Der Greif - Guest Room: Marina Paulenka
Der Greif - Guest Room: Marina Paulenka
Der Greif - Guest Room: Marina Paulenka
Balancing Belonging

Theme for Guest Room

Guest Room aims to spark collaboration. Marina Paulenka, founding Director of Exhibitions at Fotografiska Berlin, is teaming up with Fotografiska’s Exhibition Manager Thomas Schäfer. Together, they have developed the following framework for your submissions: "Balancing Belonging".

Humans are social creatures, and we naturally crave connection and community.

Belonging is a very basic need – from the moment of our birth belonging to a group provides us with safety, guidance and learning opportunities. It is at the core of us as individuals.

However, balancing our enate longing for a community with the need for self-care can be a challenging task. In today’s world belonging to something or someone constitutes our identity – especially at a young age. This kind of existential pressure holds a strong risk of compromising our personal integrity along with physical and mental health.

Balancing our longing for community with the need for self-care is a delicate dance. It requires establishing healthy boundaries, seeking out supportive communities, and communicating our needs with others. This makes balancing the longing for community with the need for self-care a crucial endeavor of our generation. How can we prioritize our own well-being and foster more meaningful and fulfilling connections with those around us?

Why submit to Guest Room?

  • Get the chance to be awarded a 1.000 € Guest Room Scholarship
  • Be discovered by two experts in contemporary art and photography
  • Get published in an online showcase on Der Greif alongside emerging artists from all over the world
  • Submit for free or pay a voluntary donation of 8€
  • Please note: Images which have been selected for a previous Der Greif opportunity are not eligible for re-submission. We want to support the broadest range of photographers possible and therefore encourage you to submit work that has not yet been selected by our past Guest Curators. Any images which do not comply with these terms will be removed from the selection process.

Voluntary donation

After over a decade of serving the international photography community Der Greif is now finally a registered non-profit. We believe this organizational structure best reflects our artistic and cultural mission. As always, your artistic contribution makes our work on Der Greif possible.

Since starting Guest Room in January 2015, we’ve been working hard to invite a broad range of practitioners, from gallerists to editors and curators. We are convinced that this format is an interesting and low-barrier approach to help artists get their work in front of people who might be interested in working with them. For this reason, we are asking you to consider making a financial contribution as well. That’s why we’re suggesting a voluntary donation of 8€ as a submission fee. 100% of the funds we collect from your donations will go towards helping us continue providing interesting opportunities for the photography community through Guest Room, and thus expand Der Greif.

We believe in inclusivity. We don’t want this suggested donation to stand in the way of your submission. If you are unable to contribute financially, please send an email to to receive a voucher code which will allow you to enter for free.

About Marina Paulenka

Marina Paulenka is the founding Director of Exhibitions at Fotografiska Berlin, where she is responsible for the museum’s exhibition strategy and artistic direction. Fotografiska is the contemporary museum for photography, arts and culture. Paulenka has 15 years of experience in artistic direction, curating, education, leadership, management and development in culture and art institutions and organisations, but also in her artistic practice. She was the Artistic Director of UNSEEN Amsterdam contemporary photography art fair and Director and Chief Curator of the Organ Vida International Photography Festival, Zagreb.

About Thomas Schäfer

Thomas Schäfer is Exhibition Manager at Fotografiska Berlin. Growing up in São Paulo and Mainz, initially originally interested in architecture. After changing his focus, Schäfer completed his fine art studies focused on photography. Taken part in several international exhibitions. Schäfer had the opportunity to observe different social and family environments in different communities. Since he has been living in Germany again, he has been trying to process his memories and past in his pictures. Schäfer lived and worked in South America, Europe, Southeast Asia, West Africa and North America.

About Der Greif Guest Room

Guest Room is a monthly online exhibition with open submissions curated in real-time by personalities from the international photography scene. Der Greif is an award-winning organization for contemporary photography. It is print-publication, online-publication, curatorial team and joint project all at once. Der Greif connects the digital and the analogue, exploring and expanding the borders and limits of image-distribution and -reception in the digital era.

Any questions?

Please feel free to contact us.

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