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The opening sequence of Leni Riefenstahl’s Olympia (1938) is recognized for its exacerbation of neoclassical beauty, strength and racial purity. Its closing scenes, however, depict a different embodied reality: athletes struggle with the vulnerability and exhaustion experienced at the finishing line, the unavoidable halting of speed wrought by their overextension, and the need to be held, covered and cared for.

Defeat and despair are the visible traces with which Riefenstahl ends one of the greatest political propaganda masterpieces of the twentieth century. The ending scenes of her filmic ode to the extravagant site of Third Reich political theatre that was the Berlin Olympics of 1936 is the departure point of Ian Waelder (b. 1993, Madrid) to explore the continuum of mourning and... [Read more]

Photo documentation on this website by:
John Forest, Natasha Lebedeva, Lúa Oliver, Ivan Murzin, Iain Emaline, Juan David Cortés, Paul Levack, Jiyoon Chung, Augustine Paredes, Juande Jarillo, Eva Carasol, Sebastiano Luciano, Nick Ash
© Ian Waelder, 2024