Museum Folkwang, Essen
"What is photography? Is it a print, an object or is it a jpg on your screen? Does it only exist if you print it out? Does it only count if it’s a big file, a TIFF? Or is it a snapshot on your phone or a slide projection, or is it the image you see in your mind before you click the shutter? Is it that great picture you missed, the time you ran out of film or the camera jammed or you didn’t even have your camera with you? In short, is photography an object or an image, or is it a way of seeing?" (Zoe Leonard)
Ever since its invention 175 years ago artists have consistently questioned the nature of photography. Today artists acutely aware of the omnipresence of photographic images produce works exploring numerous aspects of photography: its materiality, its popularism, its psychological impact, its claims to objectivity, and its force in mass media. Against a familiar backdrop of the accelerating disappearance of analog photography and the simultaneously triumphal progress of digital photography, these works explore new ways of re-picturing and inhabiting that history. The exhibition presents a history of photography that is wild and ironic, with tinges of melancholy here and there.
The second part of the exhibition – Manifestos – presents ground-breaking texts by those who are always the most radical writers on photography: photographers themselves. László Moholy-Nagy, August Sander, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Martha Rosler and Germaine Krull and many others wrote strong declarative texts – in a 20th century context of avant-garde movements deeply wound up with photography announcing their intentions in seminal publications of all sorts and even radio broadcasts exhorting readers and listeners to see the world with new eyes through the medium. Reflected in an elaborate spatial scenography, the manifestos are displayed alongside photographic incunabula of their authors.
Works Claudia Angelmaier, Michael Badura, Sylvia Ballhause, Laura Bielau, Viktoria Binschtok, Kristleifur Björnsson, Anna und Bernhard Blume, Christian Boltanski, Günter Karl Bose, Johannes Brus, Michel Campeau, Sarah Charlesworth, Jojakim Cortis & Adrian Sonderegger, Tacita Dean, Bogomir Ecker, Hans Eijkelboom, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Joan Fontcuberta, Florian Freier, Katharina Gaenssler, Jochen Gerz, G.R.A.M., Aneta Grzeszykowska, Jeff Guess, Rudolf Herz, John Hilliard, Alfredo Jaar, Kenneth Josephson, Erik Kessels, Jochen Lempert, Zoe Leonard, Les Levine, Zbigniew Libera, Stanislaw Markowski, Santu Mofokeng, Ugo Mulas, Andreas Müller-Pohle, Renate Heyne & Floris M. Neusüss, Peter Piller, Steven Pippin, Richard Prince, Barbara Probst, Arnulf Rainer, Timm Rautert, Benjamin Rinner, Józef Robakowski, Thomas Ruff, Ed Ruscha, Adrian Sauer, Joachim Schmid, Pavel Maria Smejkal, Michael Snow, Clare Strand, Larry Sultan & Mike Mandel, Jirō Takamatsu, Vibeke Tandberg, Ulrich Tillmann & Wolfgang Vollmer, Wolfgang Tillmans, Axel Töpfer, Timm Ulrichs, Franco Vaccari, Matthias Wähner, Gillian Wearing, Jan Wenzel, Christopher Williams, Akram Zaatari
Manifestos Shahidul Alam, ANT!FOTO/Katja Stuke & Oliver Sieber, Nobuyoshi Araki, Keith Arnatt, Mel Bochner, Victor Burgin, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Louis Jacues Mandé Daguerre, Louis Darget, Eugenio Dittborn, Hossam el-Hamalawy, Peter Henry Emerson, Group f/64, Francis Frith, Luigi Ghirri, Raoul Hausmann, John Heartfield, Mishka Henner, Rudolf Herz, Lewis W. Hine, Thomas Hirschhorn, Edwin Hoernle, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Martin Kippenberger, Oscar Krifka, Germaine Krull, Heiner Kurzbein, Dorothea Lange, Sherrie Levine, Jerzy Lewczynski, Lomographische Gesellschaft, Man Ray, F.T. Marinetti / Tato, Chris Marker, Renzo Martens, Peter McKenzie, Lucia Moholy, László Moholy-Nagy, Johannes Molzahn, Daido Moriyama, Maurice Vidal Portman, Albert Renger-Patzsch, Alexander Rodtschenko, Martha Rosler, August Sander, Joachim Schmid, Allan Sekula, Jo Spence / Terry Dennett, Otto Steinert, Hito Steyerl, Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, William Henry Fox Talbot, Karel Teige, Raoul Ubac, Timm Ulrichs, Johan van der Keuken, Ai Weiwei, Minor White
The exhibition is being kindly supported by the Kulturstiftung des Bundes and the Kunststiftung NRW.