Edi Šelhaus. Retrospective

19 May – 29 September 2019

In 2019, the National Museum of Contemporary History is marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of one of Slovenia’s most famous wartime and post-war photoreporters, Edi Šelhaus. We have prepared for this purpose a retrospective exhibition, with a catalogue about his life and work, entitled Edi Šelhaus. Retrospective, since the Museum holds the majority of his photographic opus from more than six decades, from the end of the Second World War to the start of the 21st century.

More about the exhibition:
The exhibition shows a selection of Šelhaus’ pictures from four periods of his work. During the Second World War, as a Partisan photojournalist from 1944 until liberation in May 1945 he recorded valuable, credible documents of the times, primarily life in the hinterland during the war and the arrival of the Partisans in liberated Trieste, Gorizia and Ljubljana, and the proclamation of the first post-war Slovene government in Ajdovščina. He spent the period after the war, between the end of 1945 and 1955, in Trieste where, as a film cameraman between 1945 and 1948, mostly in Zone A for the Slovene Filmski obzornik and, at the same time, for the Yugoslav Filmske novosti, he recorded current events in the turbulent times when the border between Yugoslavia and Italy was decided. He simultaneously worked as a photojournalist for the newspapers Primorski dnevnik and Il Lavoratore and, after 1948, he mostly recorded daily life as a freelance photographer. The exhibition includes among other things, photographic and film records of violence against the civilian population, protests and demonstrations, celebrations, especially on May Day, events at the time of the arrival of the International Allied Commission and the handover to Yugoslav authority, as well as daily and amusing aspects of life.

In the third period, Edi Šelhaus was a photojournalist in Slovenia, employed by Slovenski poročevalec, later by Delo, and by the weekly Tovariš, from the beginning of 1958 until the end of 1972, when he was a “flying” photojournalist, seeking topical events and attractions throughout Slovenia, through the former Yugoslavia and abroad. We present a selection of pictures from various spheres of life in Slovenia and partly outside its borders, including recordings from the sports world, from the worlds of culture, politics, economy, rural and everyday life, some selected portraits, as well as photos that typify Edi Šelhaus’ photo-humour.

The fourth group presents the last period of Šelhaus’ life, in retirement as a “photojournalist in slippers,” as he called himself, from 1973 virtually to his final days. The selected photographs symbolically represent some of the thematic groupings with which Edi Šelhaus dealt, especially the Carinthian Slovenes in the struggle for minority rights, stories of the rescue of Allied pilots shot down during the Second World War, the independence of Slovenia, sports personalities and some fellow photojournalists, as well as impressions from life in Trieste, to where he always liked to return. We have also prepared other material to shed light on Edi Šelhaus’ life and work – Šelhaus’ personal documents and objects, as well as film material and excerpts from audio recordings by Edi Šelhaus.


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