelphia, PA; among others. Diener's photographs are part of several private and institutional collections including the New Mexico Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Photography.
Diener has participated in several artist residency programs including the Fields Project in Oregon, IL, ACRE in Steuben, WI and HATCH Projects through the Chicago Artist Coalition. She is a winner of Flash Forward 2013, the recipient of a Follett Fellowship at Columbia College Chicago and was awarded the Albert P. Weisman Award in 2012 and 2013. In 2015, 2017, and 2020 she received an Individual Artist Grant from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Events.
Diener is the Collection Manager in the Department of Photography and Media at the Art Institute of Chicago and teaches photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
In June, 2018 Daylight Books published her body of work "Phantom Power".
Images in the Portfolio are Archival Inkjet Prints, 13" X 19", 15" X 21" framed, $1,050 each,
and 27.5" X 25", 42.5 X 30" framed, $1,200 each.