Archive for October, 2022

30
Oct
22

Exhibition: ‘Mining Photography. The Ecological Footprint of Image Production’ at Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg

Exhibition dates: 15th July – 31st October 2022

Curators: The exhibition is curated by artist, author and curator Boaz Levin and Dr. Esther Ruelfs, Head of the Photography and New Media Collection at MK&G.

Artists: Ignacio Acosta, Lisa Barnard, F& D Cartier, Optics Division of the Metabolic Studio (Lauren Bon, Tristan Duke und Richard Nielsen), Susanne Kriemann, Mary Mattingly, Daphné Nan Le Sergent, Lisa Rave, Alison Rossiter, Robert Smithson, Simon Starling, Anaïs Tondeur, James Welling, Noa Yafe, Tobias Zielony

 

 

Mary Mattingly (American, b. 1979) 'Mineral Seep' 2016

 

Mary Mattingly (American, b. 1979)
Mineral Seep
2016
C-print
© Mary Mattingly

 

 

A worthy subject I had never really thought about. Kudos to the curators for digging into (pardon the pun) and conceptualising the “five chapters following the different materials used for photographic production: Copper for the daguerreotypes, fossil fuels and their derivatives such as coal and bitumen for the printing processes, silver for the widely used silver gelatin prints of the 20th century, Paper as a carrier material, and, today, rare earths and metals for our ever-shrinking cameras and smartphones, and the energy required for the so-called “cloud”.”

Something has to change very quickly because almost everything the human race produces seems to add to the burden of this earth. Consumerism, capitalism, money, power, greed. I despair of the human race saving the earth. We might end up with ‘being’ only to be confronted by ‘nothingness’.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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Many thankx to the Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Mining Photography. The Ecological Footprint of Image Production' at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg

 

Installation view of the exhibition Mining Photography. The Ecological Footprint of Image Production at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg showing at left, work from Anaïs Tondeur’s series Carbon Black

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Mining Photography. The Ecological Footprint of Image Production' at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg

 

Installation view of the exhibition Mining Photography. The Ecological Footprint of Image Production at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg showing on the table the work of Ignacio Acosta; and at far right, a contemporary enlargement of G.H. Johnson’s Outdoor view of a large mining operation on the North Fork American River 1852 Daguerreotype enhanced with gold

 

 

The exhibition Mining Photography: The Ecological Footprint of Image Production is dedicated to the material history of key resources used for image production, addressing the social and political context of their extraction and waste and its relation to climate change. Using historical photographs and contemporary artistic positions as well as interviews with restorers, geologists, and climate researchers, the exhibition tells the story of photography as one of industrial production, showing the extent to which the medium has been deeply intertwined with human change of the environment. By focusing on the ways by which industrial image production has been materially and ideologically implicated in climate change, rather merely using it to depict its consequences, the exhibition employs a radically new perspective towards this subject.

Ever since its invention, photography has depended on the global extraction and exploitation of so-called natural resources. In the early 19th century, these were salt, fossil fuels such as bitumen and carbon, as well as copper and silver, which were all used for the first images on copper plates and for salt paper prints. By the late 20th century, the photographic industry was one of the most important consumers of silver, responsible, at its peak, for about a quarter of the metal’s global consumption. Today, with the advent of digital photography and the ubiquity of mobile devices, image production is contingent on rare earths and metals such as coltan, cobalt, and europium. Image storage and distribution also consume immense amounts of energy. One scholar recently observed that Americans produce more photographs every two minutes than were made in the entire nineteenth century. Mining Photography: The Ecological Footprint of Image Production is dedicated to the material history of key resources used for image production, addressing the social and political context of their extraction and waste and its relation to climate change. Using historical photographs and contemporary artistic positions as well as interviews with restorers, geologists, and climate researchers, the exhibition tells the story of photography as one of industrial production, showing the extent to which the medium has been deeply intertwined with human change of the environment. By focusing on the ways by which industrial image production has been materially and ideologically implicated in climate change, rather merely using it to depict its consequences, the exhibition employs a radically new perspective towards this subject.

The exhibition is divided into five chapters following the different materials used for photographic production: Copper for the daguerreotypes, fossil fuels and their derivatives such as coal and bitumen for the printing processes, silver for the widely used silver gelatin prints of the 20th century, Paper as a carrier material, and, today, rare earths and metals for our ever-shrinking cameras and smartphones, and the energy required for the so-called “cloud”.

Interviews with conservators, climate scientists, and geologists highlight various aspects of the production process in relation to its ecological footprint. The exhibition thus consists of historical materials used during different image production techniques, historical artefacts, contemporary works, as well as information conveyed by the interviews.

“Mining Photography” traces exemplary individual supply chains, and analyses how photography’s materiality – which remains invisible to naked eye – has changed over the years. For instance, it will ask where the copper and silver used for Hermann Biow’s daguerreotype of the polymath, explorer and mining officer Alexander von Humboldt came from?

The “Copper, Gold, and the Daguerreotype” section looks at the copperplates that were photography’s first image supports in the 1840s and 1850s. The plates were produced on an industrial scale, primarily in Paris, and sold around the world. Copper was refined in Wales, in the area of Swansea, powered by the burgeoning fossil fuel industry. Ores were shipped to England from all over the world and smelted there to be traded worldwide. Photography was dependent on the copper trade, and the rapid proliferation of the medium would have been inconceivable without fossil fuels, colonial expansion, and the exploitative extraction of minerals.

The photographs from the time of the gold rush give a clear indication of the impact of the extractive mining industry, providing a documentary record of both the destruction of the landscape and the self-enactment of the gold miners, who proudly present themselves to the camera as entrepreneurs. Their female counterparts, the “Pit Brow Women” from Wigan represent the invisible labor that accompanies an industrialised product like photography. Specially created for the exhibition, Ignacio Acosta’s Hygieia Watches Over Us links the copper sculpture depicting the personification of health and hygiene with the copper-producing company Aurubis in Hamburg. It is part of the artist’s “Copper Geographies” project (ongoing since 2010), which traces the international trade routes followed by copper originating from his native Chile.

In “Fossil Fuels, Coal, and Bitumen”, we focus on the use of soot or coal as a pigment that is mixed in with photographic dyes, as can be seen, for example, in works by Anaïs Tondeur, Oscar and Theodor Hofmeister, Eduard Arning, and Susanne Kriemann. The motifs that are shown present us with moor landscapes in which coal is mined. An authentic “material unconscious” is laid down here as picture content in the photographs. Another fossil fuel is light-sensitive bitumen, a naturally occurring asphalt that was used in photographic production. For the exhibition, Noa Yafe created a work that shows the Dead Sea landscapes in which this raw material naturally occurs.

“Paper and Its Coating” focuses on the materials cotton, cellulose, gelatin, and celluloid. Europe was the centre of paper production in the 19th century, with cotton or flax rags initially used to make it. In the period around 1860, cotton was planted and harvested in the southern states of the US using slave labor. It was then shipped to Europe, where it was processed into fabrics, which served, in the form of rags, as the basis for most of the paper that was produced. It was not until the 20th century that cellulose derived from wood was first used in paper production. The photographers Alison Rossiter and F&D Cartier explore the different materiality of historical photographic papers in “discovered” images with an abstract poetic quality. Animal products were a vital ingredient used for coating the papers. In the 19th century, it was eggs, followed in the 20th century by gelatin, most of which was obtained from the bones of cows. In their pictures, which centre in different ways on the materials used in photographic coating, Madame d’Ora and James Welling document and reflect upon the brutal reality of industrialised meat production. Another work, especially created for the exhibition by Tobias Zielony and based on research he conducted at the former Agfa Filmfabrik Wolfen, focuses on the aspects of labor and ecology in the photographic industry.

The precious metal silver forms the basis of the photographic image, which still relies on it today. Of all the raw materials dealt with in the exhibition, silver is absolutely key to the global photographic industry, which, at least for now, is at present its largest consumer. It is here that we get the clearest indication of the sheer quantity of material that is required. The works of Daphné Nan Le Sergent, Simon Starling, and Metabolic Studio’s Optics Division allude to the connections between silver mining’s colonial background, the extraction of the raw material, and the process of refining it. Sergent also shows how the metals’ market value has been a the influence of the market value of metals, a driving force behind photographic technical innovations, which it has made that has made them more lucrative. Rather than being brilliant individual success stories, inventions are only possible and fruitful at a particular time and under particular conditions: witness the work of Hercule Florence, whose parallel development of a photographic process in South America remained unknown.

Lastly, “The Weight of the Cloud: Rare Earths, Metals, Energy, and Waste” looks at the resources that are needed to produce, display, and store digital images. Mining rare earths requires considerable amounts of energy: together with the “conflict minerals”, they are built into our smartphones and data storage devices used in the distribution of images. The rare earths ultimately end up in the burgeoning mountains of e-waste in the Global South, which are constantly growing to keep pace with our hunger for new devices. Lisa Barnard’s research-based work The Canary and the Hammer looks at the aspect of recycling with a focus on the precious metal gold. Mary Mattingly tracks cobalt’s complex and often opaque supply chains, mapping their course and constantly updating her rendering of them in response to market events. Lisa Rave’s video essay centres on the rare-earth metal europium. The app developed by Christoph Knoth and Konrad Renner together with their students at the University of Fine Arts Hamburg (HFBK) allows visitors to look at their phones in terms of their durability and recyclability, enabling them to probe into their own energy consumption.

 

Historical Material and Loans

The exhibition shows historical works by Eduard Christian Arning, Hermann Biow and Oscar and Theodor Hofmeister, Jürgen Friedrich Mahrt and Hermann Reichling. Together with historical photographic material from the Agfa Fotohistorama Leverkusen, photographic material from the Eastman Kodak Archive, Rochester, the FOMU Antwerpen and mineral samples collected by Alexander von Humboldt from the collection of the Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin, they represent the wealth of photographic products and processes whose raw materials the exhibition focuses on.

The exhibition is curated by artist, author and curator Boaz Levin and Dr. Esther Ruelfs, Head of the Photography and New Media Collection at MK&G.

 

Catalogue

The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication (German/English) with contributions by Siobhan Angus, Nadia Bozak, Boaz Levin, Brett Neilson, Esther Ruelfs, Christoph Ribbat, Karen Soli, 174 pages, Spector Verlag, Leipzig

Press release from the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg

 

 

Tobias Zielony (German, b. 1973) 'Dunkelraum' 2022

 

Tobias Zielony (German, b. 1973)
Dunkelraum (Darkroom)
2022
Slide installation
© Tobias Zielony

 

 

Ever since its invention, photography has depended on the global extraction and exploitation of so called natural resources. In the early 19th century, these were salt, fossil fuels such as bitumen and carbon, and copper and silver, which were all used for the first images on copper plates and for salt paper prints. By the late 20th century, the photographic industry was one of the most important consumers of silver, responsible, at its peak, for over half of the metal’s global consumption. Today, with the advent of digital photography and the ubiquity of mobile devices, image production is contingent on rare earths and metals such as coltan, cobalt, and europium. The storage and distribution of images also generate immense amounts of CO2.

The exhibition is dedicated to the material history of the key resources used for photography. It traces the social and political context of their extraction and disposal and how this relates to climate change. Using historical photographs and contemporary artistic positions as well as interviews with a chemist, an activist, a restorer, a mineralogist, and a biologist, the exhibition tells the story of photography as one of industrial production, showing the extent to which the medium is implicated in climate change.

 

Copper and the Daguerreotype

In 1802, Alexander von Humboldt collected mineral samples containing copper and silver on his research trip through South and Central America. A good forty years later, the use of such materials made it possible for Humboldt to be photographed. Silver-coated copper plates were the first image supports to enjoy widespread usage in photography.  The silver layer of these daguerreotypes, made light sensitive by iodine, was applied to a base of copper, which resulted in plates that were both more robust and less expensive. In 1839, when the daguerreotype was invented, such silver-coated copper sheets, produced using the so-called Sheffield Plate technique, were an inexpensive material employed for a whole range of silver household items, from trays to candlesticks. In Paris alone, the production of daguerreotypes required 100 tons of copper a year, producing in 1851 almost a million whole plates. Photography thus benefited decisively from the upswing in copper processing.

Beginning in the early 18th century in Swansea, Wales, coal was used to smelt copper ore on an industrial scale far away from the site where it was found. By the 1840s, ores from Cuba, Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Peru, Australia, and New Zealand were being processed in Swansea smelting works, which now produced more than a third of the copper that was traded worldwide – not without consequences for people and the environment. A look at Swansea reveals that photography’s global success would have been inconceivable without the use of fossil fuels, colonial expansion, and the world-wide extraction of metal deposits.

 

Hermann Biow and Alexander von Humboldt

Photographic pioneer Hermann Biow’s clear, unfussy visual language quickly made him a sought-after portraitist in prominent circles. In 1850, his Deutsche Zeitgenossen (German Contemporaries) portfolio was published with copperplate engravings from his photographs of artists, scientists, and politicians. In 1847, Biow had also photographed the famous naturalist Alexander von Humboldt in Berlin for the project. Humboldt, whose goal it was to depict the entire physical world in one work, was employed as a mining official for the Prussian authorities before setting out in 1799 on his first major research trip through South, Central, and North America. He brought back from there samples of the metals that would be the key elements in Biow’s daguerreotypes half a century later. The silver- and copper-bearing minerals that he collected give a sense of how these raw materials occur in nature and how, after the complex processing steps, their materiality is ultimately concealed by the finished photograph. Humboldt also recorded the way these precious metals circulated between the continents – a requirement for the industrial-scale production of daguerreotype plates – in a map in his Geographical and Physical Atlas of the Kingdom of New Spain, published in 1811. There is still some dispute, however, as to whether Humboldt was the first to warn of the dangers of anthropogenic climate change when, in 1843, he raised the question in his publication Central-Asien of the extent to which humans were influencing the climate “by felling the forests, altering the arrangement of bodies of water, and developing large masses of steam and gas at the epicenters of industry.”

Hermann Biow (b. 1804 in Breslau, d. 1850 in Dresden) was a portrait painter and lithographer and an important pioneer of photography in Germany. His documentation of the devastation of Hamburg after the fire of 1842 was the first photo reportage in history. The natural scientist Alexander von Humboldt (b. 1769 in Berlin, d. 1859 in Berlin) was an early fan of photography and saw it as “one of the most delightful and wondrous discoveries” of his time, even if he never operated a camera himself.

 

Daguerreotypes of the Californian Gold Rush

When, in 1848, it became known that gold had been discovered in the bed of the American River, people headed west to California in their hundreds of thousands to seek their fortune, together with traders, merchants, and photographers. Every gold prospector was also a potential customer wanting to send home a photo after a successful dig. The gold rush led to a boom in early photography and became the first event in US history to be comprehensively documented in photographs. Many daguerreotypists travelled straight to the mines as itinerant photographers. They portrayed gold diggers in threadbare clothing with tools and weapons, thereby presenting the Californian adventurers as the antithesis of the sophisticated denizens of the big cities. At the same time, they recorded the ongoing evolution of the techniques used in gold prospecting. The prospectors started out manually washing the precious metal from the river sediment using pans. But in the 1850s companies began extracting gold on an industrial scale. Watercourses were diverted so that gold could be retrieved from the drained riverbeds; “hydraulic” mining applied high pressure jets of water to detach gold-bearing sediments from hillsides and cliffs; and explosives and heavy equipment were used to dig veins of gold from underground. The gold rush daguerreotypes are thus the first documentation too of environmentally destructive mining practices. Here, it is easy to miss the fact that the images also record the mining of a material that was necessary for their own production: gold chloride had been in constant use as a fixative for daguerreotypes since 1841. Mercury represents another link between mining and photography. While photographers’ use of it as a developing agent jeopardised their own health primarily, its accessory role in gold washing caused the contamination of entire rivers in the area around the mines.

 

Cartes de visite of pit brow women

The photographs show the women who, from the early 17th century on, worked unseen in Britain’s coal mines, first below ground, and later, following the passage of the Mines and Collieries Act (1842), carrying out the lower-paid jobs on the surface. As mine workers, they moved lumps of coal with shovels and carts and separated them from the gangue using large sieve pans. Their work was a major economic contributor to Britain’s industrial success. Coal was a key element underpinning many production sectors, and it was crucial for the processing of copper, which was used in manufacturing daguerreotype plates. The British poet Arthur J. Munby collected photographs of working-class women, which catered to his interest in sociology. He bought photographs of women workers distributed as cartes de visite and also had studio photographs taken that depicted the women in their work clothes and pit gear. Unlike the Californian prospectors, who presented themselves in daguerreotypes as gold rush entrepreneurs and adventurers, the women seen in these images had little in common with the classical notions of the Victorian era. The view they showed of women in dirty work clothes (including trousers) turned the pictures into collectible motifs. We see the women sitting with legs apart and hands on hips – self-reliant poses with strong male connotations – photographed in a studio setting, where the furnishings were at odds with their class affinities.

 

Ignacio Acosta

Created for the exhibition, Ignacio Acosta’s multimedia installation centres on forty photographs arranged in a four-row grid structure. They combine three motifs linked together in a visually associative network, straddling copper production and water consumption. In the topmost rank, we see a smokestack belonging to the Hamburg copper producer Aurubis AG rising aloft, paralleled by the sculpture of Hygieia, which is mounted on a fountain with her back turned on Hamburg’s city hall, looking towards the Chamber of Commerce. Acosta makes a connection between the resource-intensive and, above all, water intensive industry – a major source of pollution for the Elbe River – and the politically charged sculpture commemorating the dreadful cholera epidemic of 1892, which was caused by contaminated water. In the rows below, close-up views of the fountain are interlaced with stained rubber suits worn by Aurubis AG’s workers to protect themselves from sulfuric acid. Visual and material analogies arise, linking the copper parts of the bronze sculpture, which have been oxidised to a green patina, with the tokens of “dirty” work in the copper plant – a thematic examination of the relationships between industry, politics, and society in terms of water and resource consumption. Acosta delves deeper into these themes in a video interview with Klaus Baumgardt from the Hamburg-based environmental protection initiative “Save the Elbe.” This new installation thus expands on his work Copper Geographies, an investigation into the global mobility of mined copper that he began in 2010.

Text from the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg

 

John Cooper (British) 'Woman miner' 1860s

 

John Cooper (British)
Woman miner
1860s
Carte de visite Trinity College Library, Cambridge

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Mining Photography. The Ecological Footprint of Image Production' at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg

 

Installation view of the exhibition Mining Photography. The Ecological Footprint of Image Production at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg showing the work of Ignacio Acosta

 

Ignacio Acosta (Chilean, b. 1971) 'Computer Aid' 2015

 

Ignacio Acosta (Chilean, b. 1971)
Computer Aid
2015
© Ignacio Acosta

 

Ignacio Acosta (Chilean, b. 1971) 'Hygieia Watches Over Us' 2022 (detail)

 

Ignacio Acosta (Chilean, b. 1971)
Hygieia Watches Over Us (detail)
2022
Installation comprising 40 pigment prints and video
© Ignacio Acosta

 

 

Coal and Bitumen: Fossil Fuels and Moorland

The majority of photographic processes popular around 1900, such as pigment printing, rubber printing, and heliogravure, did not require silver. In pigment or carbon printing, charcoal powder or lampblack, which consists of nearly pure carbon, replaces the silver grains. The heliogravure technique uses plates coated with bitumen and pigments, which lend the images their colour. This section of the exhibition deals with different perceptions of the landscapes in which the raw materials were found and extracted: peat bogs and moors in northern Germany, bitumen in the area around the Dead Sea in Jordan.

The pictures produced by Reichling and Mahrt – natural scientist and farmer, respectively – document the transformation of the moors and the shift from peasant labour to turf cutting and industrialised peat extraction. At the turn of the 20th century, when the work of draining, reclaiming, and burning the moorland began on a large scale, the landscape, which had been transformed by human intervention, was also consciously aestheticised and presented as an artistic ideal.

The raw materials used to produce these images originated in the moors too. The coal dust used as a pigment is created from dead trees, enriched with solar energy, that over the course of millennia have been pressed first into peat and then into coal. The photographs by Louis Vignes, and Charles Nègre’s prints of these images, depict the landscape of the Dead Sea, an area where bitumen, a form of petroleum, occurs naturally. Nègre used this material to coat the plates for their production of Vignes’s photos. This knowledge makes evident the connection between the motif, the landscape from which the raw material is extracted, and bitumen. Although invisible at first, this material relation inscribes in the image a kind of second, unconscious history.

 

Theodor and Oscar Hofmeister

The Hofmeister brothers present the moorlands around Hamburg as an area imbued with longing. The white blooms of the cottongrass accentuate the charming, painterly qualities of the idealised landscape, which is rendered in vertical format in the style of Japanese woodblock prints. The Hofmeisters do not show the furrowed ground, marked by the incipient signs of systematic peat extraction, or the geometrical lines of the drainage ditches. Instead, our eye is drawn in by a walkway projecting into the picture at an angle. The technique of multicolour gum bichromate printing, which came into vogue in the 1890s, uses pigments to render the photographic masters as prints that are made more durable by the admixture of soot.

Theodor Hofmeister (b. 1868 in Hamburg, d. 1943 in Hamburg) and Oscar Hofmeister (b. 1871 in Hamburg, d. 1937 in Ichenhausen) were amateur photographers alongside their professional work (as businessman and legal clerk, respectively). Exponents of the Pictorialist approach, they began exhibiting their work internationally in 1895. They specialised in multicolour gum bichromate printing.

 

Jürgen Friedrich Mahrt and Hermann Reichling

Moorlands contain the organic commodity peat. Once it has been drained, dug, and dried, it can be burned as a source of energy. This usage has a long history and was of great importance until the emergence of the coal industry. As naturalists, Jürgen Friedrich Mahrt and Hermann Reichling recorded how peat cutting infringed on nature and documented the massive impact it had. While Mahrt’s hand-coloured photographs are illustrative of the arduous manual labor involved, Reichling’s work gives a palpable sense of the industrial scale of this undertaking. He often seeks out compositions that set up a contrast between the supposedly pristine moor – which represents such an important habitat – and the drastic impact of human agency. In this way, he clearly shows how the natural vegetation is inscribed with an industrial grid of furrows, which gives structure to the photographs’ pictorial space as a graphical raster. It becomes evident here how nature is turned into a commodity, how with every cut that is dug, whether with a spade or an excavator, sods of peat are removed from the earth as a monetisable product. The shots showing the edges of the peat in cross section – as documented by both photographers – also allude to the temporal dimension of the resource: in the right conditions, it takes a thousand years to produce 1 meter of peat from organic material. However, the climate is being damaged not only by the commercial exploitation of the moorlands but also by the process of draining them, which releases huge amounts of CO2.

Jürgen Friedrich Mahrt (b. 1881 in Elsdorf, d. 1940 in Rendsburg) was a farmer and Hermann Reichling (b. 1890 in Heiligenstadt, d. 1948 in Münster) a biologist. As self-taught photographers, they made a record of their cultural and natural surroundings. In the 1920s, Mahrt founded a private museum in Elsdorf in which he exhibited natural history dioramas and photographs. Reichling was director of Münster’s museum of natural history, Provinzialmuseum für Naturkunde, from 1921 to 1948.

 

Eduard Arning

If you look closely at Eduard Arning’s large-format gum bichromate print of an iron and steel works, it has a leathery look that resembles skin. The print’s surface structure contains the pigments that give it its murkily indistinct visual effect. This is produced in large part by a blue-black colour produced when larger amounts of soot were mixed into the pigments. The surface of the paper, which has been treated with pigments and a binding agent, is exposed: these areas become fixed, while less exposed parts are rinsed away and remain lighter. In this case, the result is a nocturnal view of an iron and steel works, whose chimneys spout fire and belch smoke. The leaping flames and brightly lit windows were added after the fact by Arning and convey a Romantic idea of industrial production at the turn of the 20th century. To the right of the picture, a shadowy heap of ore looms large in the foreground, while on the left a somewhat brighter swath leads the eye into the depths of the picture and the glowing entrance to the factory. Towering next to it is the monumental chimney from which soot rises – a symbol of industrial progress. This returns in material form as blue-black pigment, extending right to the frontmost plane of the picture and giving the dark pile of ore its shape.

 

Anaïs Tondeur

Anaïs Tondeur’s work Carbon Black sees her delving into soot particles, which were an essential component used in photographic methods at the turn of the 20th century. A product of industrial combustion processes, consisting almost exclusively of carbon, soot is carried by wind and air currents and does not usually fall to the ground until it is hundreds of kilometres from the site of emission. The black particles of carbon absorb the sun’s rays, warming the atmosphere and thus contributing to the melting of the ice caps. Soot enters the human body through the lungs as a fine dust measuring less than 2.5 micrometers – breathed into the alveoli, it is transported into the bloodstream and finds its way into the internal organs. Working together with two climate researchers, the artist set out on a fifteen-day expedition traversing the UK. Using airflow analyses, the team determined the trajectory of soot particles, a trail that led from Fair Isle in Scotland to the port of Folkestone in the south of England. At each stop on their journey, they took photographs of the horizon using a helmet camera, measured the concentration of particulate matter, and recovered soot particles from the air. Inserted into printer cartridges as pigment, these particles were then used to produce a landscape photograph whose colour characteristics are specific to the site where the picture was taken. The severity of the air pollution is thus given expression in the dramatic grey and black tones of the cloud constellations depicted.

Anaïs Tondeur (b. 1985 in France) studied at Central Saint Martins and at the Royal College of Arts in London. Her research-based work explores the dynamic realm connecting the natural sciences, anthropology, and mythic narratives.

 

Susanne Kriemann

The artist works with heliogravure, a manual printing technique that is now no longer used in practice: the copper plate is dusted with asphalt powder and printed using a highly pigmented paint mixed with soot. In 2017, Susanne Kriemann began accompanying scientists from the University of Jena on their research trips to investigate the renaturation of the uranium mining area formerly operated by SDAG Wismut in the Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge). Uranium ore, a highly radioactive substance, was mined there between 1949 and 1990. Today, its soil is severely contaminated with heavy metals. Kriemann uses photography for her artistic research on the project – her logging of contaminated plants stretches the medium to the very limits of what it can depict, as the radiation measured by the researchers cannot be seen in the photograph. Notwithstanding, Kriemann has devised a method that allows her to inscribe the radioactivity in the image: she harvests individual plants that she has previously photographed and processes them to produce different-coloured pigments, which she mixes with soot and uses to print her heliogravures. This technique allows her to include the plants directly in the work she creates. In this way, the radioactivity becomes a physical element in her images.

Susanne Kriemann (b. 1972 in Erlangen) studied at the Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design (ABK Stuttgart) and the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Her research-based work is concerned with the technical requirements and historical conditions of photographic production.

 

Robert Smithson

In his 1969 work Asphalt Rundown, Robert Smithson abandoned the gallery space completely to realise his first outdoor earthwork. In a stone quarry south of Rome, he had a truckload of hot, liquid asphalt tipped down an eroding slope. In choosing the quarry, he opted for a landscape that bore the marks of human intervention, the first link in a variety of industrial supply chains. Smithson’s Asphalt Lump from 1968 had already demonstrated his interest in industrial composites and nature as shaped by humanity: it was at this point that he was invited by the Konrad Fischer Galerie to conduct research on the slag heaps in the Ruhr, together with the photographer couple Bernd and Hilla Becher. In the work in Rome, the inky black mass covers the barren earth in next to no time, causing the ground to disappear beneath it as it pushes its way down the slope like a natural river, cooling and congealing.

Smithson conceived the sculpture as a symbol of frozen time. In his view, time does not simply pass – rather, it is deposited in an ongoing process like layers of sediment in the soil. As a language construct, Asphalt Rundown links into the idea of photographic images as frozen moments. On the material level, meanwhile, Smithson’s use of asphalt also alludes to Nicéphore Niépce’s heliographic experiments, where the hardening of asphalt on a tin plate under the action of light was used to record fleeting images and was thus a means to freeze time. The natural asphalt used by Niépce can be found as bitumen judaicum in the area around the Dead Sea, where the visual scenery bears a striking resemblance to Smithson’s artificially created volcanic landscape.

Robert Smithson (b. 1938 in Passaic, New Jersey, d. 1973 in Texas) gained a reputation as an early exponent of land art. He applied his conceptual approaches to a study of the relationships between humans and nature, drawing parallels between industrial and geological processes.

 

Honoré d’Albert de Luynes, Louis Vignes, Charles Nègre

The atlas Voyage d’exploration à la mer Morte is a documentary account of the 1864 scientific, archaeological, and artistic expedition to the Dead Sea basin and the interior of Jordan. Financed by Honoré d’Albert, duc de Luynes, an archaeologist, scientist, and art connoisseur, the expedition was accompanied by, among others, the geologist Louis Lartet and the photographer Louis Vignes. D’Albert subsequently commissioned Charles Nègre – who was one of France’s best-known photographers and had developed a photomechanical reproduction process – to translate Vignes’s photographs into an official report on the expedition using photogravure plates. The publication that came out of this process can still be termed a handmade book. Nègre was not merely an accomplished technician, he also had the eye of an art photographer and created intermediate tonalities and shadows for Vignes’s images, which turned out to have too much contrast. His prints, which are rich in detail and the play of light and shadow, were on occasion composed of several negatives, and, in some cases, the clouds were superimposed. The atlas shows, among other things, the sites where the natural deposits of bitumen were found: this was the basis, in turn, for the gravure printing process that Nègre refined.

Honoré Théodoric Paul Joseph d’Albert de Luynes (b. 1802 in Paris, d. 1867 in Rome) was a numismatist, archaeologist, collector, scholar, and art lover. Born into an aristocratic family, he was endowed with a considerable fortune and financed the research trip to Jordan, in which he also took part. Louis Vignes (b. 1831 in Bordeaux, d. 1896 in Paris) was an admiral in the French navy and an amateur photographer. Charles Nègre (b. 1820 in Grasse, d. 1880 in Grasse) was a painter and photographer as well as a technician and inventor of his own photogravure method.

 

Noa Yafe

At first glance, we see a two-dimensional image, and it is only when we get closer to what is apparently a photograph mounted in the exhibition space that we register the three-dimensional sculpture let into the wall surface, which opens up like a diorama into the space behind it. Noa Yafe’s sculptures are based on photographs: these are used as templates. It is often scientific images that capture her imagination. The artist deals with the verity of photography and the moment of illusion; at the same time, by turning photographs into objects, she also addresses materiality in an age in which images have become immaterial. The master for the work she made for the exhibition is the black-and-white photograph Vue Prise au dessus de Mar Saba (View over Mar Saba) of the Jordanian hillscape around the Dead Sea. The picture was taken by Louis Vignes and reproduced by Charles Nègre using the photogravure technique: it appeared in the atlas Voyage d’exploration à la mer Morte (Expedition to the Dead Sea, 1868-1874). The artist uses real materials for the “photograph” she constructs.

Noa Yafe (b. 1978 in Israel) studied at the HaMidrasha School of Art at Beit Berl College and at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She works in the medium of photography and sculpture.

Text from the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg

 

Jürgen Friedrich Mahrt (German, 1882-1940) 'Making baked peat on Hartshoper Moor' c. 1930

 

Jürgen Friedrich Mahrt (German, 1882-1940)
Making baked peat on Hartshoper Moor
c. 1930
Gelatine silver paper, hand coloured
Collection Mahrt/Storm, Rendsburg/Berlin

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Mining Photography. The Ecological Footprint of Image Production' at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg

 

Installation view of the exhibition Mining Photography. The Ecological Footprint of Image Production at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg showing the work of Robert Smithson

 

Robert Smithson (American, 1938-1973) 'Asphalt Rundown' 1969

 

Robert Smithson (American, 1938-1973)
Asphalt Rundown
1969
Documentary photograph
© Holt/Smithson Foundation VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022

 

 

When the Bechers’ friend Robert Smithson poured oceans of glue down a hillside, or bulldozed dirt onto a shed until its roof cracked, he was mimicking the moves of heroic construction, not aiming to build anything.

Blake Gopnik. “Photography’s Delightful Obsessives,” on The New York Times website July 28, 2022 [Online] Cited 20/10/2022

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Mining Photography. The Ecological Footprint of Image Production' at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg

 

Installation view of the exhibition Mining Photography. The Ecological Footprint of Image Production at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg showing work from Anaïs Tondeur’s series Carbon Black

 

Anaïs Tondeur (French, b. 1985) 'North Sea, 27.05.2017, Carbon Black Level (PM2.5): 13,8 µg/m' 2017-2018

 

Anaïs Tondeur (French, b. 1985)
North Sea, 27.05.2017, Carbon Black Level (PM2.5): 13,8 µg/m
2017-2018
From the series Carbon Black
15 Carbon ink prints photographs, carbon black particles, cartography
100 x 150cm

 

 

Despite the absence of industries, the inhabitants of the isle of Fair suffer from suffocation. As Anaïs Tondeur reached the island she sent her geographic coordinates to climate modellers Rita van Dingenen and Jean-Philippe Putaud (JRC, European Commission) who retraced the itinerary of the particulate matters meeting her. By means of atmospheric backward trajectory models and the analyses of anthropogenic emission of air pollutants, they could define the site of emission of the particles. This abstract trajectory line lead the artist to an expedition of 837 miles by foot, ferry, fishing boat and car unravelling the journey of the anthropic meteors.

She crystallised each day in a photograph of the sky as well as filtering black carbon particles she encountered through breathing masks. The particles were later extracted by scientist J.P Putaud and turned into ink. In point of fact, black carbon is a collateral form of soot, used for centuries as the primary component of Indian ink. The photographs are thus printed with some ink composed from the particles captured in the sky where they were shot.

Text from the Anaïs Tondeur website [Online] Cited 16/10/2022

 

Anaïs Tondeur (French, b. 1985) 'Edinburg, 30.05.2017, Carbon Black Level (PM2.5): 8,18 µg/m³' 2017-2018

 

Anaïs Tondeur (French, b. 1985)
Edinburg, 30.05.2017, Carbon Black Level (PM2.5): 8,18 µg/m³
2017-2018
From the series Carbon Black
15 Carbon ink prints photographs, carbon black particles, cartography
100 x 150cm

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Mining Photography. The Ecological Footprint of Image Production' at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg

Installation view of the exhibition 'Mining Photography. The Ecological Footprint of Image Production' at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg

Installation view of the exhibition 'Mining Photography. The Ecological Footprint of Image Production' at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg

 

Installation view of the exhibition Mining Photography. The Ecological Footprint of Image Production at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg showing at left in the bottom photograph, heliogravures by Susanne Kriemann

 

Susanne Kriemann (German, b. 1972) 'Bitterkraut aus: Falsche Kamille, Wilde Möhre, Bitterkraut (Zyklus 2)' 2017

 

Susanne Kriemann (German, b. 1972)
Bitterkraut aus: Falsche Kamille, Wilde Möhre, Bitterkraut (Zyklus 2)
Bitterweed from: false chamomile, wild carrot, bitterweed (Cycle 2)
2017
Photogravure with ox-tongue pigment, 0.6 g soot on paper
80 x 60cm
© Susanne Kriemann

 

 

Paper and Its Coating: Cotton, Pulp, Gelatin, and Celluloid

The development of photography as a mass product, first made possible using paper as a material substrate, came at a cost. For most of the 19th century, photographic paper consisted primarily of rag made of cotton and flax. European manufacturers dominated the markets for textiles and paper throughout the century, but much of the raw material they used was sourced from the United States, which became cotton’s leading cultivator through its utilisation of slave labour and, after the Civil War, of share croppers and tenant farmers.

The cultivation of cotton was closely intertwined with the often-violent emergence of capitalism, precipitating the drainage of wetlands – whose ecosystems play a crucial role in carbon storage – and thus accelerating climate change. This cotton was then exported to Europe, where it was spun into clothes, which, when worn out, were collected by ragpickers – predominantly working-class children and women – and sold back to European paper mills, where women prepared them for pulping, removing buttons and bleaching them white using newly discovered toxic chlorine compounds.

The ever-increasing demand eventually led producers to seek an alternative to cotton. Perfected in Germany, wood pulping in entails the boiling of wood in sulfuric acid so as to separate it into individual cellulose fibres. The photo-paper industry’s use of animal-derived substances, such as albumin and gelatin, relied on industrialised farming and slaughter houses. A single photographic paper producer in Dresden used six million eggs a year for albumen coating, and as late as 1999 Kodak was still processing over thirty million kilos of cow skeletons every year.

 

Gevaert Photographic Paper

The 1964 merger of the German corporation Agfa AG and the Belgian company Gevaert Photo-Producten NV led to the creation of the Agfa- Gevaert Group. These two enterprises, each with a long tradition, combined to form one of the world’s leading producers of photographic goods, whose line extended from cameras to X-ray film. If we take, for example, black-and-white gelatin silver paper – one of Agfa-Gevaert’s core products and a staple of the photographic industry in general – it is still manufactured according to the same principles today. The paper substrate is coated with a layer of barium sulfate (also known as baryte), which covers the paper fibres and ensures that the emulsion of gelatin and light-sensitive silver halide grains applied at the end adheres to the base. The pictures from the Agfa archive offer an insight into this process. Although the layers were always built up in the same way, there was considerable variety in the photographic paper that was produced. The possible surfaces might be white or cream coloured, glossy or matte, smooth or textured and were available in up to six variants to allow the motif to be rendered with different degrees of contrast, from extra soft to ultra hard. Systematic research into photographic papers and their material properties did not start until a few years ago. One such example is the documentation of Gevaert papers by the FOMU Photo Museum in Antwerp, which should provide a better understanding of these products and facilitate their processing in both artistic and technical terms. A study of the packaging reveals that successful product lines were offered over a period of decades, even if their outer form changed with the times in line with contemporary tastes.

 

Alison Rossiter

Alison Rossiter’s photographic work is created without a camera or a lens, using expired photographic paper. Since 2007, the artist has collected approximately fifteen hundred packages of old photographic paper, starting from the late 19th century and representing every decade of the 20th. Rossiter mines what she describes as a “cross section of the history of photographic print materials” for their latent images – created by the effect on the paper over time of oxidation, light leaks, pollutants, or physical damage and then developed by the artist in the darkroom to reveal “found photograms.” At times, the artist marks the surface intentionally by pouring or pooling photographic developer directly onto the paper, or else limiting its contact with it, deftly combining chance and skill. The results are abstract images, fields of texture, spilled marks, and monochromes, in a subtle array of blacks, greys, and whites reminiscent of mid-century modernist painting. Each work’s title contains three facts: the manufacturer and type of paper, its expiration date as stated on its package, and the date that Rossiter processed the material. As indicated by its title, a work consisting of six prints included in the exhibition was produced using Gevaert Gevaluxe Velours paper, but their exact expiration date is unknown. First produced by Gevaert in 1933, Gevaluxe Velours was advertised by the company as the “most beautiful paper ever made” and is considered to this day to have been one the best commercially available papers due to its matte surface and intensely deep black shadows. A second work comprises of two images printed using an unnamed photographic paper produced by The Haloid Company, Rochester, for the US military. The abstract geometrical compositions’ material provenance reveals their connection to what could be called the military-photo-industrial-complex, but also hints at the origins of digital technologies within the photographic industries: in 1961 Haloid changed its name to Xerox Corporation, and would go on to invent some of the key technologies in personal computing.

 

F & D Cartier, Wait and See – The Never Taken Images

In 1998, F & D Cartier began investigating the materiality of photographic paper in a work group entitled Wait and See. For them, the work is an exploration of the rudiments of the medium and a way of engaging with the flood of photographic images produced in the digital age. In their installations, the artists use expired photographic papers dating from the years 1890 to 2000, which have lost some of their sensitivity but still respond to light. Their exposure in the exhibition space triggers an ongoing process of slow change as their appearance constantly alters. Without any recourse to a camera or photochemistry, the duo thus brings to life images that were never taken and examines their potential. At the same time, their radically simplified experiment, designed to record light and time, connects back to the early days of the medium, when developing photographic paper was still unusual and daylight exposure was the principal means of blackening the silver salts. The surprising colours produced by the undeveloped gelatin silver emulsions reveal another invisible aspect of analog photography: in this way, F & D Cartier’s experiment conveys a profound sense of the complexity of a material that was ubiquitous in the 20th century.

Françoise Cartier (b. 1952 in Tavannes) studied sculpture at École des Arts Appliqués in Bern; Daniel Cartier (b. 1950 in Biel/Bienne) studied photography at Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK). Their experiments with photographic materials, which they embarked on together in 1995, have been devoted to themes relating to remembering, forgetting, and the passing of time.

 

James Welling

Throughout his career, James Welling has reflected on photography’s history and nature by examining the medium’s materiality through the lens of its most common components. Used as a binding layer for gelatin silver prints, gelatin’s prevalence in photographic images normally remains invisible to the naked eye. In this series, produced in 1984, Welling chose to portray the substance in a style reminiscent of product photography. Infused with black ink and then cooled, the sculpted chunks of gelatin were placed against a seamless white background, creating semi-abstract compositions with the appearance of shining coal or black glass. Welling’s work highlights photography’s artifice: reflecting on the way it is consciously and explicitly staged, its choice of subject, and its referential indeterminacy. This is accentuated by the fact that it is difficult at first to tell what exactly it is we are looking at. In his work, Welling often creates a delay between the moment an image is seen and the time viewers understand what it depicts. Here, what the image is of is exactly what it is made of: as if by sleight of hand, Welling reveals image and substrate to be one and the same, reflecting on all that is normally left out of the frame or taken for granted – or all that is hidden by it – when we normally think of what photography is, and what it does to the world.

James Welling (b. 1951, Connecticut, US) studied at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh and later at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia. Throughout his career, Welling has experimented with different photographic media, exploring the tensions within and between representation and abstraction and challenging the medium’s conventions.

 

Madame d’Ora

Between 1949 and 1953, Madame d’Ora produced an unsparing photographic study of two Parisian slaughterhouses, which she would go on to describe as her “great final work.” Built during the 19th century under Napoleonic decree and in keeping with Baron Haussmann’s vision, slaughterhouses such as the Abattoir Ivry Les Halles and Abattoir de Vaugirard signalled the emergence in France of industrialised meat production governed by capitalist imperatives. It was in such abattoirs that the repetitive, procedural, and rationalised mode of the factory was first introduced into the realm of animal slaughter, a practice that was later perfected in the US with the introduction of the assembly line. Enabled by such developments, the exponential growth of the cattle industry during the 19th century contributed to the dramatic acceleration in carbon emissions that began in those years. To this day, cattle are considered the number one agricultural source of greenhouse gases worldwide (responsible for about 14 percent of total human-induced emissions). Madame d’Ora’s images seem to dissect her subjects, portraying them with a sense of tactility and precision and, at times, of the absurd. In some images, skin is stretched across the picture plane, resulting in near abstraction, while, in others, pools of blood and rows of clipped and flayed corpses fill the frame to capacity, creating a mood of excess and serialised death. Evoking a mixture of detachment and brutality, distance and cruelty, reminiscent of the horrors of the 20th century, the series has often been read as an implicit response to the Holocaust, during which many of d’Ora’s family members, including her sister Anna, were killed. By documenting the unpleasant reality behind industrial meat production, an essential component in many everyday commodities – including the gelatin-silver paper used for these prints – d’Ora sheds light on a dark and often ignored aspect of modernity.

Madame d’Ora (née Dora Philippine Kallmus, b. 1881 in Vienna, d. 1963 in Frohnleiten, Austria) was an Austrian Jewish photographer and one of the most acclaimed portraitists of fin-de-siècle Vienna. After the war, d’Ora was commissioned to produce a series representing refugees and displaced persons by the United Nations. It was at that time too that she started working on her slaughterhouse series.

 

Tobias Zielony

For Blackbox Wolfen, Tobias Zielony has created a fictional archive of the AGFA-ORWO film factory in Wolfen, combining still images and interviews with former employees who worked in the factory’s darkrooms. Predominantly women, the workers had to perform their tasks in near pitch darkness, in extreme cold or heat, exposed to various toxic chemicals. For the GDR, filmstock represented a valuable commodity that could be traded with the Soviet Union in exchange for silver, oil, and gas. ORWO also supplied cinematographic material to other socialist countries, as well as non-socialist economies such as Egypt and Brazil. One of the biggest export markets for ORWO film was India, which needed stock for its burgeoning movie industry and provided sun-bleached cow bones, used for high-quality film gelatin, in exchange. Today, only a single small company exists in Wolfen, primarily producing a highly specialised black-and-white archival film. Used by the German Federal Archive, the film is said to survive for up to a thousand years once exposed if it is stored in dark and cold environments, such as Germany’s National archive, which is located deep underground in the decommissioned silver mine of

Tobias Zielony (b. 1973 in Wuppertal, Germany) studied photography at the University of Wales, Newport, and later at the Academy of Fine Arts (HGB) Leipzig. He is known for his photographic and filmic depictions of youth and subcultures, which employ a critical approach to documentary photography.

Text from the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg

 

Madame d'Ora (Dora Kallmus) (Austrian, 1881-1963) 'Severed cows legs in a Parisian abattoir' c. 1953-1954

 

Madame d’Ora (Dora Kallmus) (Austrian, 1881-1963)
Severed cows legs in a Parisian abattoir
c. 1953-1954
Gelatin silver print
Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg

 

Madame d'Ora (Dora Kallmus) (Austrian, 1881-1963) 'Severed calf's head in a Parisian slaughterhouse' c. 1953-1954

 

Madame d’Ora (Dora Kallmus) (Austrian, 1881-1963)
Severed calf’s head in a Parisian slaughterhouse
c. 1953-1954
Gelatin silver print
31.7 × 24.5cm
Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg

 

Unknown photographer. 'Raw paper storage, Agfa AG, Leverkusen' 1956

 

Unknown photographer
Raw paper storage, Agfa AG, Leverkusen
1956
C-print, mounted on cardboard
Agfa Collection, Museum Ludwig, Cologne
© Museum Ludwig

 

James Welling (American, b. 1951) 'Gelatin Photograph 45' 1984

 

James Welling (American, b. 1951)
Gelatin Photograph 45
1984
Inkjet print
50.8 × 40.6cm

 

F&D Cartier. 'Wait and See' 1998 - today

 

F&D Cartier
Wait and See
1998 – today
Exposure tests, untreated gelatin silver photographic papers from Leonar, Illingworth & Co., Hans Mahn & Co., Wephota
©F&D Cartier

 

Tobias Zielony (German, b. 1973) 'Dunkelraum' 2022

 

Tobias Zielony (German, b. 1973)
Dunkelraum (Darkroom)
2022
Slide installation
© Tobias Zielony

 

 

Silver

Since the advent of the medium, silver has been the basis of the photographic image and the most important raw material used in the photochemical industry. In the popular gelatin silver process, it is embedded in the gelatin layer of the photographic paper, and the light-sensitive material then registers the image. The final image consists of small particles of metallic silver that turn black when exposed to light, while the unexposed silver halide crystals are washed away.

It was only the automation of production and commercial film development services that enabled photography to become a veritable mass medium. The growing number of amateur photographers caused the industry’s  silver consumption to explode. Photography remained the largest consumer of silver worldwide, even after 1979, when a massive rise in the price of silver led to the development of smaller photographic formats such as 110 film as well as research into digital photography. Photography is interwoven with global trade, the extraction of raw materials, and colonialism. The exploitation of Cerro Rico (“Rich Mountain”) in the Potosí region of Bolivia started back in the 15th century, and until the mid-20th century most silver was sourced in North and South America.

The production of film and photographic paper and its development has always been accompanied by significant environmental pollution, through both its high levels of water consumption and the contamination of waste water with alkalis, acids, and traces of silver. The impact of such pollution is to this day clearly visible in the areas around Eastman Kodak’s headquarters in Rochester (USA) and the ORW Ofactories in Bitterfeld-Wolfen.

The recovery of silver from photographic waste was first developed for economic reasons during the 19th century but was only established as standard practice in photographic production in the 1960s. Today such recycling processes are important – and not just with regard to a single finite raw material.

 

Simon Starling

In his sculptural work, Starling zooms in on the materiality of the photograph, using an electron microscope to single out two silver particles in the emulsion of a historical photo and then rendering them, with the help of a computer program, at a magnification of 1:1,000,000. This rendering is converted into a stainless-steel three-dimensional sculpture that is larger than a person, its seemingly fluid polished surface creating a virtual effect. Starling has described the photograph as a “deposit of matter”, an image produced by an agglomeration of silver particles. His rendering has its origins in the materiality and documentary function of a stereo-photograph showing Chinese migrant workers who had been brought to Massachusetts in 1870 to break a strike in a shoe factory. Made in China because of lower production costs, the sculptures reverse the trajectory in this story of labour migration. The Nanjing Particles can also be regarded, therefore, as a work about the development of systems of global production. Starling treats photographs as material objects that need to be produced and preserved. In the process, photographs activate memory and knowledge, at times revealing stories that have been suppressed.

Simon Starling (b. 1967 in Epsom) studied art and photography at various institutions, including the Glasgow School of Art. He works in the area of conceptual art. Starling’s work draws on models of sustainability and wasteful extravagance to focus on the historical trajectories of exploitation.

 

Optics Division of the Metabolic Studio (Lauren Bon, Tristan Duke, and Richard Nielsen)

The dry expanse of Owens Lake in the California desert is not only the subject of the work by the artists’ collective, it also supplies the material for it. Liminal Prints Buried in Owens Lake shows two large format photographs buried in the mud of the lake, where they are being “developed.” These images are on show in the exhibition along with the utensils used for the purpose. The silver nugget on display is the silver from two years of photographic work – including the exposures from the AgH2O series – that has been recovered from the fixer by a process of electrolysis.

The group of works originated with the artists’ attempt to produce their own photographic materials. The members of Metabolic Studio collected silver from the disused Cerro Gordo mine, harvested halide salts from the bottom of the lake, and processed gelatin from cattle from the region. The darkroom was replaced by the nighttime darkness, and the chemicals by brine from the lakebed, which contains large quantities of sodium thiosulfate, a fixing agent employed since the invention of photography. This rarely occurring element is produced by the microorganisms present there – archaea – which metabolise sulfur. The lakebed develops the images and fixes them at the same time.

To create the photographs in the AgH2O series, the collective used its “Liminal Camera,” a shipping container that has been converted into a large-format camera. The container symbolises the global trade in silver and water and the overexploitation of these resources: the silver from the Owens Valley was mostly used by Eastman Kodak to produce film (the company also supplied Hollywood), while, from 1913 on, the water slaked the increasing thirst of Los Angeles’s expanding metropolis. By 1924, the lake was all but dry. The landscape in the photographs is itself a quotation: we are familiar with the steppe valley from Hollywood westerns and Ansel Adams’s landscape images.

Lauren Bon (b. 1962 in New Haven), Tristan Duke (b. 1981 in Campaign), and Richard Nielsen (b. 1966 in Vancouver) started Optics Division of the Metabolic Studio in 2010: the artists’ collective examines the relationship between Los Angeles and Owens Valley as part of an ongoing process.

 

Daphné Nan Le Sergent

The film L’image extractive (The Extractive Image) intercuts macro photography of a silver surface with black-and-white landscape shots showing silver and gold mining in the Americas. This takes us on a journey to Mexico’s mining regions. The video essay weaves together fact and fiction. It tells the story of how photography was invented: the artist does not begin her account in 1839 but rather starts with the discovery and mining of silver in South America. The film tells of the legendary El Dorado and recounts an alternative story of the medium’s invention set in Brazil, where photographic pioneer Hercule Florence secretly discovered a gold-based process at the same time as French inventors Daguerre and Arago made their own discoveries. This is followed by images of die stamping, of silver’s stock price, and of miners. On the soundtrack, the artist speaks of the photographic industry’s late 19th-century boom, which she associates with the introduction of the gold standard around 1870 and the devaluation of silver. She recalls how the vertiginous rise in the price of silver led to the invention of digital photography in 1985. She also suggests a link between the P. G. Morgan company’s interests in silver speculation and its promotional work in the field of art photography. Her narrative arc ranges from the gold rush to data mining. She uses haunting music to underscore the repetitive loop of images showing gold and silver prospecting and the landscape being scoured in search of gold nuggets. The textual layer of the film uses a staccato verse sequence to tell a hypothetical and speculative story, drawing on a plethora of historical facts from Le Sergent’s artistic research.

Daphné Le Sergent (b. 1975 in Seoul) grew up in Paris. Her work deals with geopolitical issues and the way they inscribe themselves in the bodies of individuals.

Text from the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg

 

Unknown photographer. 'Silver bars in the Kodak vault' 1945

 

Unknown photographer
Silver bars in the Kodak vault
1945
Gelatine silver paper
Kodak Historical Collection #003, Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation, University of Rochester
Used with permission from Eastman Kodak Company

 

Optics Division of the Metabolic Studio (Lauren Bon, Tristan Duke und Richard Nielsen) 'Lake Bed Developing Process' 2013

 

Optics Division of the Metabolic Studio (Lauren Bon, Tristan Duke und Richard Nielsen)
Lake Bed Developing Process
2013
© Optics Division of the Metabolic Studio

 

 

On moonless nights on the Owens Valley dry lakebed, to the soundtrack of KPPG Live on the radio, Lauren Bon and Optics Division’s Rich Nielsen and Tristan Duke use the valley as their photographic darkroom. They take light-sensitive photographic paper and bury it for the night in the concentrated salt brine. The lakebed’s bio- and geo-chemistry works on the paper with unconventional developing and fixing properties, yielding unique renderings of and by the lakebed. These unique photographs are developed and fixed by the chemicals in the lakebed, creating warm, earthy, and metallic tones.

 

Optics Division of the Metabolic Studio (Lauren Bon, Tristan Duke und Richard Nielsen) 'Owens Lake Panorama 1' Nd

 

Optics Division of the Metabolic Studio (Lauren Bon, Tristan Duke und Richard Nielsen)
Owens Lake Panorama 1
Nd
Silver gelatin print processed in Owens Dry Lakebed
© Optics Division of the Metabolic Studio

 

Daphné Nan Le Sergent (South Korean, b. 1975) 'L'image extractive' (The extractive image) 2021 (film still)

 

Daphné Nan Le Sergent (South Korean, b. 1975)
L’image extractive (The extractive image) (film still)
2021
Video, b/w and colour, sound, 20′
© Daphné Nan Le Sergent

 

Simon Starling (English, b. 1967) 'The Nanjing Particles' 2008

 

Simon Starling (English, b. 1967)
The Nanjing Particles
2008
Forged stainless steel
200 x 420 x 150cm and 200 x 450 x 170cm
Courtesy of the artist and Casey Kaplan, New York

 

 

The Weight of the Cloud: Rare Earths, Metals, Energy, and Waste

Digital photography’s materiality is even less visible than its analog predecessor. In 2021, it was estimated that over ninety percent of all images were taken using phones, with more than a trillion images produced that year alone. Most digital images are archived digitally or shared using “social media” platforms, which have developed in parallel with the rise of smart phones and their cameras and are fuelled by their visual content. User data, stored on the so-called cloud, is “mined” by tech companies for targeted advertising. Yet it’s not only data that is mined. The cloud – though advertised as ephemeral and virtual – is heavy with metals and waste. Digital photography relies on a vast material network: from the mining of metals and rare earths used for electronic circuitry to elaborate supply chains operating on a global scale, data storage facilities with ever-growing carbon emissions, and, ultimately, vast amounts of electronic waste. Fifty-four million tons of e-waste were generated in 2019 alone, with Northern Europe being responsible for the highest per capita waste globally. Most of it is exported to lower-income countries, causing environmental damage and increasing health risks. A single smart phone can require up to 75 elements for its production (out of the 118 elements in the periodic table), many of which – such as gold, tin, cobalt, coltan, and tungsten – are considered “conflict minerals,” whose trade involves forced labour and finances armed militias. Even small quantities of metal necessitate large amounts of mining: it has been estimated that 34 kilograms of ore would have to be mined to produce the metals that make up a single 129-gram iPhone.

 

Lisa Rave

Structured like a nautilus shell, with layers of narrative gradually unfolding and echoing each other in the process, Lisa Rave’s Europium makes visible connections between Papua New Guinea’s colonial past and the planned excavation of the rare earth element Europium from the Bismarck Sea. Using a combination of historical found footage, interviews, and performative sequences, the essay film revolves around the rare earth Europium, whose fluorescent qualities are used to validate European banknotes and to ensure the brilliance of colours on flat-screen surfaces. Pointing to the human and ecological violence inherent in the extraction of so-called resources and their transformation into monetary value, Rave directs her anthropological gaze back toward our own society, exposing the ghosts of the past as they appear in the technologies and screens that surround us.

Lisa Rave (b. 1979, London) is a Berlin-based artist and filmmaker. Rave studied experimental film at the University of Arts Berlin and photography at Bard College, New York. In her work, Rave connects the histories of colonial domination with current forms of extraction and ecological violence.

 

Mary Mattingly

Combining chalk-drawn maps of global supply chains, satellite imagery, staged photographs of sculptural assemblages, and documentary images, Mary Mattingly’s series Cobalt – a selection of which is shown in the exhibition – is an attempt to comprehend a system of immense scale, scope, and complexity that remains hidden in plain sight. Over 60 percent of the world cobalt extraction, the “blood diamond of batteries,” takes place in the Democratic Republic of Congo in dangerously precarious conditions. The extracted metal, mined predominantly as a by-product of copper or nickel, is purchased by Chinese manufacturers, who process and then retail it to clients in the consumer market. Cobalt is then used in our phone’s sensor components and lithium-ion batteries of all kinds (from laptops to vacuum cleaners to electric cars). Capable of withstanding extreme heat, the mineral is also used in weapons and alloyed steel and has been classified as a “strategic mineral” by the US, in an attempt to encourage its local mining and production. In Mattingly’s work, we can see different stages in cobalt’s life cycle: mineral seepage visible in an exposed cliff face; a recently opened mine in Michigan, whose manmade structures protrude from the natural landscape; an ore transportation station. Weaving them all together is an elaborate map, tracing its supply chain across its different stages. Mattingly’s work seeks to address the ways in which we are inevitably entangled in the violent and extractive logic of neoliberalism and its ecological toll. Through her attentive mapping, we see how even forms of critical representation are dialectically bound to a mode of production wrought by ecological devastation and radical inequality. It is only by recognising these conditions, Mattingly suggests, that we can begin to work toward changing them.

Mary Mattingly (b. 1979, Connecticut) studied at Parsons School of Design, New York, and the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon. Mattingly creates photographs, sculptures, and large-scale public art projects that address climate change, thereby tracing connections between the social and economic forces behind the current political ecology impacting our environment.

 

Lisa Barnard

In the “The Fox and the Rooster” section of her extensive project The Canary and the Hammer, Lisa Barnard uses documentary photography to examine the economy of waste surrounding the precious metal gold. One of the most expensive materials on earth, gold is used in making our smartphones, cameras, and televisions, turning worn-out devices into a precious commodity. However, e-waste contains not only precious substances but also some that are extremely poisonous – metals such as lead, mercury, and cadmium, which are highly toxic for both humans and the environment. China, which is responsible for 10 million tons of toxic substances every year, is one of the world’s largest sources of e-waste as well as its biggest importer. In her research, the artist looks at China’s trade in illegal e-waste, in which gold is extracted from old devices using aqua regia, a highly explosive mixture of hydrochloric acid and nitric acid, whose name is derived from its ability to dissolve the precious metals gold and platinum. An illustration of this reaction can be found in alchemist Basilius Valentinus’s treatise “The Twelve Keys,” which was published in 1599. The work contains a woodcut showing a rooster (symbolising gold) eating a fox, which in turn is eating a rooster. The gold is dissolved not by the acid itself but rather by the products it creates when it reacts with the precious metal. Barnard’s choice of title thus makes reference to the potential dangers involved in recovering gold as well as to the mysterious aura that still surrounds it, even in the recycling loop that is a feature of the modern tech economy.

Lisa Barnard (b. 1967) studied photography at the University of Brighton and critical theory at the University of South Wales. Her documentary practice is concerned with current debates about materiality and global capitalism.

 

Mari Lebanidze, Cleo Miao, Leon Schweer, Marco Wesche with the mentoring of Prof. Christoph Knoth and Prof. Konrad Renner of the University of Fine Arts (HFBK) Hamburg – Digital Graphics class

Using the same sort of facial recognition technologies employed by tech companies to mine behavioural data for speculative value, Terraformed Self tracks exhibition visitors’ behaviour. Having identified people using their smartphone, the interactive installation informs visitors about their own contribution to the ecological footprint of digital image production using a playful game-like animation. How many selfies have been taken in front of this screen? How much carbon dioxide are they responsible for? What is the equivalent of a minute of scrolling on Instagram? While the work seems to invite visitors to take the obligatory exhibition selfie in front of the large, mirrored structure, it offers a sobering reflection on how our daily smartphone habits are implicated in a planetary system of resource extraction. The work is accompanied by an Instagram face filter – using the platform to reflect on its own footprint.

Digital Graphics class. Against the backdrop of omnipresent digital forms that mingle with artefacts from the past, the class, led by Prof. Christoph Knoth and Prof. Konrad Renner of the University of Fine Arts (HFBK) Hamburg, explores the integrity of modern technologies and conceives visual models in the context of culture and digital possibilities.

Text from the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Mining Photography. The Ecological Footprint of Image Production' at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg

 

Installation view of the exhibition Mining Photography. The Ecological Footprint of Image Production at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg showing the work of Mary Mattingly

 

Mary Mattingly (American, b. 1979) 'Eagle Mine' 2016

 

Mary Mattingly (American, b. 1979)
Eagle Mine
2016
© Mary Mattingly

 

Mary Mattingly (American, b. 1979) 'Ore Transport Station' 2016

 

Mary Mattingly (American, b. 1979)
Ore Transport Station
2016
© Mary Mattingly

 

Lisa Barnard (British, b. 1967) 'Broken mobile phone screen, Shenzhen, China' 2018

 

Lisa Barnard (British, b. 1967)
Broken mobile phone screen, Shenzhen, China
2018
© Lisa Barnard

 

 

Events in the history of capitalism, ecology, and photography

With excerpts from the time line compiled by Lukas Egger and Nils Güttler for the exhibition “Nach uns die Sintflut (After Us, the flood)” at Kunst Haus Wien

1492 Columbus arrives in the Americas, setting in motion a process described as the “Columbian exchange”: the movement of diseases, ideas, food, crops, and populations between the New World and the Old World brought about by European colonisation.

1556 Dere Metallica (On the Nature of Metals) by Georgius Agricola (Georg Bauer), is published. Illustrated with over 270 woodcuts, the treatise quickly became the authoritative text of its day on mining and helped popularise technical knowledge in the field.

1717 The German polymath Johann Heinrich Schulze (1687-1744) is the first to demonstrate the photosensitivity of silver salts.

1776 James Watt’s steam engine, originally invented and perfected to be used in mines, is introduced. Signalling the advent of the first industrial revolution, steam power allows for previously labour-intensive forms of production to become mechanised, especially in the textile industry. Coal is now an increasingly important energy source.

1800 While traveling in Venezuela, Alexander von Humboldt is one of the first scientists to describe the harmful effects of Human-induced climate change and its relation to colonialism, observing the adverse effects of the deforestation brought about by Europeans on the local soil quality and the moisture levels in the atmosphere.

1807 Claude and Nicéphore Niépce obtain a patent for the Pyréolophore (from Greek: pyr = fire, aeolos = the keeper of wind, and phore = carrier) one of the earliest internal combustion engines, fuelled by coal mixed with resin.

1827 Joseph Nicéphore Niépce produces the first Heliograph (Greek for “writing with sun”), by dissolving light-sensitive “bitumen of Judea,” a semi-solid form of petroleum, in oil of lavender, and applying a thin coating over a polished pewter plate.

1838 The first steam-powered crossing of the Atlantic ocean.

1839 Louis Daguerre presents the Daguerreotype before the French Académie des Sciences.

1840 William Henry Fox Talbot submits his first patent for an internal combustion engine titled “Obtaining Motive Power”. By 1852, he had registered four additional engine patents.

1844-1846 Wiliam Henry Fox Talbot publishes “The Pencil of Nature”, widely considered to be the first commercially published photo-illustrated book.

1846 Nitrocellulose (also known as “gun cotton”) is patented. It is used as an explosive in mines, as well as for the production of early – infamously flammable – cellulose film. It led to the invention of thermoplastic.

1851 A staggering 893,000 daguerreotype plates are produced in Paris alone in only one year. Converted to the standard portrait size of a quarter or eighth plates, 3-8 million portrait images could betaken.

1859 British glaciologist John Tyndall begins a series of laboratory experiments to demonstrate the significance of atmosphere gasses – including CO2 – for global warming.

1862 Writing for the US magazine Atlantic Monthly, Oliver Wendell Holmes estimates the annual consumption of precious metals for photography at ten tons of silver and half a ton of gold.

1870 Start of the Second Industrial Revolution, the electrification of production processes and of spheres of private life begins. Crude oil becomes increasingly important as a fuel for powering combustion engines.

1872 The correspondent of the English journal The Year-Book of Photography describes various methods of silver recovery from the developer fluids of photochemistry – for example, by reducing silver nitrate with the help of charcoal or by burning the papers and dissolving the ash with nitric acid and water.

1877 Founding of the Moorversuchsstation (Moor Experiment Station) in Bremen, the first NGO to campaign against moor burning. The first provisions pertaining to air pollution control are issued in a number of countries.

1888 The Eastman Kodak Company introduces the Kodak No.1 camera model, marking the beginning of the industrial processing of photographs in the laboratory. Advertised with the slogan “You press the button – we do the rest!,” the new camera and the company’s service relieved photographers of the chemical processing of their photos, introducing photography to a popular audience.

1901 The discovery of the Spindletop oilfield in Texas marks the dawn of the age of crude oil in the United States, which soon takes on a global dimension with the discovery of large oilfields in the Middle East and Venezuela.

1913 Henry Ford introduces a continual assembly line for the first time in automobile production, boosting productivity eightfold.

1945 The United States drops atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, heralding the beginning of the “nuclear age.” In the 1950s, the first commercially used nuclear power plants are introduced.

1947 Physicist Edwin Land introduces the firs tPolaroid camera in the USA.

1948 In their books Road to Survival and Our Plundered Planet, ornithologist William Vogt and palaeontologist Henry Fairfield Osborn warn of the devastating ecological consequences of global industrial capitalism.

1958 At the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, atmospheric scientist Charles David Keeling begins to take regular measurements of the CO2 concentrations in the Earth’s atmosphere. The data provides the basis for the Keeling Curve, which is now regarded as the measurement-based evidence of anthropogenic contribution to global warming.

1970 In the United States, some 20 million people take part in the first-ever “Earth Day”, an international day of environmental campaigning. The following year, the Greenpeace environmental organisation is founded in Vancouver.

1975 The first digital still camera is developed by Eastman Kodak’s engineer Steven Sasson.

1980 In what came to be known as “Silver Thursday,” silver prices reach an all-time high and immediately crash. Following a decade-long surge, which leads manufacturers to search for ways to reduce their dependency on the precious metal, a speculative frenzy sends the price up 713% within a year.

1992 The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development is held in Rio de Janeiro. Along with the 1972 Stockholm Conference, it is considered a milestone in the political implementation of global environmental and development efforts.

1993 The US office of industries lists photography as the principal application for silver in its yearly report, accounting for over 50 percent of U.S. silver fabrication demand that year.

1999 Toshiba launched the Camesse, the first cell phone with an integrated camera, which paved the way for much faster and broader communication based on pictures.

2000 Nobel laureate chemist Paul Crutzen and biologist Eugene F. Stoermer describe the effects of humans on the global environment as constituting a new human-dominated geological epoch: the Anthropocene. According to Crutzen and Stoermer, the Anthropocene started in the latter part of the eighteenth century, which marks the beginning of growing global concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere. As they write, this date also happens to coincide with the commercial introduction of James Watt’s steam engine in 1786.

2010 Instagram is launched.

2011 Economist David Ruccio first publishes the term Capitalocene, describing capitalism as the driving force behind climate change.

2013 For the first time, a majority of the digital images produced are taken on phones.

2017 According to a report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), 12.6 million people die each year worldwide as a result of industrial pollution. The worst affected regions are South-East Asia, the Western Pacific, and Africa.

2018 In Sweden, schoolgirl and environmental activist Greta Thunberg initiates the “Skolstrejk för klimatet”, which soon resonates world wide and leads to the global “Fridays for Future” movement.

2020 It is estimated that 1.4 trillion digital images have been taken during 2020 alone, over 90% of which are taken on phones.

2030 In order to limit global warming to 1.5°C – a target meant to stave off severe climate disruptions that could exacerbate hunger, conflict, and drought worldwide – global greenhouse gas emissions must peak before 2025, at the latest, and be reduced by 43 percent by 2030.

Text from the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg

 

 

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23
Oct
22

Exhibition: ‘Between skin & shirt: The photographic portraits of William Harding’ at the National Library of New Zealand Gallery, Wellington

Exhibition dates: 26th May – 29th October 2022

Curator: Fiona Oliver

 

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899) 'Businesses of Harding and Richardson, Ridgeway Street, Wanganui' c. 1870s

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899)
Businesses of Harding and Richardson, Ridgeway Street, Wanganui
c. 1870s
Wet collodion glass negative
6.5 x 8.5 inches
Negatives of Wanganui district
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

 

 

Buildings on Ridgeway Street, Wanganui, circa 1870s, including that of W J Harding, photographer, and Mrs Richardson, dressmaker.

William Harding’s studio, Ridgeway St, Whanganui, c. 1870s. He used this studio from 1860 until 1889, when he left for Sydney. His collection of 6,500 glass-plate negatives were nearly dumped by the studio’s new owner but were rescued by a relative of Harding’s and the Whanganui Museum. They were bought by the Turnbull Library in 1948.

 

 

Reclaiming the light

A fascinating posting on the portrait photographs of New Zealand photographer William Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899), which “provide a detailed picture of Whanganui society from the 1850s to the 1880s, and are a rich source of information relating to Māori and Pākehā individuals and their relationships at a formative time in this country’s history… He’d come to New Zealand from England as a coachbuilder in 1855, along with his wife Annie. He tried his hand at cabinet-making, and in 1860 set up a photographic studio in Ridgway St, Whanganui.”1

In the main the photographs are the usual Victorian colonial fare of formal studio portraits of white settlers (Master Percival Thomas Scott), the standing or sitting subjects posed with props on linoleum floors against rolls of plain paper or painted backgrounds staring straight into the camera lens or obliquely off into the distance. Harding’s portraits never flatter to deceive: “Harding’s sitters are also largely unsmiling. But their faces are alight, staring down the camera, eyes aflame. Sometimes they look peevish, bored or exhausted. There seems to be little inclination towards idealisation. Harding refused to retouch his photographs as other commercial photographers did. Faces are weathered and freckled; clothing is often ragged, mended or borrowed, illustrating the hardships of colonial life… The women, men, children, families and other groups who sat for him are shown with sensitivity and honesty.”2

Occasionally the framing is more interesting, as in the negative space which surrounds the profile portrait of [Miss] Scott (Between 1870-1889, below), the placement of the figure within the pictorial frame in Mrs Gillen (1870s, below), or the closeness to the subject so that the strong face fills the frame in Unidentified Maori man, with moko, Whanganui district (1860s, below). Group photographs are also taken outdoors against hanging rug or fabric backdrops which are pinned to the exterior of weatherboard houses, probably as Harding travelled around the district or was commissioned to take the family portrait. As with other colonial portrait photographs from around the world, treasured possessions such as photographs, sewing machines, clocks, birds, bibles, and books are placed on covered tables to signify their importance in the colonists lives. 

What is undeniable is the wonderful, casual yet almost crystalline presence that Harding’s sitters possess… no doubt due to his perception as a human being and a photographer, to his association with the community in which he lived, and to the clarity of the glass plate negatives that he produced. In this regard you only have to look at the portrait of Mr Plampin (17 August 1883, below) in all his Dickensian glory to understand what a great photographer William Harding was… in his ability to convey with perspicacity the personality of the sitter, that bright spark that was their life.

Through his portrait textures and tonalities there is a sense of the people who populate that place, but more than that, there is a sense of our own fragility and mortality. A feeling of anOther existence for our life if we had been born into such worlds. It is a little disappointing then that none of Harding’s many photographs of pairs of men are present in the exhibition, such as the photograph with the dog on the front of the book Mates and Lovers: A History of Gay New Zealand by Chris Brickell (2009), which is a Harding image (see photograph below).3 Hidden histories indeed!

As interesting, and just as problematic, are the portraits by a white photographer of the Māori and their artefacts, indigenous Polynesian people of mainland New Zealand (Aotearoa). First of all can I say that I am not an expert in the field of colonial photography of First Nations peoples including the photographs of the Māori of New Zealand. This is a complex and contested terrain requiring specialised knowledge of ancient histories, cultures and memories, where the reclaiming and becoming is being undertaken mostly by scholars and First Nations peoples and artists.

Having said that, what I can observe is that ALL photographic histories of colonised peoples – whether it be for example photographs of Indigenous Australians, indigenous people of the United States or African colonial photographs – are contested terrain which needs to be reclaimed by ancestors: from the posing of “conquered” people; to the gaze of a white male photographer; to the “impartial” gaze of the machine; to the possession of the body and artefacts of the possessed through the physicality of the photograph; to the scripting of a particular un/reality, a story photographers wanted to tell; to the scientific, anthropological measuring of physiognomies (anthropologists were interested in documenting hair styles and scarification marks, as well as tattoos, moko, and facial characteristics); to the representation of many cultural items and ancestors that have been stolen; to the photographs ability to “show us today some things that we may no longer have access to and give us a window into eyes of real human beings who were in the process of losing the lives they had known for centuries.”4 To name just a few terrains and identities that need to be reclaimed.

Very briefly, in the history of New Zealand (and the “new” in the title speaks for itself, despite the fact the Polynesian people of Aotearoa had been on the islands for centuries before the British), in 1841 “representatives of the United Kingdom and Māori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi, which in its English version declared British sovereignty over the islands. In 1841, New Zealand became a colony within the British Empire. Subsequently, a series of conflicts between the colonial government and Māori tribes resulted in the alienation and confiscation of large amounts of Māori land.”5

Although there was only “estimated a scant 1100 Europeans in the North Island in 1839, with 200 of them missionaries, and a total of about 500-600 Europeans in the Bay of Islands” compared with an estimated population of 30-40,000 Māori by 1870, with the arrival of new immigrants and the issue of land-ownership, Justice Minister Henry Sewell (in office 1870-1871) described the aims of the Native Land Court as “to bring the great bulk of the lands in the Northern Island […] within the reach of colonisation” and “the detribalisation of the Māori – to destroy, if it were possible, the principle of communism upon which their social system is based and which stands as a barrier in the way of all attempts to amalgamate the Māori race into our social and political system.” By the end of the 19th century these goals were largely met – to the detriment of Māori culture.”6

There are many complexities around colonial photography – on both sides of the lens – and the decolonisation of collections and museums / galleries in general is a difficult area. “The ‘archival turn’ of the 1990s has brought increased scrutiny to the practices of collecting, collating, and classifying photographs and artefacts – procedures that are now sites of contested histories.”7 Despite the repurposing of the colonial archive and the decolonisation of historical images, we must accept that the Māori people photographed in Harding’s portraits were subjected to the colonial gaze: “Originally photographed and collected to document a so-called primitive race or culture, or as part of tourism and government programmes of protection and assimilation, the colonial archives remained inaccessible to First Nations peoples until recent decades.”8  We must acknowledge the usual myths (for example, that authentic Māori culture was about to be or had been lost through Māori degeneration – the myth of the dying race) and stereotypes presented by colonials who “discovered, created, propagated and romanticised the Maori world at the turn of the century summed up in a popular nickname describing New Zealand; Maoriland [in which] the culture of Maoriland was a colonists creation…”9 but we must also acknowledge (as with Indigenous Australians10) the part Māori played in manipulating colonial myth-making for their own purposes, that “Māori were not merely passive victims: they too had a stake in this process of romanticisation…”11

But as Indigenous Australian artist Brook Andrew observes, “There is an urgent need for First Nations peoples to control their representation, both contemporary and historical, and for Indigenous knowledge to be recognised. For too long, negative or romantic representations of First Nations peoples have proliferated in primitivist discourse and museum displays to naturalise the colonial project and its aftermath…”12 According to a friend who works in a museum in New Zealand, “It would be fair to say that, despite us having the Treaty of Waitangi, there is still a lot of cultural trauma here. There are lots of attempts at redress, and strong work being done by contemporary Māori artists (including photographers) to reinterpret colonial views, give voice to the harm done, and find ways to move forward.”13

She continues, “Outside of the museum/gallery, in local marae (meeting houses), photographs of ancestors are a way to connect with them quite tangibly. This is positive. Most marae display photographic portraits illustrating the whakapapa (geneaology/lineage) of their iwi (tribe) and hapu (sub-tribe). Some have many photos hung along all the walls of the whare, and others are only brought out for tangihanga (funerals). Photographs are often removed from the wall and travel to other marae for big events. So on a vernacular as well as a ritual/spiritual level, they have an important and valued role invoking the presence of people now departed.”

There is never a definitive answer to these complex questions and the ground will forever remain contested terrain, full of the possibilities of re-territorialisation and remembering. But this visual language of race can be reinterpreted with respect, honour and grace, serving “as inspiration for artistic production in New Zealand that centres Indigenous frameworks, concepts, and worldviews” that prioritise storytelling and lived cultural practices which elaborate “the Māori values and principles that should underpin both academic and community research, particularly where photography is concerned.”14 Yes, simply yes!

The photographic portraits by Harding of Māori emphasise the fact that their story is not one of the distant past but is one of “a present-day reality populated by real people with mana, knowledge, history, integrity, and a legitimate grievance against the Crown’.15 “As Christopher Morton and Elizabeth Edwards have demonstrated, the medium [photography] is defined by its incessant ‘recodability’ and, while photographs have been valued for recording a past moment, photographic images also perform in the present, often in unexpected ways. When it comes to legacy images, I can examine the conditions around their making, but I can also consider their contemporary uses and meanings. This is a method of rewriting history to account for Indigenous loss and survival, and also to think through the absences in the photographic record.”16

“In Roland Barthes’s words, it is ‘that someone has seen the reference […] in flesh and blood‘. The relation between metal compounds and light in analogue photography means they are an ’emanation of the referent. From a real body, which was there, proceed radiations which ultimately touch me, who am here’. Ethnographic photographs can reveal trauma, when viewers connect with the bodily presence of those photographed, recognise a life that matters, and implicate themselves in the history of dispossession. However, the trauma includes the violent framing of First Nations peoples.”17

“In sum, for Aboriginal and Māori artists and communities, photographic archives offer a rich source of history, counter silence and exclusion, and provide a means to explore many issues that remain in the present. Archival images are tangible and powerful relics that provide a link with the past and bring it concretely into our time. This is the power of photographs: to address absence, to reconnect relatives with each other and to Country, and to heal. As Wiradjuri scholar Lawrence Bamblett argues, photographs link people in the present, as well as connecting them to places and the past; they ‘fit into the joyful scene of people telling stories’. The history of broken families and the dispossession and control of Aboriginal people remain contested, and often absent, from national stories and visual histories, but these silences are filled by the solidity and presence of photographs.”18

To me, the saddest photograph in the posting is that of an Unidentified young maori girl (Between 1856-1889, below) in which the unknown has a traditional hairstyle yet wears Western clothes (some Māori disdained to wear a Pākehā garment when being photographed) and has a crucifix around her neck. The pensiveness of the hands and the desolate look on her face says it all… they speak of sadness “not because of what she’s doing or where she is, but something ages ago, like there is a long, long deep sadness.”

And yet the strongest photographs of Māori women are two other portraits: in one, Unidentified young Maori woman with clear chin moko (1870-1889, below), the unknown wears Western dress but stares comfortably, defiantly at the camera displaying her clear chin moko (her heritage, her culture) with her hands relaxed on her lap, her presence undeniable / her undeniable ‘presence’; and in the other, Unidentified Māori woman (c.1880, below), the unknown also wears Western dress and stares determinedly at the camera (that stare reaching through the centuries), the white-tipped tail feather of the huia in her long natural hair (these feathers were prized above all others as head adornments, and signified chiefly status) – her ringed hand resting comfortably across her chest, the hand over the heart a gesture emblematic of honesty, she displays her tā moko tattoo, a unique expression of her cultural heritage and identity.

Present, alive, full of energy, an emanation of the referent, a real body, which was there, proceed radiations which ultimately touch me, who am here.

From past into present into future.
From past time into present time into future time.
From past (representation) into present (reclamation/reconfiguration) into future (change).

Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Footnotes

1/ Fiona Oliver. “Off the record | William Harding, ‘photographist’,” on the National Library website July 28th, 2022 [Online] Cited 23/08/2022

2/ Ibid.,

3/ For more photographs of men and pairs of men by William Harding please see Stephen O’Donnell. “Young gentlemen of Whanganui – photographs from the studio of William James Harding, New Zealand, circa 1856-1889,” on the Gods and Foolish Grandeur blog, Sunday, May 30, 2021 [Online] Cited 20/10/2022

4/ Email to the author, 1st June 2018 from Executive Director Shannon Keller O’Loughlin (Choctaw) of the Association on American Indian Affairs (AAIA)

5/ Anonymous. “New Zealand,” on the Wikipedia website [Online] Cited 18/10/2022

6/ Anonymous. “Māori culture,” on the Wikipedia website [Online] Cited 18/10/2022

7/ Elizabeth Edwards and Christopher Morton, ‘Introduction’, in Photography, Anthropology and History: Expanding the Frame, ed. Christopher Morton and Elizabeth Edwards, Farnham: Ashgate 2009, pp. 1-24 footnoted in Jane Lydon and Angela Wanhalla. ‘Editorial’, in History of Photography Volume 42, 2018 – Issue 3: Indigenous Photographies. Guest Editors: Jane Lydon and Angela Wanhalla, pp. 213-216

8/ Michael King. Māori: A Photographic and Social History. Wellington: Reed 1996, p. 2 quoted in Helen Brown (2018) “‘I Depend More on Photographs to Help Me Along’: The Ngāi Tahu Portraits in Lore and History of the South Island Maori,” in History of Photography, Volume 42, 2018 – Issue 3: Indigenous Photographies. Guest Editors: Jane Lydon and Angela Wanhalla, pp. 288-305

9/ See Roger Blackley. Galleries of Maoriland: Artists, Collectors and the Māori World, 1880-1910. Auckland University Press, 2018

10/ See Jane Lydon and her important books Eye Contact: Photographing Indigenous Australians (2005) and Photography, Humanitarianism, Empire (2016) where she unpacks the historical baggage of the colonial portrait photography of Indigenous Australians and notes that the photographs were not solely a tool of colonial exploitation. Lydon articulates an understanding in Eye Contact that the residents of Coranderrk, an Aboriginal settlement near Healsville, Melbourne, “had a sophisticated understanding of how they were portrayed, and they became adept at manipulating their representations.”

11/ Roger Blackley Op cit.,

12/ Brook Andrew & Jessica Neath (2018). “Encounters with Legacy Images: Decolonising and Re-imagining Photographic Evidence from the Colonial Archive,” in History of Photography, Volume 42, 2018 – Issue 3: Indigenous Photographies. Guest Editors: Jane Lydon and Angela Wanhalla, pp. 217-238

13/ “Artists draw upon the archive to retell or transform national histories that have omitted or denigrated Indigenous people.6 In addition, Indigenous photographers have provided a new perspective on past and present by revealing marginal experiences, asserting Indigenous capacity and addressing the losses and fractures of historical processes such as assimilation.”
Jane Lydon. ‘Transmuting Australian Aboriginal Photographs’, World Art, 6:1 (2016), pp. 45-60; and Ashley Rawling, ‘Brook Andrew: Archives of the Invisible’, Art Asia Pacific, 68 (May/June 2010), pp. 110-17, footnoted in Jane Lydon and Angela Wanhalla. ‘Editorial’, in History of Photography Volume 42, 2018 – Issue 3: Indigenous Photographies. Guest Editors: Jane Lydon and Angela Wanhalla, pp. 213-216

14/ Elizabeth Edwards and Christopher Morton, ‘Introduction’, in Photography, Anthropology and History: Expanding the Frame, ed. Christopher Morton and Elizabeth Edwards, Farnham: Ashgate 2009, pp. 1-24 footnoted in Jane Lydon and Angela Wanhalla. ‘Editorial’, in History of Photography Volume 42, 2018 – Issue 3: Indigenous Photographies. Guest Editors: Jane Lydon and Angela Wanhalla, pp. 213-216

15/ Ibid.,

16/ Brook Andrew & Jessica Neath (2018). “Encounters with Legacy Images: Decolonising and Re-imagining Photographic Evidence from the Colonial Archive,” in History of Photography, Volume 42, 2018 – Issue 3: Indigenous Photographies. Guest Editors: Jane Lydon and Angela Wanhalla, pp. 217-238

17/ Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography (1981), London: Vintage 2000, pp. 79-80 (original emphasis) quoted in Brook Andrew & Jessica Neath (2018). “Encounters with Legacy Images: Decolonising and Re-imagining Photographic Evidence from the Colonial Archive,” in History of Photography, Volume 42, 2018 – Issue 3: Indigenous Photographies. Guest Editors: Jane Lydon and Angela Wanhalla, pp. 217-238

18/ Elizabeth Edwards and Christopher Morton Op cit.,

.
Many thankx to the National Library for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Book cover of 'Mates and Lovers: A History of Gay New Zealand' by Chris Brickell

 

Book cover of Mates and Lovers: A History of Gay New Zealand by Chris Brickell which is a Harding image.

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899) 'Two unidentified men' c. 1888

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899)
Two unidentified men
c. 1888
Glass negative
Negatives of Wanganui district
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

 

Please note: photograph not in exhibition.

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Between skin & shirt: The photographic portraits of William Harding' at the National Library of New Zealand Gallery, Wellington

Installation view of the exhibition 'Between skin & shirt: The photographic portraits of William Harding' at the National Library of New Zealand Gallery, Wellington

Installation view of the exhibition 'Between skin & shirt: The photographic portraits of William Harding' at the National Library of New Zealand Gallery, Wellington

Installation view of the exhibition 'Between skin & shirt: The photographic portraits of William Harding' at the National Library of New Zealand Gallery, Wellington

 

Installation views of the exhibition Between skin & shirt: The photographic portraits of William Harding at the National Library of New Zealand Gallery, Wellington
Photographer: Mark Beatty for Alexander Turnbull Library Imaging Services

 

 

Looking at Harding’s portraits

French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson said that ‘The most difficult thing … is a portrait. You have to try and put your camera between the skin of a person and his shirt’. William Harding achieves just that. Harding diligently applied his art to reveal the person behind the formality of appearances. In the setting of his studio, his subjects are luminous.

The portraits in this exhibition have been selected from the nationally significant Harding collection of over 6,500 glass-plate negatives held by the Alexander Turnbull Library. The photographic portraits William Harding took in his Whanganui studio from the 1850s to the 1880s come to us with such startling immediacy that we find ourselves looking, it seems, at someone we might know.

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899) 'Reardon child' c. 1870s

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899)
Reardon child
c. 1870s
Glass negative
4.25 x 3.25 inches
Negatives of Wanganui district
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899) 'Master Percival Thomas Scott and his sister, of Feilding' April 1878

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899)
Master Percival Thomas Scott and his sister, of Feilding
April 1878
Glass negative
4.25 x 3.25 inches
Negatives of Wanganui district
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

 

 

Photograph taken by the studio of William James Harding, Whanganui. Accession register gives girl’s name as Elizabeth Jane or Annie Scott and her age as 6 years. Percival’s age is given as four years.

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Between skin & shirt: The photographic portraits of William Harding' at the National Library of New Zealand Gallery, Wellington

 

Installation view of the exhibition Between skin & shirt: The photographic portraits of William Harding at the National Library of New Zealand Gallery, Wellington showing at left, [Miss] Scott (Between 1870-1889, below); at second left, Woman on left wearing large crinoline dress with black jacket with tassels and belt above the waist, woman on the right wearing crinoline dress with tassels on top part of dress (Between 1870-1880, below); at centre, Lieutenant Herman with his ventriloquist dummy (c. 1877, below); and at second right, Members of the Burne family (Between 1856-1889, below)
Photographer: Mark Beatty for Alexander Turnbull Library Imaging Services

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899) 'Lieutenant Herman with his ventriloquist dummy' c. 1877

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899)
Lieutenant Herman with his ventriloquist dummy
c. 1877
Wet collodion glass negative
Negatives of Wanganui district
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

 

 

Lieutenant Herman (b. 1855), whose real name was Thomas Martin Powell, advertised his performances in New Zealand newspapers from 1877-1882, touring here and in Australia alongside William H. Thompson’s American and Zulu war dioramas. He poses in this portrait with his dummy, but also exercised his powers of ventriloquism through the character of a sock with a face drawn on it.

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899) 'Unidentified Māori woman' c. 1880

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899)
Unidentified Māori woman
c. 1880
Glass negative
Negatives of Wanganui district
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

 

 

Half length portrait of an unidentified Maori woman wearing European clothing and holding her hand to her chest. She wears a white tipped feather in her hair, ear adornments, a tiki around her neck, and a ring on one of her fingers. She has a facial moko.

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899) 'Unidentified woman' 1870-1899

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899)
Unidentified woman
Between 1870-1899
Glass negative
4.25 x 3.25 inches
Negatives of Wanganui district
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

 

 

Many of Harding’s portraits show a directness not associated with Victorian period. Many of his sitters, like this one, show weathered and freckled skin, illustrating the hardships of colonial life.

 

 

William Harding: An unconventional eye

Fiona Oliver, Curator of the Between Skin & Shirt exhibition, writes about William Harding and his photographic practice including thoughts on why there was no smiling in formal Victorian portraiture. …

 

First photographs

The first photographic studios opened in New Zealand in 1848 – J. Polack and J. Newman in Auckland, and H.B. Sealy in Wellington, making daguerreotypes. The collodion wet-plate process was invented in England in 1851 and just five years later, in Whanganui, William Harding set up his studio producing these glass-plate negatives.

An early adopter, he was also a real craftsman; having previously worked as a coach builder and cabinetmaker, he now turned his hand to making his own cameras and grinding his own lenses. His portraits were commissioned and many were intended for cartes de visite (calling cards), which had become popular. The emulsified and peeling edges seen in the Harding negatives would have been cropped out of the finished photograph.

 

Say ‘prunes’!

Most of Harding’s sitters would never have been photographed before, and having their portrait taken was an act of faith. They hoped to be shown in their best light, for they knew the image would be permanent. Convention dictated what facial expressions were acceptable. Despite not smiling, Harding’s subjects are full of expression.

Smiling was not usually done in formal Victorian portraiture, including Harding’s. Some argue it was because of the state of everyone’s teeth, but the convention came from painting, where only fools and drunks were shown to be grinning. It was Mark Twain who wrote: ‘A photograph is a most important document, and there is nothing more damning to down in posterity than a silly, foolish smile caught and fixed forever’. So instead of saying ‘cheese’, sitters were encouraged to say ‘prunes’, to create the effect of a small, perfect, mouth.

Harding’s sitters are also largely unsmiling. But their faces are alight, staring down the camera, eyes aflame. Sometimes they look peevish, bored or exhausted. There seems to be little inclination towards idealisation. Harding refused to retouch his photographs as other commercial photographers did. Faces are weathered and freckled; clothing is often ragged, mended or borrowed. Wealthier clients look more poised, but even they have been captured in a moment where the mask of formality seems to have slipped. Harding seems to get beyond the rigidity of convention, his faces coming to us with honesty and startling immediacy.

 

Strike a pose

In Victorian photography, a sitter was usually arranged to highlight their best features and disguise any aspect that might be considered, by the standards of the time, unsightly. Harding didn’t seem to go in for that. There is little idealisation or subterfuge: a crippled child is shown wearing her callipers; a Down’s syndrome child is held on her mother’s lap; a man with a sheen of sweat lies on his deathbed. …

 

Props

Most props were supplied by the studio, but some sitters brought their own. Such props were used to convey something about the sitter. Some were common conventions; for example, a book held in the hand indicated literacy at a time when not everyone could read. Posing with a small framed photographic portrait indicated a need to remember someone who was otherwise absent. Children often posed with a favourite toy, and men with an object that represented the job they did and their status in society.

This unidentified Māori woman, c. 1870-1889, poses with a vignette of personal, not studio props, including a faux Greek vase, a book, a cameo brooch, a hat with an ostrich feather, and a box. She makes her wedding ring evident to indicate her married status.

In many of Harding’s portraits, we see the same props turn up over and over again, including a rocking horse, a statuette of a child, a stereoscope, a vase, and a side table with barley-twist legs. Men hold flowers – why would this be? Soldiers hold their rifles, or, if they played in a military band, their musical instruments. Perhaps needing something to do with an awkward pair of hands, some hold a hat, bag or clutch at a piece of furniture. The same oversized and overstuffed chaise longue is leaned, climbed or sat on by many of Harding’s subjects.

 

Painted backdrops

As well as pieces of furniture, the studio offered a selection of painted backdrops in front of which sitters were arranged. In Harding’s studio they depicted, for example, a scene through a window of a church steeple set in bucolic abundance, the interior of a stately home, and an archway beyond which lies Roman columns and trees. These came with the addition of artificial plants, a balustrade, plinths, patterned flooring and heavy drapes.

This might all sound opulent – but there is a shabby look to much of it. In some cases the painted backdrops are on a slight lean, or are crumpled. And because these are uncropped images, we see unused props and other studio paraphernalia cluttered at the edges. The artifice is fascinating, perhaps because it is in such contrast to the authenticity with which Harding depicts his subjects.

Fiona Oliver

Fiona is an Exhibition Advisor at the National Library. She was formerly the Curator of New Zealand and Pacific Publications at the Alexander Turnbull Library.

Fiona Oliver. “William Harding: An unconventional eye,” on the National Library website August 17th, 2022 [Online] Cited 23/08/2022

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899) 'Unidentified young man (Mr Aubert?) in military uniform, with cap' 1870-1899

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899)
Unidentified young man (Mr Aubert?) in military uniform, with cap
Between 1870-1899
Glass negative
4.25 x 3.25 inches
Negatives of Wanganui district
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899) 'Mr G Willis' April 1884

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899)
Mr G Willis
April 1884
Glass negative
4.25 x 3.25 inches
Negatives of Wanganui district
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899) 'Mr Plampin' 17 August 1883

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899)
Mr Plampin
17 August 1883
Glass negative
4.25 x 3.25 inches
Negatives of Wanganui district
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899) 'Reverend Richard Taylor's chair, with other Maori artifacts' Between 1856-1899

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899)
Reverend Richard Taylor’s chair, with other Māori artefacts
Between 1856-1899
Glass negative
4.25 x 3.25 inches
Negatives of Wanganui district
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

 

 

Reverend Richard Taylor’s chair, with other Maori artefacts. Shows a wooden chair carved with Māori motifs. Three staffs are behind it. On the left is a tewhatewha, and on the right, a taiaha. A patu is balanced on the central back panel. On the seat are two waka huia. A gourd is on the floor. Photograph taken between 1856-1889, by William James Harding.

“Curios might be excavated, purchased, even stolen from burial caves, but the usual way in which they moved from Māori to Pākehā hands was through gifting. Gifts forced the basis of the outstanding collections, including those accumulate by Grey and Mair, but this was also how innumerable farmers, lawyers, churchmen and politicians obtained their Māori treasures. In the Māori world, such gifting embodied reciprocal debt and important taonga were expected to be returned at auspicious occasions or in turn gifted on to further recipients, together with their kõrero (provenance). Having arrived in Pākehā ownership, however, tango became commodities – objects with market value – and only rarely returned to the original givers.”

Roger Blackley. ‘Introduction’ in Galleries of Maoriland: Artists, Collectors and the Māori World, 1880-1910. Auckland University Press, 2018

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899) 'Fraser' [Consump?] Between 1856-1899

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899)
Fraser [Consump?]
Between 1856-1899
Glass negative
4.25 x 3.25 inches
Negatives of Wanganui district
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899) 'Unidentified Maori man, with moko, Whanganui district' 1860s

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899)
Unidentified Maori man, with moko, Whanganui district
1860s
Glass negative
6.5 x 8.5 inches
Negatives of Wanganui district
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899) 'Unidentified man, sick in bed' 1870-1889

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899)
Unidentified man, sick in bed
1870-1889
Glass negative
4.25 x 3.25 inches
Negatives of Wanganui district
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

 

 

Off the record | William Harding, ‘photographist’

For the first time, the photographs of William Harding (1826-1899) are featured in a major exhibition Between skin & shirt: The photographic portraits of William Harding.

 

Importance of William Harding photographs

The collection of William Harding’s glass-plate negatives – over 6,500 in total – is undoubtedly of national importance. His portraits provide a detailed picture of Whanganui society from the 1850s to the 1880s, and are a rich source of information relating to Māori and Pākehā individuals and their relationships at a formative time in this country’s history. But what really makes the photographs special is not their broader significance, nor their number, but the minutiae of detail evident in each one of them. Every image depicts its subjects with such depth and nuance that we find ourselves looking, it seems, at people we might know.

 

Portraits immediate and relatable

The faces are immediate and relatable, despite having been photographed over 140 years ago. How did Harding achieve this striking effect? Firstly, the glass plates he used produce a sharper, more stable and detailed negative than paper. In addition, Harding’s work was what his daughter Lydia described as unerringly ‘faithful’. That is to say, he was interested most of all in authenticity.

Unlike other commercial photographers, Harding embellished his studio with only a small repertoire of props and backdrops, and wouldn’t retouch his photographs to flatter his sitters. But in the shabby setting of his studio, his subjects are luminous. The women, men, children, families and other groups who sat for him are shown with sensitivity and honesty. We are drawn to the contemporaneity of their faces and in this way we make a connection with the person.

 

William Harding ‘photographist’

Harding’s methods may have been unconventional because he refused to compromise his art to make money. He’d come to New Zealand from England as a coachbuilder in 1855, along with his wife Annie. He tried his hand at cabinet-making, and in 1860 set up a photographic studio in Ridgway St, Whanganui. Clever at whatever he turned his hand to – an autodidact with a prodigious memory, he could quote the Bible at will, build telescopes and make his own cameras – his lack of financial motivation meant that the family relied on Annie’s earnings as a teacher to get by. Unlike the landscapes he much preferred to photograph, portraits at least provided some regular income – and we can be thankful they did, or he would not have produced so many.

 

Up close to a diverse cast of characters

This exhibition of Harding’s portraits, reproduced at much larger scale from the original negatives, gives us chance to get close to a diverse cast of characters. Sometimes it seems that those characters are watching us. In the mutual exchange, time and space appear to dissolve. As photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson has said: ‘The most difficult thing … is a portrait. You have to try and put your camera between the skin of a person and his shirt’ – Harding achieves just that.

Fiona Oliver. “Off the record | William Harding, ‘photographist’,” on the National Library website July 28th, 2022 [Online] Cited 23/08/2022

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899) 'Unidentified woman' Between 1856-1889

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899)
Unidentified woman
Between 1856-1889
Glass negative
4.25 x 3.25 inches
Negatives of Wanganui district
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899) '[Mrs?] Keen' Between 1870-1889

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899)
[Mrs?] Keen
Between 1870-1889
Glass negative
4.25 x 3.25 inches
Negatives of Wanganui district
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899) 'Unidentified young maori girl' Between 1856-1889

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899)
Unidentified young maori girl
Between 1856-1889
Glass negative
4.25 x 3.25 inches
Negatives of Wanganui district
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899) 'Mrs Gillen' 1870s

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899)
Mrs Gillen
1870s
Glass negative
4.25 x 3.25 inches
Negatives of Wanganui district
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899) '[Miss] Scott' Between 1870-1889

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899)
[Miss] Scott
Between 1870-1889
Glass negative
4.25 x 3.25 inches
Negatives of Wanganui district
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899) 'Unidentified young Maori woman with clear chin moko' 1870-1889

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899)
Unidentified young Maori woman with clear chin moko
1870-1889
Glass negative
4.25 x 3.25 inches
Negatives of Wanganui district
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899) 'Woman on left wearing large crinoline dress with black jacket with tassels and belt above the waist, woman on the right wearing crinoline dress with tassels on top part of dress' Between 1870-1880

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899)
Woman on left wearing large crinoline dress with black jacket with tassels and belt above the waist, woman on the right wearing crinoline dress with tassels on top part of dress
Between 1870-1880
Glass negative
4.25 x 3.25 inches
Negatives of Wanganui district
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899) 'Unidentified family group' 1870-1889

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899)
Unidentified family group
1870-1889
Glass negative
4.25 x 3.25 inches
Negatives of Wanganui district
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899) 'Members of the Burne family' Between 1856-1889

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899)
Members of the Burne family
Between 1856-1889
Glass negative
4.25 x 3.25 inches
Negatives of Wanganui district
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899) 'Captain Nathaniel Flowers and wife Margaret, with a dog' 1878

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899)
Captain Nathaniel Flowers and wife Margaret, with a dog
1878
Glass negative
4.25 x 3.25 inches
Negatives of Wanganui district
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

 

 

Nathaniel Flowers, a British Army soldier, and Margaret Murch, married on St Helena during his posting there in the 1840s. Margaret was likely a freed slave living on the island. In the 1850s, Nathaniel was sent to New Zealand with his wife and son, eventually leaving the army and settling in Whanganui, where he worked as a labourer and harbour-board signalman – the spyglass he’s holding would have been used to look for ships coming over the horizon, before signalling to them whether it was safe to enter port. The couple’s relationship hit rough seas in the years after this photograph was taken. In 1891 Margaret was arrested for being drunk and disorderly, and later that year Nathaniel applied for an order to prohibit her from buying alcohol before being charged himself with not providing for his wife.

Exhibition label

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899) 'Unidentified Maori man and his son' 1870-1889

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899)
Unidentified Maori man and his son
1870-1889
Glass negative
4.25 x 3.25 inches
Negatives of Wanganui district
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899) 'Unidentified Wanganui family and their possessions' c. 1870s

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899)
Unidentified Wanganui family and their possessions
c. 1870s
Glass negative
4.25 x 3.25 inches
Negatives of Wanganui district
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899) 'Unidentified men and women' Between 1856-1889

 

William James Harding (New Zealand, 1826-1899)
Unidentified men and women
Between 1856-1889
Glass negative
4.25 x 3.25 inches
Negatives of Wanganui district
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

 

 

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19
Oct
22

Exhibition: ‘Frank Horvat. 50-65’ at Jeu de Paume, Château de Tours

Exhibition dates: 17th June – 30th October 2022

Curator: Virginia Chardin

 

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020) 'Muslim wedding, fiancé discovering his fiancée's face in a mirror, Pakistan' 1952

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020)
Muslim wedding, fiancé discovering his fiancée’s face in a mirror, Pakistan
1952
Modern silver print
© Studio Frank Horvat, Boulogne-Billancourt

 

 

Another male photographer, this time one who underlines the commonalities between his work as a photoreporter and his work for fashion. But other than a few transcendent images (the Givenchy Hat duo in particular) I find his work to be very stylised, of the 1950s era, and not particularly memorable.

Can you imagine the artist Susan Meiselas in her work Carnival Strippers (1972-1975) taking an image of a naked female and then naming the work for themselves, “self-portrait”, Self-portrait with stripper, The Sphinx, Paris (1956, below) even as the photographer is obscured with the camera machine up to his face recording with the male gaze and the gaze of the camera the body of a anonymous woman? Just a stripper?

I know Meiselas’ work is from a later generation when feminism was rising but the objectification of the female body in Horvat’s work is unsavoury, even as the press release says he ensured the “complicit, amused and moving participation of the young women.” (To be complicit means to be involved with others in an activity that is unlawful or morally wrong)

From the look on the woman’s face, I don’t think so…

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to the Jeu de Paume for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

“Thus, putting aside the notions of truth or deception in the representation of women, and in leaning instead on this concept that Griselda Pollock called the woman-as-image, it becomes possible to analyze the mechanisms of fetishism, voyeurism and objectification who form and inform the representation of women.”

.
Abigail Solomon-Godeau, “Representing Women: The Politics of representation of the self,” in Chair à canons. Photography, discourse, feminism, Paris, Textual, coll. “Photographic writing,” 2016, p. 234.

 

 

The Jeu de Paume pays tribute to the photographer Frank Horvat, who died on October 21, 2020 at the age of ninety-two, with an exhibition presented at the Château de Tours from June 17 to October 30, 2022. Accompanied by a monograph, it brings a renewed vision of the fiery activity of the photographer during his first fifteen years of career, from 1950 to 1965, a period during which he affirmed an extraordinary personality as author-reporter and fashion photographer.

Made from the archives kept by the author in his home-studio in Boulogne-Billancourt, the exhibition is based on period documents: vintage, publications, writings, in order to follow and explain the photographer’s approach, in the context of the evolution of the illustrated press at the time. He strives to discern the deep driving forces of the work and to bring out its strength and points of tension. He underlines the commonalities between his work as a photoreporter and his work for fashion. Fascination with beauty, the motif of the viewer-voyeur, attention to physical or amorous disorder, are some of the recurring themes of Frank Horvat, who appears above all as a photographer of the body and the intimate. It also reveals the melancholy facet of an independent and sometimes solitary author, living as an outsider despite his success as a fashion photographer.

 

 

 

The Jeu de Paume pays tribute to the photographer Frank Horvat, who died on October 21, 2020 at the age of ninety-two, with an exhibition presented at the Château de Tours from June 17 to October 30, 2022. Accompanied by a monograph, it brings a renewed vision of the fiery activity of the photographer during his first fifteen years of career, from 1950 to 1965, a period during which he asserted an extraordinary personality as author-reporter and fashion photographer.

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020) 'Howrah Bridge, Kolkata, India' 1953-1954

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020)
Howrah Bridge, Kolkata, India
1953-1954
vintage contact sheet

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020) 'Boxing fight between children, Cockney Borough of Lambeth, London, England' 1955

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020)
Boxing fight between children, Cockney Borough of Lambeth, London, England
1955
Modern silver print
© Studio Frank Horvat, Boulogne-Billancourt

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020) 'Prostitutes in the Bois de Boulogne, Paris' 1955

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020)
Prostitutes in the Bois de Boulogne, Paris
1955
Modern silver print
© Studio Frank Horvat, Boulogne-Billancourt

 

 

1/ The beginnings of a photo-reporter 1928-1954

Francesco Horvat was born on April 28, 1928 in Abbazia, Italy (today Opatija in Croatia). Around 1951, he decided to become photo-reporter, meets Henri Cartier-Bresson, buys a Leica then embarks on a trip to Pakistan and India from 1952 to 1954. His subjects earned him publications in the international press and one of his images is selected for the exhibition “The Family of Man”, presented at Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York in 1955.

 

2/ London and Realities 1954-1959

In 1954, he moved to London for a few months, where the English inspire him with humorous images, even frankly ironic. Initiating new formal experiences,he crops his images for close-up effects, hardens his prints by accentuating the grain of the image and works his layouts. Settled in Paris at the end of 1955, Francesco, who now signs Frank Horvat, establishes ongoing relationships with the French monthly Réalités, for which he produced a report on pimping, then in 1959 social subjects on the Parisian suburbs, London or the Borinage.

 

3/ Telephoto Paris 1956

His wanderings in Paris led Frank Horvat to acquire a telephoto lens that he tests on the urban landscape. Intrigued by the effects he obtained from it, he experimented with high views, overlooking monuments and crossroads where crowds and vehicles intermingle. He is interested in graphic games drawn by the signs, the urban furniture, the roofs and the ubiquitous typography of the town. These images earned him significant recognition by international photography journals.

 

4/ Shows and spectators 1956-1958

In 1956, the author manages to get behind the scenes the Sphinx striptease cabaret, place Pigalle, and ensures the complicit, amused and moving participation of the young women. This series earned him orders from Jours de France for an “Evenings in Paris” section. The book I like striptease, published in 1962 by Rencontre à Lausanne with an amazing layout by the graphic designer Jacques Plancherel, initiator of the magazine Die Woche, brings together images from these series.

 

5/ Fashion on the street 1957-1961

In 1957, William Klein introduced Frank Horvat to Jacques Moutin, the artistic director of the magazine Jardin desModes, who offers to transpose the style of his views Parisians in fashion images. Taken with a Leica, without artificial light, the freshness of his images is a sensation, and other magazines appeal to him for his free and natural way to pose his models. He becomes the representative of a “reportage style” in fashion.

 

6/ Successful fashion photographer and muses 1960-1964

This room brings together some of the iconic images and sophisticated shots made by the photographer for British Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. Most models represented are exceptional women who have experienced an unusual fate. Maggi Eckardt, Judy Dent, Simone d’Aillencourt, Benedetta Barzini, Deborah Dixon, Carol Lobravico, Vera Valdez, Iris Bianchi or China Machado are the heroines of this room. So many portraits of women only fashion images, these photographs demonstrate a collaborative complicity between the photographer and his models.

 

7/ A photographer’s world tour 1962-1963

In 1962, the German magazine Revue asked Frank Horvat to produce a report on large non-European cities. Staring games between men and women, fleeting intimacy between watched and watchers, the melancholy and solitude of bodies make this photographic essay one of the most personal of Frank Horvat. The gist of this report having never been published, the vintage prints presented in this room are therefore largely unpublished. Over there following years, Frank Horvat will hardly carry out any more reporting, apart from a few colour subjects for Réalités. This series thus ends his career as a photo-reporter for the press.

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020) 'Telephoto Paris, Strasbourg-Saint-Denis metro station, Paris' 1956

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020)
Telephoto Paris, Strasbourg-Saint-Denis metro station, Paris
1956
Vintage silver print
© Studio Frank Horvat, Boulogne-Billancourt

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020) 'Telephoto Paris, traffic in front of Saint-Lazare station, Paris' 1956

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020)
Telephoto Paris, traffic in front of Saint-Lazare station, Paris
1956
Vintage silver print
© Studio Frank Horvat, Boulogne-Billancourt

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020) 'Telephoto Paris, bus, Paris' 1956

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020)
Telephoto Paris, bus, Paris
1956
Modern silver print
© Studio Frank Horvat, Boulogne-Billancourt

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020) 'Telephoto Paris, Christmas at Galeries Lafayette' 1956

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020)
Telephoto Paris, Christmas at Galeries Lafayette
1956
Modern silver print
© Studio Frank Horvat, Boulogne-Billancourt

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020) 'Telephoto Paris, Christmas at Galeries Lafayette' 1956

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020)
Telephoto Paris, Christmas at Galeries Lafayette
1956
Modern silver print
© Studio Frank Horvat, Boulogne-Billancourt

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020) 'The Sphinx, Paris' 1956

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020)
The Sphinx, Paris
1956
Gelatin silver print
© Studio Frank Horvat, Boulogne-Billancourt

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020) 'Self-portrait with stripper, The Sphinx, Paris' 1956

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020)
Self-portrait with stripper, The Sphinx, Paris
1956
Gelatin silver print
© Studio Frank Horvat, Boulogne-Billancourt

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020) 'The Lido, Paris' 1956

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020)
The Lido, Paris
1956
Gelatin silver print
© Studio Frank Horvat, Boulogne-Billancourt

 

 

“If Horvat is a part, along with a few others, of a generation that has indeed renewed photography of fashion by desecrating the mannequin and mixing systematically life to artifice, he no doubt owes it to his training and his work as a photojournalist. This exhibition and this book, with largely unpublished content, focusing for the first time on its first fifteen years as a professional photographer who saw him go from fashionable reportage, precisely intend to reconcile the two sides of his work. On the one hand, his first works for the post-war European and then American press, in the lineage of its elders, Cartier-Bresson at the head, a time of trips that he himself called “the happiest period of his life”; on the other hand, fashion works and the intrusion of colour, which sometimes left him dissatisfied. However, in one case as in the other, the same attention, made of restraint, of empathy and a certain disenchanted sweetness, is brought to the world and, more particularly, to women and relations between the sexes, which are constants in his work – to which we will add, for fashion, a good dose of distance and humour.”

Quentin Bajac, “Foreword,” in Frank Horvat 50-65, Paris, Jeu de Paume / La Martiniere, 2022, p. 3.

 

The Jeu de Paume and the Château de Tours pay tribute to Frank Horvat who died on October 21, 2020. The exhibition focuses over his first fifteen years of work, during which he affirms an extraordinary personality of author-reporter and of a fashion photographer. Born in Italy in 1928, he started 1951 in Milan a career as a photojournalist which he pursues in Pakistan, India and England in the following years. His first images earned him numerous publications in the international press as well as participation in the famous “The Family of Man” exhibition presented at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York in 1955.

Settled in Paris in 1955, he was quickly noticed by his telephoto photographs and his subjects on the Paris by night. Managing to capture close-up scenes of a rare intensity, he reveals himself as a photographer of the body and the intimate. This fascination will be found later in his images of fashion for Jardin des Modes, British Vogue or Harper’s Bazaar and in the hallucinatory vibrations of a world tour which he performed in 1962-1963, remained largely unknown. Game of glances, night shows, fragility of masks, complicity with the models, melancholy of the bodies and scintillation love troubles draw an introspective cartography of this photographer moved throughout his life by a inexhaustible quest for new experience.

Produced from the archives left by Horvat in his house-workshop in Boulogne-Billancourt, the exhibition includes over 170 vintage and modern prints. Accompanied publications and original documents, it provides a new light on the work of this major player in French and European photography and present, alongside emblematic images, sets of photographs less known or new. Are thus revealed the wealth and the singularity of a complex and multifaceted work, replaced in the context of the history of photography and the press illustrated post-war.

Exhibition curator: Virginia Chardin

 

“Photography, for me, was photo-reportage. My photos had to tell stories, like those that the editors of the Berliner Illustrierte, refugees in New York during the war, had taught editors to tell of Life, and that now all the magazines were trying to imitate. With a beginning, a middle, an end and a legend under each photo, so that readers still unaccustomed to this visual language can represent the world, whether magazines are sold and that their collaborators are adequately remunerated.”

Frank Horvat, “Autobiography,” undated manuscript, Boulogne-Billancourt, Studio Frank Horvat archives.

 

“When I first set foot there, Paris was for me the capital of the world. From fashion of course, but also those of painting, letters, shows and especially – from my perspective – photojournalism, because it was Magnum headquarters. I remember this month of July 1951 as of a triumphal progression: I attended the first Givenchy collection, at Fath’s ball (Dior’s rival), I was received in the editorial offices of Paris-Match and Réalités (which even kept some of my photos), I made the portrait of Maxime de la Falaise, muse of the Parisian intelligentsia, in her boudoir Île Saint-Louis. I told myself that this escalation could only end up at the office on Place Saint-Philippe du Roule, where Cartier-Bresson, every Wednesday at 10 a.m., received young photographers, and where he would certainly have invited me to join his pleiad.

It was a cold shower. “Do you work in 6 × 6? The good God didn’t put your eyes on your stomach! And use flash? This is an arbitrary intervention! And in colour? I would do, if I could have my own palette, but I will never use the Kodak one!” He turned over the pile of my prints, the top of the photos down, so that the expressions of the faces do not distract him from the analysis of the compositions, examined them one after the other, pointed out their faults and concludes: “You have understood nothing. Go to the Louvre and study the compositions of Poussin”.”

Frank Horvat, “Autobiography,” undated manuscript, Boulogne-Billancourt, Studio Frank Horvat archives.

 

“Following the advice of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Franco Horvat bought a Leica in Munich. He embarked in Trieste on a freighter bound for Karachi in the spring of 1952. This trip to Pakistan, which he will extend to India for two years following, allows him for the first time to give free rein to his imagination by looking for subjects to propose.

Most newspapers and agencies ask photographers to bring them complete reports, that is to say, successions of captioned images telling a story likely to be published on several pages. “The mould of the picture story imposed itself on all those who wanted to work for magazines, they could take advantage of it, a bit like the great filmmakers of Hollywood took advantage of box office constraints, or the Great Century playwrights of the rule of three units”. In Lahore, his intuition or his personal attractions lead him to the “red light district” of Hira Mandi (“market with diamonds”, in Urdu), place of prostitution but also of a annual party where exceptionally unveiled young girls and adorned dance and are exposed to the gaze of men, the latter obtaining at auction the right to converse with the families for a meeting or a marriage – a custom century against which the government is trying to fight. He also photographs opium and hashish smokers, a particular Muslim religious ceremony spectacular, and a wedding during which the fiancé discovers in a mirror the face of his bride. Formally, his images do not deviate from the framework imposed by the codes of the photojournalism of the time, but the choice of subjects reveals a intense fascination for the body and the intimate. The observed woman by men, the viewers themselves captured in their bewilderment, the play of looks between the two are motives that we will find in all of Horvat’s work. […]

Initially, Réalités commissioned a subject from him which going to fascinate him, on pimping in Paris. Remote or hidden behind the wheel of his car, he explores by night or day the streets and cafés of Pigalle, rue Saint-Denis, as well as the alleys of the Bois de Boulogne, in a sort of long tracking shot which is reminiscent of the world of cinema or the novel policeman. The magazine announces on the cover: “A document exceptional. Réalités denounces one of the biggest scandals in our time”. Frank Horvat’s archives keep period prints that he had made by Georges Fèvre, one of of the main printers of the Pictorial Service laboratory (Picto) created by Pierre Gassmann. The latter then has the exclusive Magnum prints and gathers around him many French and international authors. This report, which Anne by Mondenard and Michel Guerrin, authors of a book on this magazine, consider it “one of the most strong of Realities” testifying to the “tragic realism of Horvat”, is amazing. The theme of voyeurism captivates the photographer whom he follows for several weeks the thread of Paris by night: the Folies-Bergère, a premiere of the Lido to which assist Charlie Chaplin, Brigitte Bardot and Jean Cocteau, fairground booths for light shows, several boxes of striptease. In a masterful series on the Sphinx at Pigalle, the photographer manages to ensure, behind the scenes, the participation accomplice and moving strippers while leaving to their pathetic loneliness the spectators-voyeurs.”

Virginie Chardin, “Frank Horvat, the inner journey,” in Frank Horvat 50-65, Paris, Jeu de Paume / La Martinière, 2022, p. 13 and 17.

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020) 'Tan Arnold at The Smoking Dog, Paris, for Jardin des Modes' 1957

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020)
Tan Arnold at The Smoking Dog, Paris, for Jardin des Modes
1957
Modern silver print
© Studio Frank Horvat, Boulogne-Billancour

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020) 'Fashion at Les Invalides, Paris, pour Jardin des Modes' 1958

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020)
Fashion at Les Invalides, Paris, pour Jardin des Modes
1958
Gelatin silver print
© Studio Frank Horvat, Boulogne-Billancourt

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020) 'Givenchy Hat, Paris, for Jardin des Modes' 1958

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020)
Givenchy Hat, Paris, for Jardin des Modes
1958
Modern inkjet print
© Studio Frank Horvat, Boulogne-Billancourt

 

Frank Horvat. 'Givenchy Hat For Jardin des Modes' 1958

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020)
Givenchy Hat For Jardin des Modes
1958
Modern inkjet print
© Studio Frank Horvat, Boulogne-Billancourt

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020) 'Mode à Longchamp, Givenchy hat, Paris For Jardin des Modes' 1958

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020)
Mode à Longchamp, Givenchy hat, Paris For Jardin des Modes
1958
Vintage silver print
© Studio Frank Horvat, Boulogne-Billancourt

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020) 'Monique Dutto at the Metro exit, Paris, for Jours de France' 1959

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020)
Monique Dutto at the Metro exit, Paris, for Jours de France
1959
Modern silver print
© Studio Frank Horvat, Boulogne-Billancourt

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020) 'Commuter train hall, Saint-Lazare station, for Réalités, Femina-Illustration' 1959

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020)
Commuter train hall, Saint-Lazare station, for Réalités, Femina-Illustration
1959
Gelatin silver print
© Studio Frank Horvat, Boulogne-Billancourt

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020) 'City, London, England, for Realities' 1959

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020)
City, London, England, for Realities
1959
Modern silver print
© Studio Frank Horvat, Boulogne-Billancourt

 

 

“As far as I am concerned, I had not yet realized that I lived “in the century of the body” – as it was to be called, forty years later, an exhibition of photographs, where one of the present images was going to be in the right place – and I had no intention of investigating this theme. But I had just moved to Paris, the orders were not legion and it was difficult for me to refuse that of a “men’s magazine” of New York, which offered two hundred dollars for a report on “Parisian life”.

On the sidewalks of Pigalle, the braided doormen addressed me expressions of welcome, quickly transformed into pouts disdainful as soon as I expressed the wish to photograph behind the scenes. At two o’clock in the morning, having wiped the refusals of all the establishments of the square and the alleys neighbours, I decided to go to great lengths. I slipped a five thousand franc note – of the time – in the hand of the doorman of the Sphynx, although the neon lights of this place were a slightly bald and the man’s uniform not brand new. That has been perhaps these imperfections that decided him to pocket the money and to let me enter, without further ceremony, into the sanctuary for strippers.

These young ladies gave me a rather warm welcome, perhaps because that the audience that night was so gloomy that the mere fact that a paparazzo takes care of them gave them a little feeling important. For my part, I machine-gunned hastily, as sensing that my luck would not last. Effectively, at after four or five spools, one of them said to me: “What are you paying for?” The demand was not unjustified, but I I couldn’t satisfy her. I turned a deaf ear and, without waiting for the others to join in, beat a retreat. The next day, while going through the contacts, I realized that “I had a story” […].”

Frank Horvat, Strip-tease, Paris, Galerie Nina Verny, 2001, n. p.

 

“[…] for now, his work is leading him to acquire a telephoto lens, which he tests on the urban landscape. Intrigued by the effects he obtains from it, he then abandons the motif of cabarets and of the night to experience many views taken in height, on foot, and overlooking monuments and crossroads where crowds and vehicles intermingle. He is interested in games graphics drawn by the signs, the signage, the street furniture, rooftops and the ubiquitous typography in the city. Positioning himself in the middle of the crowd, he captures close-ups of faces or bends down to child’s height. The objectives of long focal length put on the market are then the subject of a real infatuation. Frank Horvat shows a selection of his images to Romeo Martinez, the editor-in-chief of Camera magazine who, enthusiastic, decides to devote an important article to them and to exhibit them at the first Biennale of photography in Venice. This recognition will be crucial for the rest of his career, although the technique and use the telephoto lens only interested him for a short time. It earned him interviews and portfolios in magazines international photography exhibitions and to be exhibited alongside authors like Peter Keetman or William Klein. The same moment, as the exhibition “The Family of Man” arrives at Paris and that Frank Horvat surveys the city with his telephoto lens, published by Editions du Seuil, the book on New York by William Klein, who won the Nadar Prize the following year. It’s a real stylistic revolution in the world of photography, which coincides with the end of the golden age of humanist photography and the decline of photojournalism, and which marks the beginning of a new era of the press, in close correlation with the explosion of the society of consumption.”

Virginie Chardin, “Frank Horvat, the inner journey,” in Frank Horvat 50-65, Paris, Jeu de Paume / La Martinière, 2022, p. 18-21.

 

“Models who take stereotypical expressions bore me. I forced them to become what I call naively “real women”. It was a war against a lot of people; I went against the preconceived image of editors, models, makeup artists and hairstylists… and even against the necessity of having to represent a illusion. Certainly, I understand the desire for idealization that exists in fashion photography. But I wanted to realize my ideal and not that of an era. I wish that the models do not look like models. I had at first introduces passers-by, dogs, characters into the street. And then I tried to find the same truth in the studio, using white backgrounds. Sometimes I was wrong. This form of democratization of fashion has been favored by political actions. But I arrived at the right time.”

Frank Horvat, “Photographing the relationship”, interview by Muriel Berthou Crestey, October 19, 2013 (online: https://regard.hypotheses.org/1232)

 

“The greatest models of Horvat possess a beauty nonconformist, and their personality shines through the pages magazines. However, the woman in his photograph most famous remains an enigma. She stares at the lens, one eye visible under one flawless brow bone, the other obscured by the cascade of white silk flowers from her Givenchy hat. Unusually, it is not she who concentrates the attention of the other protagonists: around her, the men in top hats point their binoculars in the distance, to a horse race.”

Susanna Brown, “A beautiful chimera: Frank Horvat and fashion,” in Frank Horvat 50- 65, Paris, Jeu de Paume / La Martinière, 2022, p. 38.

 

“This photo [“Hat Givenchy, Paris, for Jardin des Modes,” 1958] would become my [most] iconic image, that is to say the one most often associated with my name. Maybe that’s why she’s not among the ones I prefer, to the point that I’m almost annoyed when it’s designate as my masterpiece. Another reason for my reluctance is that it was not really my idea, but the one of the artistic director, who even made, before the session, a sketch, which I was supposed to get as close as I could. I have never liked being directed, to the point that the concept of an “artistic direction” seems to me a contradiction in the terms: can we direct art? On the other hand, I have to admit that Jacques Moutin did not lack good ideas, and that this one was excellent. I owe him a big part of the success of this image and the benefits it has earned me.”

Frank Horvat, A look at the 60s, Paris, Loft Publications, Cyel editions, 2012, ill. 37.

 

“Thus, putting aside the notions of truth or deception in the representation of women, and in leaning instead on this concept that Griselda Pollock called the woman-as-image, it becomes possible to analyze the mechanisms of fetishism, voyeurism and objectification who form and inform the representation of women.”

Abigail Solomon-Godeau, “Representing Women: The Politics of representation of the self,” in Chair à canons. Photography, discourse, feminism, Paris, Textual, coll. “Photographic writing,” 2016, p. 234.

 

Life had finally arrived on newsstands, imitated in everything the “free world” by magazines of the same format, such as Match in Paris, Stern in Hamburg and Epoca in Milan. We admired the Magnum photographers – Cartier-Bresson, Capa, Seymour and Bischof – both artists and adventurers. Far from a stopgap measure, photojournalism appeared to me as a way to reach my ideal from a creative activity to my desire to travel the world.”

Frank Horvat, “Pre-history,” in Frank Horvat. Please don’t smile, Berlin, Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2015, p. 232.

 

“If I had to sum up the photogenicity of Paris in a few words, I would would say that it comes from its facets. We can realize that on any street corner, looking in any direction through a viewfinder: details accumulate in the frame and repeat themselves as in a game of mirrors, disparate but always granted between them […]. The effect can be enhanced by a focal length of telephoto lens, which crushes perspectives and tightens distances.”

Frank Horvat, “Cities and Languages,” in Frank Horvat, Paris-Londres, London-Paris, 1952-1962, Paris, Paris Museums, Carnavalet Museum, 1996, p. 6-7.

 

“The spectator is a recurring presence in the work of Frank Horvat, and we could interpret this male figure anonymous as a representation of the photographer himself. In his exploration of the dichotomy between manifest gaze and hidden gaze, he often uses reflective surfaces, exploiting the properties of the mirror which induce a disturbance of three-dimensional space and a fragmentation of the picture plane.”

Susanna Brown, “A beautiful chimera: Frank Horvat and fashion,” in Frank Horvat 50-65, Paris, Jeu de Paume / La Martiniere, p. 33.

 

“For the “continental” that I was, England in the 1950s was as exotic as India – my teenage dreams in less. Immigration and globalization not yet on the agenda, the male population was divided into two classes: those who wore a cap and who in the métro – the tube – read the Daily Mirror, and those who wore the bowler hat and read the Times (whose titles were inside, the first page being reserved for small advertisement). The social class of women was recognized less easily: most looked like faded flowers, wore little hats and knitted. The light of a sky of lead suited me almost better than that of the sheer sun, but I know my London pictures stayed closer caricature than miracle: I had neither the knowledge nor the imagination to superimpose on this universe another grid than that of an ironic look.

In Paris, where I transferred myself the following year, it was all contrary: the references jostled, to the point of seeming sometimes too easy. Montmartre stairs, children brandishing chopsticks, the street lamps in the fog and the fairgrounds inevitably reminded me of the movies of the 1930s, but also the so-called humanist photographers who were inspired by it and of which I did not share some tenderness. Other associations of ideas, however, were irresistible. The gaze of a passer-by as in The Flowers of Evil: “O you whom I had loved, oh you who knew it”. The ghosts of demolished houses, like in Malta Laurids Brigge: “…it wasn’t, so to speak, the first wall of the remaining houses, but the last wall of the old. We saw the inside. We could see on the different floors the walls where hangings had remained pasted, here and there the beginning of a floor or a ceiling…” And of course the Mirabeau d’Apollinaire bridge, the grand boulevards of novels by Balzac, the Quai des Orfèvres by Edgar Poe, coffee Flore de Sartre… To literary memories were added the seductions of shop windows, restaurant menus, posters theater, and of course and above all women, interviews and unapproachable behind car windows or disturbing by their availability on the sidewalks of rue Saint-Denis.

For me, these were not so much reporting themes, as I had found in India and England, only entries in the diary of my wonders, my desires, of my fears and my mistakes. As were, on other registers, the subjects of the images on the run from Cartier-Bresson and Boubat, for whom photojournalism was, in the end, only a pretext for their own quests – or simply a livelihood.”

Frank Horvat, “Autobiography,” undated manuscript, Boulogne-Billancourt, archives from Studio Frank Horvat.

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020) 'Simone d'Aillencourt with designer Hardy Friends drinking tea, British high fashion, London, England, for British Vogue' 1961

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020)
Simone d’Aillencourt with designer Hardy Friends drinking tea, British high fashion, London, England, for British Vogue
1961
Gelatin silver print
© Studio Frank Horvat, Boulogne-Billancourt

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020) 'Deborah Dixon and Federico Fellini, Italian haute couture, for Harper's Bazaar, Rome, Italy' 1962

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020)
Deborah Dixon and Federico Fellini, Italian haute couture, for Harper’s Bazaar, Rome, Italy
1962
Modern silver print
© Studio Frank Horvat, Boulogne-Billancourt

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020) 'Iris Bianchi and Agnès Varda, Paris, French haute couture, for Harper's Bazaar' 1962

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020)
Iris Bianchi and Agnès Varda, Paris, French haute couture, for Harper’s Bazaar
1962
Modern inkjet print
© Studio Frank Horvat, Boulogne-Billancourt

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020) 'Deborah Dixon on the steps of Piazza di Spagna, Italian haute couture, Rome, Italy, for Harper's Bazaar' 1962

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020)
Deborah Dixon on the steps of Piazza di Spagna, Italian haute couture, Rome, Italy, for Harper’s Bazaar
1962
Modern silver print
© Studio Frank Horvat, Boulogne-Billancourt

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020) 'Deborah Dixon eating spaghetti with writer Antero Piletti, Italian haute couture, Rome, Italy, for Harper's Bazaar' 1962

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020)
Deborah Dixon eating spaghetti with writer Antero Piletti, Italian haute couture, Rome, Italy, for Harper’s Bazaar
1962
Gelatin silver print
© Studio Frank Horvat, Boulogne-Billancourt

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020) 'Christmas night, couple dancing in sailor bar, Calcutta, India' 1962

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020)
Christmas night, couple dancing in sailor bar, Calcutta, India
1962
Vintage silver print
© Studio Frank Horvat, Boulogne-Billancourt

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020) 'Carol Lobravico au café de Flore, haute couture française, Paris, pour Harper's Bazaar' 1962

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020)
Carol Lobravico au café de Flore, haute couture française, Paris, pour Harper’s Bazaar
1962
Gelatin silver print
© Studio Frank Horvat, Boulogne-Billancourt

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020) 'Carol Lobravico et Iris Bianchi au café de Flore, haute couture française, Paris, for Harper's Bazaar' 1962

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020)
Carol Lobravico et Iris Bianchi au café de Flore, haute couture française, Paris, for Harper’s Bazaar
1962
Gelatin silver print
© Studio Frank Horvat, Boulogne-Billancourt

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020) 'Department store, Tokyo, Japan' 1963

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020)
Department store, Tokyo, Japan
1963
Vintage silver print
© Studio Frank Horvat, Boulogne-Billancourt

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020) 'Couple dancing in a gafeira (popular ball), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil' 1963

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020)
Couple dancing in a gafeira (popular ball), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
1963
Modern silver print
© Studio Frank Horvat, Boulogne-Billancourt

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020) '15th anniversary celebration, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil' 1963

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020)
15th anniversary celebration, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
1963
Silver print
© Studio Frank Horvat, Boulogne-Billancourt

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020) 'Entrance to Luna Park, Sydney, Australia' 1963

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020)
Entrance to Luna Park, Sydney, Australia
1963
Vintage silver print
© Studio Frank Horvat, Boulogne-Billancourt

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020) 'Lovers, Sydney, Australia' 1963

 

Frank Horvat (Italian, 1928-2020)
Lovers, Sydney, Australia
1963
Vintage silver print
© Studio Frank Horvat, Boulogne-Billancourt

 

Frank Horvat Photography, 1955

Frank Horvat Photography, 1955

Frank Horvat Photography, 1955

 

Frank Horvat Photography, 1955

 

Frank Horvat Jardin des Modes, France, 1958

Frank Horvat Jardin des Modes, France, 1958

 

Frank Horvat Jardin des Modes, France, 1958

 

 

Jeu de Paume at the Château de Tours
25 avenue André Malraux, 37000 Tours
Phone: 02 47 70 88 46

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday 2pm – 6pm
Closed on Monday

Jeu de Paume website

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16
Oct
22

Exhibition: ‘Instantly! Vienna Street Photography’ at the Wien Museum, Vienna

Exhibition dates: 19th May – 23rd October 2022

 

Michael Frankenstein & Comp. 'Währinger Straße' 1880's

 

Michael Frankenstein & Comp. (Austrian, 1843-1918)
Währinger Straße
1880’s
Wien Museum Collection

 

 

It is so good to post a diverse range of photography exhibitions on Art Blart. Here we have some interesting early street photographs of Vienna, images that I have never seen before.

No bibliographic information was included with the media press kit, not even the nationality of the photographers, so I have added as much information as I could find online about the artists.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to the Wien Museum for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Instantly! Vienna Street Photography, exhibition poster

 

Instantly! Vienna Street Photography, exhibition poster
Graphics: Schienerl D/AD

 

'Instantly! Vienna Street Photography', exhibition view, 2022, Wien Museum MUSA

 

Instantly! Vienna Street Photography, exhibition view, 2022, Wien Museum MUSA
Photo: timtom

 

Moriz Nähr (Austrian, 1859-1945) 'At the old Naschmarkt, Vienna' 1885

 

Moriz Nähr (Austrian, 1859-1945)
At the old Naschmarkt, Vienna
1885
Wien Museum Collection

 

 

Moriz Nähr was an Austrian photographer. Nähr was a friend of the members of the Vienna Secession art group. He is best known for his portraits of Gustav Klimt, Gustav Mahler, and Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Moriz Nähr (1859-1945) is one of the most important innovators of photography in “Vienna around 1900”. His photographic oeuvre is mentioned today in the same breath as that of the famous Parisian photographer Eugène Atget. Nähr enjoyed a life-long artist’s friendship with Gustav Klimt and was connected with the artist through a special network of eminent personalities from the arts, culture and philosophy. Numerous portrait photographs of Klimt emphatically document the two artists’ bond. Klimt was also inspired by Nähr’s photographic motifs, as illustrated by the conformities in the photographer’s pictures and Klimt’s painting Beech Forest I created in 1902. The legends surrounding Moriz Nähr are based on the one hand on his close ties with Gustav Klimt and the Vienna Secession and on the other hand on his connections with the family of Ludwig Wittgenstein and the imperial Habsburg family, especially with the heir to the throne Archduke Franz Ferdinand, who appointed him court photographer in 1908. Owing to his work as a freelance photographer as well as to his various commissions, he has left behind a multi-faceted oeuvre comprising not only landscape-, architecture-, and portrait photography but also street photography (Scenes from the Naschmarkt, 1918) as well as photographs documenting exhibitions (Vienna Secession).

Anonymous. “Moriz Nähr: Photographer of Viennese Modernism,” on the Leopold Museum website 2018 [Online] Cited 16/10/2022

 

'Instantly! Vienna Street Photography', exhibition view, 2022, Wien Museum MUSA

 

Instantly! Vienna Street Photography, exhibition view, 2022, Wien Museum MUSA
Photo: timtom

 

August Stauda (Austrian, 1861-1928) 'Kaserngasse (today Otto-Bauer-Gasse), Vienna' c. 1902

 

August Stauda (Austrian, 1861-1928)
Kaserngasse (today Otto-Bauer-Gasse), Vienna
c. 1902
Wien Museum Collection

 

 

August Stauda (* July 19, 1861 in Schurz , Bohemia ; † July 8, 1928 in Vienna) was one of the leading Viennese architectural photographers who made a name for himself as a city photographer and documentarist of “old Vienna”.

Stauda first completed an apprenticeship as a clerk in Trautenau, worked as such in Pilsen and came to Vienna in 1882 to do military service. Here he learned the craft of photography from his uncle, the city and portrait photographer Johann Evangelista Stauda and opened his own studio in 1885 at Schleifmühlgasse 5 in the 4th district of Vienna, Wieden (at the current address of the Kargl Gallery). From 1913 he was a sworn expert. During the First World War he had to file for bankruptcy. Stauda was married but had no children.

In addition to landscape shots, he captured the “old Vienna” in more than 3,000 photographs – inspired by the commission of the monument and homeland protector Count Karl Lanckoronski-Brzezie. He was particularly interested in those parts of the city that underwent significant urban planning changes around the turn of the century, especially parts of the 2nd, 3rd and 9th districts. While the appearance of the city centre at that time is still recognisable today, the contemporary pictures of Mariahilfer Strasse or Neulerchenfelder Strasse show how the passage of time has also changed the city.

Almost three thousand negatives and prints of his pictures of Vienna are now in the Austrian National Library in Vienna. The collection of prints in the possession of the Wien Museum is almost as large.

Other large holdings of Stauda are in the graphic collection of the Albertina, in the archive of the Federal Police Headquarters in Vienna and in the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków.

Text from the German Wikipedia website translated by Google Translate

 

August Stauda (Austrian, 1861-1928) '9., Nußdorfer Straße 24 / Alserbachstraße 1' 1899

 

August Stauda (Austrian, 1861-1928)
9., Nußdorfer Straße 24 / Alserbachstraße 1
1899
Albumen print
Image: 22.4 × 27.6cm
© Wien Museum

 

August Stauda (Austrian, 1861-1928) '4., Margaretenstraße 45 / Große Neugasse 37' 1899

 

August Stauda (Austrian, 1861-1928)
4., Margaretenstraße 45 / Große Neugasse 37
1899
Albumen print
© Wien Museum

 

'Instantly! Vienna Street Photography', exhibition view, 2022, Wien Museum MUSA

 

Instantly! Vienna Street Photography, exhibition view, 2022, Wien Museum MUSA
Photo: timtom

 

 

Vienna’s street life in fascinating, never-before-seen photos: The exhibition traverses the city’s pictorial history from the 1860s until today. Most of the works come from the photo collection of the Wien Museum, which show-cases its vast holdings like never before.

The focus of the exhibit is the developing gaze on big city life, from the 1860s to the present. In addition to iconic images of Vienna that capture decisive moments in urban life, the show presents numerous never-before exhibited or published photographs that bring the city’s everyday life as well as the lives of
its inhabitants to the fore: impressive street scenes, intimate snapshots, and fleeting glimpses of urban life.

Iconic images by prominent photographers like Franz Hubmann, August Stauda, Elfriede Mejchar, Robert Haas, Erich Lessing, Edith Suschitzky, Ernst Haas, Harry Weber, and Barbara Pflaum are presented alongside countless new discoveries and previously unpublished works. They capture everyday life in Vienna in enduring snapshots.

The exhibit paints a new portrait of the metropolis on the Danube, inviting visitors on an exciting pictorial journey from early urban photography to the Instagram aesthetics of the present.

Text from the Wien Museum website

 

Emil Mayer (Austrian, 1871-1938) 'On the way with the tram' 1905-1912

 

Emil Mayer (Austrian, 1871-1938)
On the way with the tram
1905-1912
Wien Museum Collection

Digitally cleaned and balanced by Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Dr. Emil Mayer FRPS (October 3, 1871 – June 8, 1938) was an Austrian photographer, lawyer, inventor, and businessperson.

After Mayer completed his studies at the University of Vienna, he established a law practice at Salvatorgasse 10 in Vienna.

Mayer’s first experience in photography was as an amateur and he was a member of several Viennese photographer associations that focused on artistic photography. His artistic photos include documentary images of Wienerstraße.

Mayer was an honorary member of many domestic and foreign photographers’ clubs. He also authored a textbook and was awarded several patents for photographic devices.

Finally, Mayer left his law firm and founded a photographic technology company DREM-Zentrale with Nikolaus Benedik. The company’s name was an abbreviation of DR. E. Mayer. International branches of the company included, DREM Products Corporation in New York and DREM Products Ltd. in London, England.

On June 6, 1903, he married Elisabeth Deutsch (March 18, 1882 – June 8, 1938).

To escape persecution from the Nazi regime after the annexation of Austria in March 1938, Mayer and his wife died by suicide in their home (BöcklinStraße 12) in Vienna on June 8, 1938.

Text from the Wikipedia website

See more photographs by Emil Mayer on the Vintage Everyday website

 

Emil Mayer was a Viennese photographer who did most of his work with a hand-camera on the streets of Vienna around the 1910s. Although he was a lawyer by profession, his greatest passion was for photography: he was the long-time president of one of Vienna’s most prominent camera clubs, and by the time of his death was internationally known for his work in photography.

Mayer’s photographs document a short-lived period of stability and prosperity in Austria’s history. The Viennese writer Stefan Zweig recalled this time in his autobiography: “Everything had its norm, its definite measure and weight. … Every family had its fixed budget, and knew how much could be spent for rent and food, for vacations and entertainment… In this vast empire everything stood firmly and immovably in its appointed place, and at its head was the aged emperor; and were he to die, one knew (or believed) another would come to take his place, and nothing would change in the well-regulated order.”

Mayer died in June, 1938 – he committed suicide along with his wife, soon after the Nazi occupation of Vienna – and we know that the Gestapo entered his apartment soon afterwards, with the result that his entire personal collection of photographs was almost certainly destroyed.

Anonymous. “Extraordinary Candid Vintage Photographs That Capture Street Scenes of Vienna, Austria From the 1900s and 1910s,” on the Vintage Everyday website January 18th 2016 [Online] Cited 16/10/2022

 

Unknown photographer. 'At the Ferdinandsbrücke, Vienna' c. 1911

 

Unknown photographer
At the Ferdinandsbrücke, Vienna
c. 1911
Wien Museum Collection

 

'Instantly! Vienna Street Photography', exhibition view, 2022, Wien Museum MUSA

 

Instantly! Vienna Street Photography, exhibition view, 2022, Wien Museum MUSA
Photo: timtom

 

Franz Holluber. 'In the Schottengasse' 1931

 

Franz Holluber
In the Schottengasse
1931
Wien Museum Collection

 

Martin Gerlach jun. (Austrian, 1879-1944) 'Tiefer Graben' 36 c. 1935

 

Martin Gerlach jun. (Austrian, 1879-1944)
Tiefer Graben 36
c. 1935
Wien Museum Collection

 

 

Martin Gerlach junior (April 2, 1879 in Vienna – July 18, 1944 in Vienna) was an Austrian photographer.

Martin Gerlach, son of Martin Gerlach senior, first learned the photography trade from his father, attended the Imperial and Royal Graphic Teaching and Research Institute from 1896-1899 and later perfected his knowledge with Josef Löwy and Hermann Clemens Kosel.

In 1906 he founded his own photo studio and after the First World War became the house photographer for the collector Camillo Castiglioni. After the death of Albert Wiedling, he continued to run the Gerlach & Wiedling publishing house from 1923 together with his son Walter Wiedling.

Martin Gerlach junior became famous through his architectural photographs of the interwar period (municipal buildings of the First Republic, construction of the Wiener Höhenstraße, etc.) as well as through his work on the RAVAG program magazine and through publications in collaboration with the artists Josef Hoffmann and Adolf Loos.

His photo archive of Viennese architecture, industry and the interwar period, which his son continued and supplemented with images from the period after 1945, came into the possession of the City of Vienna in 1989 and is now managed by the photo archive of the Austrian National Library.

On March 1, 1940, Gerlach applied for membership in the NSDAP and was accepted on April 1 (membership number 9,017,291). After his death, his widow, Anna (née Mohl), continued the studio, which was then taken over by his son Kurt Gerlach (1919-2003) in 1947. His son donated the famous Loos archive with 200 glass negatives to the Albertina collections in the 1990s .

Alongside Bruno Reiffenstein (1868-1951), Martin Gerlach is today regarded as one of the most important photographers of the Austrian monarchy.

Text from the German Wikipedia website translated by Google Translate

 

Franz Hubmann (Austrian, 1914-2007) 'Unusual Plant Transport, Wien' 1954

 

Franz Hubmann (Austrian, 1914-2007)
Unusual Plant Transport, Wien
1954
Wien Museum Collection
© Franz Hubmann / Imagno / picturedesk.com

 

 

Franz Hubmann (born October 2, 1914 in Ebreichsdorf, Lower Austria; died June 9, 2007 in Vienna) was an Austrian photographer and photojournalist.

Hubmann initially embarked on a career as a textile technician, from 1936 to 1938 he ran a hat factory. It was only after the Second World War that he decided to turn his hobby into a career. In 1946, as a 32-year-old father, Hubmann began a three-year apprenticeship at the Graphic Teaching and Research Institute in Vienna.

In 1951, when he was the head of the Austrian tourism advertising agency, he met Karl Pawek , who was the publisher of the Austria International magazine at the time – a long-term collaboration began. In 1954 they founded magnum together – the magazine for modern life. The aim of the magazine was to gently guide people into the new world of modernity. Hubmann’s photo series, such as those about the Café Hawelka, were his breakthrough as a photographer and photojournalist. He was the lead photographer until the magazine closed in 1964.

Over the decades he has published around 80 illustrated books, in particular on contemporary, historical and folklore themes. In addition, he produced 17 television films for ORF in the 1960s and early 1970s, including the 5-part series Die Hohe Schule der Fotografie (The high school of photography).

In professional circles, Hubmann was considered the doyen of Austrian photography, the “Austrian Cartier-Bresson”. He was a photographer who captured what was specifically Austrian and especially Viennese in photographic stories and narratives like no other.

Text from the German Wikipedia website translated by Google Translate

 

Heinrich Steinfest. 'Spectators at horse race' 1956

 

Heinrich Steinfest
Spectators at horse race
1956
Gelatin silver print

 

Leo Jahn-Dietrichstein (Austrian, 1911-1984) 'In the Prater' 1957

 

Leo Jahn-Dietrichstein (Austrian, 1911-1984)
In the Prater
1957
Wien Museum Collection
© Leo Jahn-Dietrichstein, Wien Museum

 

 

Leopold Jahn (Austrian, 1911-1984)

Leopold Jahn, stage name Leo Jahn-Dietrichstein (born March 30, 1911 in Vienna ; † November 1, 1984 in Vienna) was an Austrian artist (photography, painting and graphic artist).

He attended the teacher training college with a focus on mathematics, physics, chemistry and art education. In 1939 he was drafted into the Wehrmacht and assigned to Russia. In the Crimea he was wounded and sent back home. Photos from this period can be found in the Military History Museum in Vienna. After the end of the war he walked from his posting in Yugoslavia to East Tyrol, where his family had been relocated during the war. His sons were born in 1942 (Klaus Leopold) and 1946 (Kurt Georg).

He worked as a photographer, painter (classic modern) and graphic artist and published a photo book about East Tyrol, took part in various exhibitions and also had several solo exhibitions. In 1951 he returned to Vienna with his family. He was reinstated in the teaching profession, but continued to work as a photographer. He photographed post-war Vienna. From this time there are, among other things, spectacular photos of the renovation of St. Stephen’s Cathedral. A selection of these photos is owned by the Vienna Museum and the Vienna Office for the Protection of Monuments.

As an artist, he also photographed his artist friends, such as the New York fashion photographer Roland Pleterski, the sculptor Wander Bertoni, and the painter and sculptor Leherb. A selection of these photos are owned by the Vienna Museum. He also made photo reports on the Balkans and Italy.

In 1957 he published a book on Portugal. He worked for the Österreich Illustrierte, the Oberösterreichische Nachrichten, the Österreichischer Verlag, Radio Österreich, for the Magnum agency and for the Süddeutscher Verlag. In 1973 he published a book about Ludwig Boltzmann in the publishing house Jugend und Volk.

Until his retirement he remained in the school service of the city of Vienna. After that he mainly dealt with macro photography. He was particularly interested in the crystal formation of chemical substances. In this context, he worked with large industrial companies such as Schoeller-Bleckmann and Waagner Biro.

Text from the German Wikipedia website translated from the German by Google Translate

 

'Instantly! Vienna Street Photography', exhibition view, 2022, Wien Museum MUSA

 

Instantly! Vienna Street Photography, exhibition view, 2022, Wien Museum MUSA
Photo: timtom

 

Leo Jahn-Dietrichstein (Austrian, 1911-1984) 'In the Kärntner Straße' 1950-1965

 

Leo Jahn-Dietrichstein (Austrian, 1911-1984)
In the Kärntner Straße
1950-1965
Wien Museum Collection
© Leo Jahn-Dietrichstein, Wien Museum

 

 

Vienna’s street life in fascinating, never-before-seen photos: The exhibition “Instantly! Vienna Street Photography” traverses the city’s pictorial history. Most of the works come from the photo collection of the Wien Museum, which showcases its vast holdings like never before.

The focus of the exhibit is the developing gaze on big city life, from the 1860s to the present. In addition to iconic images of Vienna that capture decisive moments in urban life, the show presents numerous never-before-exhibited or published photographs that bring the city’s everyday life as well as the lives of its inhabitants to the fore: impressive street scenes, intimate snapshots, and fleeting glimpses of urban life.

The exhibit shows how the medium of photography functioned in the creation and dissemination of new urban vistas. In this way, the images also tell the story of a rapidly changing metropolis. They capture the hustle and bustle on streets, squares, and markets, uncover unexpected encounters, and document moments of indolence and pleasure. All in all, the exhibition paints a new portrait of the metropolis on the Danube, inviting visitors on an exciting pictorial journey from early urban photography to the Instagram aesthetics of the present.­

Text from the Wien Museum website

 

'Instantly! Vienna Street Photography', exhibition view, 2022, Wien Museum MUSA

 

Instantly! Vienna Street Photography, exhibition view, 2022, Wien Museum MUSA
Photo: timtom

 

 

The photographs show Vienna to be a slower, sleepier, and until recently greyer city in contrast to larger metropolises like New York, Paris, and London. In the earliest photographs taken in the latter half of the nineteenth and early decades of the twentieth centuries, the dynamism of modern forms of transportation like the tram and the automobile contrast starkly with the leisurely pace at which people move about the urban landscape.

Not only unhurried in the sense of movement, Vienna is presented as a city which has changed at a slower pace both architecturally and in terms of the manner in which people use it. The photographs capture views and angles down streets or across squares that are largely recognizable and assimilable to the contemporary viewer. Institutions like the Naschmarkt, meanwhile, remain important hubs of commerce just as they were over 100 years ago, as a photograph by Moriz Nähr taken of an elderly fruits and vegetables seller in 1885 shows all too clearly.

Nightlife and Vienna after dark are unimportant subjects in Viennese street photography. It is not that Vienna had or has no nightlife – the theater, the cabaret, and so on – but rather that nightlife was not seen by photographers as important to the city’s understanding of itself. Vienna is not a city of sin but a city of leisure. Photographers turn their lens on the coffeehouse, where patrons read the newspaper, play chess, or hold court. The Viennese are captured swimming in the Danube, sunbathing, playing cards, or going to the funfair. These street photographs perpetuate the idea of a certain Viennese Gemütlichkeit, a feeling of warmth, friendless, and good cheer.

Liam Hoare. “Instantly!” on The Vienna Briefing website Jun 1, 2022 [Online] Cited 08/10/2022

 

Elfriede Mejchar (Austrian, 1924-2020) From the series 'Simmeringer Haide, Erdberger Mais' 1967-1976

 

Elfriede Mejchar (Austrian, 1924-2020)
From the series Simmeringer Haide, Erdberger Mais
1967-1976
Wien Museum Collection
© Elfriede Mejchar

 

 

Elfriede Mejchar (May 10, 1924 in Vienna – October 11, 2020) was an Austrian photographer.

Elfriede Mejchar grew up in Lower Austria. From 1939 she attended school in Germany, where she then began an apprenticeship as a photographer. When the war ended in 1945, Mejchar lived in Lower Austria again. In 1961 Mejchar passed the master’s examination at the Graphic Teaching and Research Institute in Vienna. From 1952 to 1984, Mejchar worked as a photographer at the Federal Monuments Office in Vienna and then as a freelancer. She was buried at the Vienna Central Cemetery.

Text from the German Wikipedia website translated by Google Translate

 

Andreas Baumann (Austrian, b. 1968) From the series 'Wiener Autofahrer unterwegs' (Viennese motorists on the road) 1998

 

Andreas Baumann (Austrian, b. 1968)
From the series Wiener Autofahrer unterwegs (Viennese motorists on the road)
1998
Wien Museum Collection
© Andreas Baumann

 

'Instantly! Vienna Street Photography', exhibition view, 2022, Wien Museum MUSA

 

Instantly! Vienna Street Photography, exhibition view, 2022, Wien Museum MUSA showing at right, photographs from Andreas Baumann’s series Wiener Autofahrer unterwegs (Viennese motorists on the road)
Photo: timtom

 

Reinhard Mandl (Austrian, b. 1960) 'At Franz-Josefs-Kai' 2000

 

Reinhard Mandl (Austrian, b. 1960)
At Franz-Josefs-Kai
2000
Wien Museum Collection
© Reinhard Mandl

 

Didi Sattmann (Austrian, b. 1951) 'Seestadt Aspern' 2014

 

Didi Sattmann (Austrian, b. 1951)
Seestadt Aspern
2014
Wien Museum Collection
© Didi Sattmann

Young people illegally bathing in the lake

 

'Instantly! Vienna Street Photography', exhibition view, 2022, Wien Museum MUSA

 

Instantly! Vienna Street Photography, exhibition view, 2022, Wien Museum MUSA
Photo: timtom

 

 

Wien Museum
1040 Vienna, Karlsplatz 8
Phone: +43 (0)1 505 87 47 0

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday and public holidays 10am – 6pm

Wien Museum website

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13
Oct
22

Exhibition: ‘Chosen Family – Less Alone Together’ at the Fotomuseum Winterthur, Zurich, Switzerland

Exhibition dates: 11th June – 16th October 2022

 

Richard Billingham (English, b. 1970) 'Untitled' 1990

 

Richard Billingham (English, b. 1970)
Untitled
1990
From the series Ray’s a laugh, 1989-1996
© Richard Billingham

 

 

Blood is thicker than water (or so they say…)

Families – of whatever flavour, construction, empathy, vitriol, love, kindness, dis/affection – are depicted in photographs that shine light on photography’s treatment of the (elective) family and its representation of it as a social and cultural construct.

Today, there are so many alternatives to the “nuclear” family (what an irony that term is, although “nuclear” has links to the word “nucleus” ie, essential, long before the advent of nuclear energy) – that is a couple and their dependent children, regarded as a basic social unit – that it is a joy to celebrate the diversity of “family”, much to the annoyance and distaste of conservative, religious fundamentalists. Family can be anything that we would like to make it!

Personally, I envy those that had a blissful family childhood without the violence and abuse. I really can’t imagine what that would have been like, to have a mother and father that openly expressed love and kindness to their children. I am thankful I had a brother that I was close with, but even that was split asunder, not to be rekindled for many a year. But that upbringing has shaped who I am today. And now I surround myself with my straight and gay family.

As I say, families smamlies!

Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without them.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to the Fotomuseum Winterthur, Zurich for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

Family means (chosen) kinship, blood ties and sometimes lifelong bonds – and the perpetual renegotiation of boundaries, regardless of how much fondness and affection are involved. Kinship has at once nothing and everything to do with points of similarity and common ground in day-to-day life and with the ideas we have about everyday realities. We are part of a family – sometimes only on paper and sometimes as a community that is made up of friends who are devoted to one another over the course of their lives. Communities play a key role in today’s world: they are crucial to our decision-making and help to mould us and shape the way we think, feel and act.

The (chosen) family is depicted in different ways in photography and art: photographers document everyday family life and use the camera to capture moments of heightened emotion. Family members can also become partners in the photographic process, contributing to the act of image-making. This finds its way into the exhibition as well as genealogical projects in which artists set out to explore their own personal histories on the basis of the lives their ancestors lived.

Just like the photographic testimony we have of them, family stories speak of diversity, individuality and collectivity, intimacy and distance. Family and chosen family imply chaos and happiness, quirky habits and the sharing of everyday banalities and powerful feelings. At best, family and community represent a familiar slice of home.

Text from the Fotomuseum Winterthur website

 

Richard Billingham (English, b. 1970) 'Untitled' 1995

 

Richard Billingham (English, b. 1970)
Untitled
1995
From the series Ray’s a laugh, 1989-1996
© Richard Billingham

 

Richard Billingham (English, b. 1970) 'Untitled' 1995

 

Richard Billingham (English, b. 1970)
Untitled
1995
From the series Ray’s a laugh, 1989-1996
© Richard Billingham

 

Charlie Engman (American, b. 1987) From the series 'MOM', 2009- (installation view)

 

Charlie Engman (American, b. 1987)
From the series MOM, 2009- (installation view)
© Charlie Engman
Photo: © Fotomuseum Winterthur / Conradin Frei

 

Charlie Engman (American, b. 1987) 'Baseball Mom' 2017

 

Charlie Engman (American, b. 1987)
Baseball Mom
2017
From the series MOM, 2009-
© Charlie Engman

 

Charlie Engman (American, b. 1987) 'Blue Mom' 2017

 

Charlie Engman (American, b. 1987)
Blue Mom
2017
From the series MOM, 2009-
© Charlie Engman

 

Charlie Engman (American, b. 1987) 'Mom calling' 2019

 

Charlie Engman (American, b. 1987)
Mom calling
2019
From the series MOM, 2009-
© Charlie Engman

 

Charlie Engman (American, b. 1987) 'Mom in the Fields' 2014

 

Charlie Engman (American, b. 1987)
Mom in the Fields
2014
From the series MOM, 2009-
© Charlie Engman

 

Charlie Engman (American, b. 1987) 'Mom with Kage' 2013

 

Charlie Engman (American, b. 1987)
Mom with Kage
2013
From the series MOM, 2009-
© Charlie Engman

 

Seiichi Furuya (Japanese, b. 1950) 'Wien' 1983

 

Seiichi Furuya (Japanese, b. 1950)
Wien
1983
From the series Portrait of Christine Furuya, Graz/Wien, 1978-1984
© Seiichi Furuya and Galerie Thomas Fischer

 

Seiichi Furuya (Japanese, b. 1950) 'Graz' 1979

 

Seiichi Furuya (Japanese, b. 1950)
Graz
1979
From the series Portrait of Christine Furuya, Graz/Wien, 1978-1984
© Seiichi Furuya and Galerie Thomas Fischer

 

Pixy Liao (Chinese, b. 1979) 'Some Words Are Just Between Us' 2013

 

Pixy Liao (Chinese, b. 1979)
Some Words Are Just Between Us
2013
From the series Experimental Relationship, 2007-
© Pixy Liao

 

Pixy Liao (Chinese, b. 1979) 'Things We Talked About' 2013

 

Pixy Liao (Chinese, b. 1979)
Things We Talked About
2013
From the series Experimental Relationship, 2007-
© Pixy Liao

 

Pixy Liao (Chinese, b. 1979) 'It's Never Been Easy to Carry You' 2013

 

Pixy Liao (Chinese, b. 1979)
It’s Never Been Easy to Carry You
2013
From the series Experimental Relationship, 2007-
© Pixy Liao

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Chosen Family – Less Alone Together' at the Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland

 

Installation view of the exhibition Chosen Family – Less Alone Together at the Fotomuseum Winterthur showing at left, Pixy Liao’s work from the series Experimental Relationship (2007-, above); and at right, Dayanita Singh’s work from the series The Third Sex Portfolio (1989-1999, below)
Photo: © Winterthur / Conradin Frei

 

Pixy Liao (Chinese, b. 1979) 'Carry The Weight Of You' 2017

 

Pixy Liao (Chinese, b. 1979)
Carry The Weight Of you
2017
From the series Experimental Relationship, 2007-
© Pixy Liao

 

Pixy Liao (Chinese, b. 1979) 'Find A Woman You Can Rely On' 2018

 

Pixy Liao (Chinese, b. 1979)
Find A Woman You Can Rely On
2018
From the series Experimental Relationship, 2007-
© Pixy Liao

 

 

The exhibition Chosen Family – Less Alone Together draws on international positions and works from the collection of Fotomuseum Winterthur to shed light on photography’s treatment of the (elective) family and its representation of it as a social and cultural construct. The artistic approaches on display are as varied as the different family stories they depict. In addition to the works of professional photographers and artists, the museum also presents personal photo albums, showing the family stories of people from Winterthur and from all over Switzerland.

The exhibition Chosen Family – Less Alone Together presents works by contemporary photographers who delve into their own family history, examining and exploring their past. Alba Zari‘s work involves a reappraisal of her own family history mediated by pictures from her family archive and contemporary photographic documents. The artist – who was born into a fundamentalist Christian sect – uses scraps of text and image fragments to investigate the history of her family and explore her own identity in the process. The photographer Lindokuhle Sobekwa also uses pictures to reconstruct events from the past. When he was just seven, his sister, who was six years older than him, disappeared without a trace and did not return until ten years later. With the help of a documentary photo book, Sobekwa attempts to create a picture – quite literally – of this formative point in his life, a time he knows very little about and which no one has spoken about for ages. Richard Billingham, meanwhile, grapples with his own history and biography by making a loving yet unsparing record of his parents’ life and day-to-day reality, in the process showing a domestic world shaped by poverty and addiction. Diana Markosian processes her family history in a short film featuring actors she cast in their roles and clever set photography. Her narrative video sequences re-enact her own childhood memories, which she stages as cinematic imagery. The film’s perspective is shaped by the experience of migration undergone by her mother, who left her husband after the break-up of the Soviet Union and moved with her children to the US to marry an American.

Other artists present themselves and members of their family in sometimes elaborately staged settings. By breaking open and re-enacting the family structures, their work reflects on the roles played by the individual family members and the photographers’ own position within this constellation. This way of exploring family dynamics turns members of the family into collaborative partners in the image-making process. Charlie Engman, for example, presents his ‘mom’ in settings that have little in common with our conception of a mother’s everyday reality: we may see her posing in a hydrogen-blonde wig, with blue eyeshadow and a fierce, challenging look, or climbing up a rope ladder fixed to a tree, wearing white knickers. Engman’s work playfully calls into question the one-dimensional image of the caring mother. Pixie Liao also takes a playful approach as she bucks classic role models: her portraits of herself together with her partner subtly subvert stereotypical ideas of men and women. The photographs show her partner resting his head on her shoulder or being held in her arms. Photographer Leonard Suryajaya, meanwhile, stages his parents and extended family using symbolically charged props in elaborately arranged environments fitted out with rugs and fabrics. The at times quirky interactions between individual members of the family are at odds with our idea of a conventional family portrait.

Other artistic explorations focus on the fact that family can be defined by much more than just (blood) kinship and is experienced via community constellations with deep bonds. These works show how photography can be a means of creating new ‘images of family’ that offer an alternative to middle-class notions of it. Their depictions of communities that exist outside traditional constellations challenge our concept of how a conventional family looks. Dayanita Singh, for example, took pictures of Mona Ahmed and her adopted daughter Ayesha during the 1990s. Ahmed identifies as a hijra, as part, that is, of a community that rejects a binary view of gender and the norms it imposes. Members of the community, which has existed for thousands of years, were criminalised under British colonial rule and they are still exposed to discrimination and violence today. As viewers of Singh’s work, we are confronted with images that challenge our idea of traditional families and communities. Photographer Mark Morrisroe also depicts a sense of cohesiveness apart from kinship in portraits of his friends and lovers – his gang – who were the hub of his daily activities and a pivotal element in his life. The pictures reveal the deep emotional connection between the protagonists, expressing complicity and a sense of belonging, an embodiment of the idea of elective family.

In addition to the works of international artists, Fotomuseum Winterthur is also exhibiting photo albums and presenting the stories of families from Winterthur and Switzerland in association with the pictures. As part of an open call, the museum is offering people the opportunity to share their personal family stories with visitors and to display their family photos in one of the exhibition spaces.

An exhibition of international loans and items from the collection of Fotomuseum Winterthur, curated by Nadine Wietlisbach with the support of Katrin Bauer. With works by Aarati Akkapeddi, Richard Billingham, Larry Clark, Charlie Engman, Seiichi Furuya, Nan Goldin, Pixy Liao, Diana Markosian, Anne Morgenstern, Mark Morrisroe, Dayanita Singh, Lindokuhle Sobekwa, Annelies Štrba, Leonard Suryajaya and Alba Zari. Christoph Merian Verlag will publish the book ChosenFamily – Less alone together as an adjunct to the exhibition.

 

Selection of Artists

Alba Zari (b. 1987) embarks on a forensic photographic search in her ongoing work Occult, which sets out to explore her family history. The Italian artist was born into the fundamentalist Christian sect The Children of God (now known as The Family International) after her grandmother and mother fell into its clutches at the ages of 33 and 13 respectively. The cult was discredited because it encouraged sex with minors and forced women into prostitution as a way to ‘recruit’ new members. Using her family archive as well as texts and visuals of the sect, archive images of other members and found material from the internet, Zari explores her own family history, while also reflecting on the propaganda tools and mechanisms deployed by the Children of God. The photographs in Zari’s work function both as source materials and as a medium in themselves. Her compilation of these different images not only indicates how photographs are used to spread untruths but also helps to reveal and expose them to critical view. The artist’s multimedia research thus renders an overall sense of the categories and symbols we use to define and represent family, yielding a picture that is at once self-reflexive and charged with social criticism.

Seiichi Furuya (b. 1950) took portrait pictures of his wife Christine Gössler over a period of several years. Furuya was fascinated by his partner from the moment they met and was deeply attached to her. For him, photography was a way to capture the numerous facets of the woman who was both his wife and the mother of his child. What was key here was not so much the finished picture but rather the brief, rapt moment of being face to face with one another. His photographs were not just an observation of his subject but also an act of self-discovery. The relationship between the couple came to a tragic end when Christine took her own life in 1985. Furuya’s hundreds of photographs of her are still an important element in his work today and, over the decades, he has repeatedly made new compilations of them. His preoccupation with them entails grief work. As he puts it, it is a way for him to pursue the ‘truth’, even if, in the end, he only ever finds himself back with his own version of the story.

What does a modern romantic relationship look like? How is its shape determined by the expectations of the individuals involved and by social preconceptions? Pixy Liao (b. 1979) focuses on these questions in her long-term photographic project Experimental Relationship, in which the artist presents herself with her partner in a range of staged situations. The couple switch between different modes at different times and may be serious or humorous, vulnerable or self-assured. When Liao met her partner in 2005, she quickly realised that he did not fit in with the conservative ideas that had informed her socialisation, and her received sense of gender roles began to unravel. Liao used this as an opportunity to examine their relationship – along with the cultural and social dynamics inscribed in it. In her photographs, it is Liao, then, who supports her partner as he lies across her shoulders or shows him stripped down to his underpants as she – herself fully clothed, it should be noted – tweaks his nipple. It is Liao who lays the man’s naked body across a table, using it as a serving dish from which to eat a papaya. Not only are gender stereotypes and clichés inverted in Liao’s work but their power dynamics are questioned and probed in a shared performative act in front of the camera.

Lindokuhle Sobekwa‘s (b. 1995) handmade photo book I Carry Her Photo with Me, is an attempt on the part of the South African documentary photographer to reconstruct the life of his sister Ziyanda, who disappeared in 2002 at the age of 13. She did not return to her family until ten years later, by which time she was seriously ill and died shortly afterwards. Sobekwa’s documentary research of places where his sister stayed allows him to make artistic assumptions about her life. It is not uncommon for people in South African townships to disappear. Sobekwa’s work thus not only deals with his very personal family history but also focuses on questions affecting society as a whole. The title of the book documents Sobekwa’s desire to preserve the memory of his sister, while also standing for the effort to enshrine in the collective memory the fates of other people who have disappeared.

For all the colourful patterned wallpaper and kitschy interior decorations they show, the photographs by British artist Richard Billingham (b. 1970) are not images of a stable family in a sheltered environment. Growing up in a precarious household, affected by alcoholism, violence and his parents’ lack of prospects, Billingham began working in 1989 – at the age of 19 – on a complex photographic portrait of a dysfunctional family constellation, a project that he would continue over a period of seven years. In a bid to productively confront his day-to-day sense of powerlessness, the young artist makes his own parents’ lack of agency the tragicomic subject of his photographs. The domestic poverty in the images, which is at once tragic and sensitively portrayed, was seen by art critics as a sociopolitical comment on the upheavals of the Thatcher era. However, Billingham’s Family Album should not simply be viewed as a metaphor representing a sociopolitical crisis – it is first and foremost autobiographical in form and a means of coping with the present.

Press release from the Fotomuseum Winterthur

 

Diana Markosian (American-Armenian, b. 1989) 'Christmas Morning' 2019

 

Diana Markosian (American-Armenian, b. 1989)
Christmas Morning
2019
From the series Santa Barbara, 2019-2020
© Diana Markosian and Galerie Les filles du Calvaire

 

 

Diana Markosian (born 1989) is an American artist of Armenian descent, working as a documentary photographer, writer, and filmmaker.

Markosian is known for her photo essays, including Inventing My Father, (2013-2014) about her relationship with her father, and 1915, (2015) about the lives of those who survived the Armenian genocide and the land from which they were expelled. Her most recent project, Santa Barbara, published by Aperture, reconstructs her mother’s journey from post-Soviet Russia to America, inspired by a 1980s American soap opera. Through a series of staged photographs and a narrative video, the artist reconsiders her family history from her mother’s perspective, relating to her for the first time as a woman rather than a parent, and coming to terms with the profound sacrifices her mother made to become an American.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Diana Markosian (American-Armenian, b. 1989) 'The Wedding' 2019

 

Diana Markosian (American-Armenian, b. 1989)
The Wedding
2019
From the series Santa Barbara, 2019-2020
© Diana Markosian and Galerie Les filles du Calvaire

 

Diana Markosian (American-Armenian, b. 1989) 'The Arrival' 2019

 

Diana Markosian (American-Armenian, b. 1989)
The Arrival
2019
From the series Santa Barbara, 2019-2020
© Diana Markosian and Galerie Les filles du Calvaire

 

My family arrived to America in 1996. My mother described it as the arrival to nowhere, with the hope of going somewhere.

 

Anne Morgenstern (German, b. 1976) From the series 'Whatever the Fuck You Want' 2018-2020

 

Anne Morgenstern (German, b. 1976)
From the series Whatever the Fuck You Want
2018-2020
© Anne Morgenstern

 

Anne Morgenstern (German, b. 1976) From the series 'Whatever the Fuck You Want' 2018-2020

 

Anne Morgenstern (German, b. 1976)
From the series Whatever the Fuck You Want
2018-2020
© Anne Morgenstern

 

 

Anne Morgenstern (German, b. 1976)
From the series Whatever the Fuck You Want
2018-2020
© Anne Morgenstern

 

Anne Morgenstern (German, b. 1976) From the series 'Whatever the Fuck You Want' 2018-2020 (installation view)

 

Anne Morgenstern (German, b. 1976)
From the series Whatever the Fuck You Want 2018-2020 (installation view)
© Anne Morgenstern
Photo: © Fotomuseum Winterthur / Conradin Frei

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Chosen Family – Less Alone Together' at the Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland

 

Installation view of the exhibition Chosen Family – Less Alone Together at the Fotomuseum Winterthur showing at left the work of Mark Morrisroe (below), and at right, the work of Alba Zari (below)
Photo: © Winterthur / Conradin Frei

 

Mark Morrisroe (American, 1959-1989) 'Untitled (Lynelle)' c. 1985

 

Mark Morrisroe (American, 1959-1989)
Untitled (Lynelle)
c. 1985

 

 

Mark Morrisroe (January 10, 1959 – July 24, 1989) was an American performance artist and photographer. He is known for his performances and photographs, which were germane in the development of the punk scene in Boston in the 1970s and the art world boom of the mid- to late 1980s in New York City. By the time of his death he had created some 2,000 pieces of work…

His career as a photographer began when he was given a Polaroid Model 195 Land Camera. He experimented with unusual development techniques, receiving generous support of supplies, film, and chemicals from the Polaroid Corporation. Within his close circle of friends he soon laid claim to the “invention” of what are called “sandwich” prints – enlargements of double negatives of the same subject mounted on top of one another – which yielded an elaborate pictorial quality, producing a very iconic painterly impression in the final result, which over time he learned to use in an increasingly controlled way.

Early on, the artist recognised the intrinsic value of prints – irrespective of the medium used to produce them – as pictorial objects that he could manipulate, colour, paint and write on at will. Thus, Morrisroe scrawled comments, biographical notes and dedications on the side of his pictures, which made them very personal pieces of art. His photographs were mostly portraits, and his subjects included lovers, friends, hustlers, and people who visited his apartment. He also often incorporated stills from Super 8 films. There are a few photographs which incorporate landscapes and external shots.

Morrisroe died on July 24, 1989, aged 30, in Jersey City, New Jersey from complications of AIDS. His ashes are scattered in McMinnville, Oregon on the farm of his last boyfriend, Ramsey McPhillips. He is considered a member of the Boston School of Photography and his work is found in many important collections including that of the Whitney and MOCA of Los Angeles. The estate of Mark Morrisroe (Collection Ringier) is currently located at the Fotomuseum Winterthur.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Mark Morrisroe (American, 1959-1989) 'Ramsey (Lake Oswego)' 1986

 

Mark Morrisroe (American, 1959-1989)
Ramsey (Lake Oswego)
1986
Chromogenic print

 

 

What’s most amazing about this work is that much of it was executed in impromptu darkrooms the artist rigged up in his hospital bathrooms. Morrisroe’s courageous, unrelenting drive to keep making art is inspiring. The catalogue essayists clarify a body of work done in considerable isolation; there were no longer cute friends around to get naked with (except, perhaps, the artist’s last partner, Ramsey McPhillips). Very often Morrisroe was by himself. The black-and-white Polaroids of the artist nude, lying in the sunlight, his body wasted to a bony apparition of his former saturnine self, are among the most moving in the show.

Morrisroe died, but his spirit lives on – not only in the additional prints that will no doubt now come on the market in increasing numbers, but as the avatar of young video and performance artists, like Kalup Linzy and Ryan Trecartin, who wreak havoc with gender and identity. There’s also a renewed fervor over ’80s homoerotic work and its role in the American culture wars. The recent censorship of David Wojnarowicz’s video A Fire in My Belly (1986), removed from the exhibition “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture” at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. (then screened at a dozen museums and acquired by New York’s Museum of Modern Art), provoked memories of the first fracas over Wojnarowicz’s work and NEA funding. Back then, in 1989, the controversial show was “Against Our Vanishing,” curated by Nan Goldin for Artists Space, and it included, posthumously, photographs by Morrisroe.

Brooks Adams. “Beautiful, Dangerous People,” on the Art in American website February 28, 2011 [Online] Cited 10/10/2022

 

Dayanita Singh (Indian, b. 1961) 'On his arrival each eunuch was greeted by me with garland of jasmine flowers. Ayesha's first birthday' 1990

 

Dayanita Singh (Indian, b. 1961)
On his arrival each eunuch was greeted by me with garland of jasmine flowers. Ayesha’s first birthday
1990
From the series The Third Sex Portfolio, 1989-1999
© Dayanita Singh

 

 

Dayanita Singh (born 18 March 1961) is an Indian photographer whose primary format is the book. She has published fourteen books.

Singh’s art reflects and expands on the ways in which people relate to photographic images. Her later works, drawn from her extensive photographic oeuvre, are a series of mobile museums allowing her images to be endlessly edited, sequenced, archived and displayed. Stemming from her interest in the archive, the museums present her photographs as interconnected bodies of work that are full of both poetic and narrative possibilities.

Publishing is also a significant part of Singh’s practice. She has created multiple “book-objects” – works that are concurrently books, art objects, exhibitions, and catalogues – often with the publisher Steidl. Museum Bhavan has been shown at the Hayward Gallery, London (2013), the Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt (2014), the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago (2014) and the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi (2016).

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Dayanita Singh (Indian, b. 1961) 'I get this strong urge to dance from within. Ayesha's second birthday' 1991

 

Dayanita Singh (Indian, b. 1961)
I get this strong urge to dance from within. Ayesha’s second birthday
1991
From the series The Third Sex Portfolio, 1989-1999
© Dayanita Singh

 

Dayanita Singh (Indian, b. 1961) 'Shalu dances on Ayesha's second birthday' 1991

 

Dayanita Singh (Indian, b. 1961)
Shalu dances on Ayesha’s second birthday
1991
From the series The Third Sex Portfolio, 1989-1999
© Dayanita Singh

 

Lindokuhle Sobekwa (South African, b. 1995) From the artist book 'I Carry Her Photo with Me' 2017

 

Lindokuhle Sobekwa (South African, b. 1995)
From the artist book I Carry Her Photo with Me
2017
Baryta paper
Artist book scan p. 3-4. 2014/2018
40cm x 60cm
Magnum Photo, Magnum Foundation, Gerhard Steidl, Subotzky Studios, David Krut Studios, Josh Ginsburg, Mark Sealy
© Lindokuhle Sobekwa and Magnum Photos

 

Lindokuhle Sobekwa (South African, b. 1995) From the artist book 'I Carry Her Photo with Me' 2017

 

Lindokuhle Sobekwa (South African, b. 1995)
From the artist book I Carry Her Photo with Me
2017
Baryta paper
Artist book scan p. 9-10. 2014/2018
40cm x 60cm
Magnum Photo, Magnum Foundation, Gerhard Steidl, Subotzky Studios, David Krut Studios, Josh Ginsburg, Mark Sealy
© Lindokuhle Sobekwa and Magnum Photos

 

Annelies Štrba (Swiss, b. 1947) 'Ån 22' From the series 'Filmstills aus Dawa-Video', 2001

 

Annelies Štrba (Swiss, b. 1947)
Ån 22
From the series Filmstills aus Dawa-Video, 2001
C-Print
40 x 50cm
© Annelies Štrba

 

 

Annelies Štrba is a Swiss multimedia artist, who lives in the Zurich metropolitan area. She works with video, photography, and digital media to approach her subjects, which range from domestically themed images, portraiture, and both urban and natural landscapes.

Štrba combines photography, digital media, and film to chronicle her physical and emotional life. A mother of three, she has been documenting her family environment through her work for over four decades. Her best-known bodies of work, Shades of Time, AYA, NYIMA, and her most recent publication, Noonday, depict her immediate family including her three children, and five grandchildren. Although she is working with subject matter that is very personal and quite literally close to home, Štrba constructs a quality of fantastical narrative in her pictures, utilising combinations of the different mediums in her repertoire. While creating images that evoke fantastical emotion using technological processes, she simultaneously embraces a sense from 19th-century romanticism while addressing themes of domesticity and nature.

Štrba uses a digital camera to capture moments and figures in film and still, which she then colours with the aid of computer programs. This digital manipulation provides Štrba’s images with a sense of painterliness and allows her to abandon naturalism and realist details in favour of complex visual textures. She often photographs around the family homes just outside of Zurich or in the Swiss mountains, where they spend many weekends and holidays. The product is a personal and poetically abstract documentation of the life around her, capturing her subjects at the dining room table, grooming, in the chaos of untidy rooms, or surrounded by nature. Overall, a personal story is told of the intertwined lives and relationships, speaking to memories, reactions, and nostalgic realisation.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Annelies Štrba (Swiss, b. 1947) 'Ån 36' From the series 'Filmstills aus Dawa-Video', 2001

 

Annelies Štrba (Swiss, b. 1947)
Ån 36
From the series Filmstills aus Dawa-Video, 2001
C-Print
40 x 50cm
© Annelies Štrba

 

Annelies Štrba (Swiss, b. 1947) 'Ån 34' From the series 'Filmstills aus Dawa-Video', 2001

 

Annelies Štrba (Swiss, b. 1947)
Ån 34
From the series Filmstills aus Dawa-Video, 2001
© Annelies Štrba

 

Leonard Suryajaya (Chinese-Indonesian, b. 1988) 'Dad Duck' 2020

 

Leonard Suryajaya (Chinese-Indonesian, b. 1988)
Dad Duck
2020
From the series False Idol, 2016-2020
© Leonard Suryajaya

 

Leonard Suryajaya (Chinese-Indonesian, b. 1988) 'Good Neighbors' 2018

 

Leonard Suryajaya (Chinese-Indonesian, b. 1988)
Good Neighbors
2018
From the series False Idol, 2016-2020
© Leonard Suryajaya

 

Leonard Suryajaya (Chinese-Indonesian, b. 1988) 'Hoda' 2018

 

Leonard Suryajaya (Chinese-Indonesian, b. 1988)
Hoda
2018
From the series False Idol, 2016-2020
© Leonard Suryajaya

 

Leonard Suryajaya (Chinese-Indonesian, b. 1988) 'Virtual Reality' 2017

 

Leonard Suryajaya (Chinese-Indonesian, b. 1988)
Virtual Reality
2017
From the series False Idol, 2016-2020
© Leonard Suryajaya

 

Leonard Suryajaya (Chinese-Indonesian, b. 1988) 'Little Sissy' 2017

 

Leonard Suryajaya (Chinese-Indonesian, b. 1988)
Little Sissy
2017
From the series False Idol, 2016-2020
© Leonard Suryajaya

 

Leonard Suryajaya (Chinese-Indonesian, b. 1988) 'Two Bodies' 2017

 

Leonard Suryajaya (Chinese-Indonesian, b. 1988)
Two Bodies
2017
From the series False Idol, 2016-2020
© Leonard Suryajaya

 

Leonard Suryajaya (Chinese-Indonesian, b. 1988) From the series 'False Idol' 2016-2020 (installation view)

 

Leonard Suryajaya (Chinese-Indonesian, b. 1988)
From the series False Idol, 2016-2020 (installation view)
© Leonard Suryajaya
Photo: © Fotomuseum Winterthur / Conradin Frei

 

Alba Zari (Thailand, b. 1987) 'Family Archive' From the series 'Occult', 2019-

 

Alba Zari (Thailand, b. 1987)
Family Archive
From the series Occult, 2019-
© Alba Zari

 

Alba Zari (Thailand, b. 1987) 'Family Archive' From the series 'Occult', 2019-

 

Alba Zari (Thailand, b. 1987)
Family Archive
From the series Occult, 2019-
© Alba Zari

 

Poster for the exhibition 'Chosen Family – Less Alone Together' at the Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland

 

Poster for the exhibition Chosen Family – Less Alone Together at the Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland

 

 

Fotomuseum Winterthur
Grüzenstrasse 44 + 45
CH-8400
Winterthur (Zürich)

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Sunday 11am – 6pm
Wednesday 11am – 8pm
Closed on Mondays

Fotomuseum Winterthur website

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09
Oct
22

Exhibition: ‘Spowers & Syme’ at the Geelong Art Gallery, Victoria

Exhibition dates: 16th July – 16th October 2022

A National Gallery Touring Exhibition

Curator: Dr Sarina Noordhuis-Fairfax, Curator of Australian Prints and Drawings at the National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra

 

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Spowers & Syme' at the Geelong Art Gallery showing photographs of both Ethel Spowers and Eveline Syme

 

Installation view of the exhibition Spowers & Syme at the Geelong Art Gallery showing photographs of both Ethel Spowers and Eveline Syme (below)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

My friend and I travelled down the highway from Melbourne to Geelong especially to see this National Gallery of Australia touring exhibition – and my god, was it worth the journey!

I have always loved woodcuts and the Art Deco era so it was a great pleasure to see the work of two very talented artists from this period, who were “enthusiastic exponents of modern art in Melbourne during the 1930s and ’40s.” Modern art that would have challenged the conservative (male) art conventions of the day, much as modernist photographs by Max Dupain challenged the ongoing power of Pictorialist photography in 1930s Australia.

From viewing the exhibition it would seem to me that Eveline Syme has the sparer, more ascetic aesthetic. Her forms are more graphic, her lines more severe, her spaces more “blocky” (if I can use that word – in other words, more positive and negative space), her colour palette more restrained than in the work of Ethel Spowers. But her work possesses its own charm: a wonderful Japanese inspired landscape such as The factory (1933, below), with its mix of modernism and naturalism; silhouetted blue figures full of dynamism, movement in a swirling circular motif in Skating (1929, below); or the flattened perspective and 3 colour palette of Sydney tram line (1936, below) – all offer their own delicious enjoyment of the urban landscape.

But the star of the show is the work of the astonishing Ethel Spowers. Her work is luminous… containing such romanticism, fun, humour, movement, play, intricate design, bold colours, lyrical graphics… and emotion – that I literally went weak at the knees when viewing these stunningly beautiful art works. There is somethings so joyful about Spowers designs that instantly draws you in, that makes you smile, that made me cry! They really touched my heart…

Even now writing about them, they seem to me like stills from a dream, scenes out of a fairy tale: the pattern of the white gulls obscuring the plough; the rays of sunlight striking the ground behind The lonely farm; the mysterious stillness of The island of the dead; the arching leap over the rope in Fox and geese; the pyramid construction of Football; the delicacy of movement and line in Swings; and the butterfly-like canopies in Wet afternoon. I could go on and on about the joy these works brought me when looking at them, their vivaciousness, their intense, effervescent spirit. If you get a chance before the exhibition closes next weekend in Geelong please go to see them.

As you may have gathered I am totally in love with the work of Ethel Spowers. Thank you, thank you to the artist for making them, and thank you to the energy of the cosmos for allowing me to see them in person!

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to Geelong Art Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. All installation images © Marcus Bunyan, Geelong Art Gallery and the National Gallery of Australia.

 

 

“Is it too great a truism to repeat that the best art is always the child of its own age?”

.
Eveline Syme

 

 

Celebrating the artistic friendship of Melbourne artists Ethel Spowers and Eveline Syme, the National Gallery Touring Exhibition Spowers and Syme will present the changing face of interwar Australia through the perspective of two pioneering modern women artists.

The exhibition offers rare insight into the unlikely collaboration between the daughters of rival media families. Studying together in Paris and later with avant-garde printmaker Claude Flight in London, Ethel Spowers and Eveline Syme returned to the conservative art world of Australia – where they became enthusiastic exponents of modern art in Melbourne during the 1930s and ’40s.

Much-loved for their innovative approach to lino and woodcut techniques, Spowers and Syme showcases their dynamic approach through prints and drawings whose rhythmic patterns reflect the fast pace of the modern world through everyday observations of childhood themes, overseas travel and urban life.

Text from the Geelong Gallery website

 

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Spowers & Syme' at the Geelong Art Gallery

Installation view of the exhibition 'Spowers & Syme' at the Geelong Art Gallery

Installation view of the exhibition 'Spowers & Syme' at the Geelong Art Gallery

Installation view of the exhibition 'Spowers & Syme' at the Geelong Art Gallery

Installation view of the exhibition 'Spowers & Syme' at the Geelong Art Gallery

Installation view of the exhibition 'Spowers & Syme' at the Geelong Art Gallery

 

Installation views of the exhibition Spowers & Syme at the Geelong Art Gallery
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Photographer unknown. 'Portrait of Miss EL Spowers, a passenger on board the 'Orama'' 19 March 1935 (installation view)

 

Photographer unknown
Portrait of Miss EL Spowers, a passenger on board the ‘Orama’ (installation view)
19 March 1935
Fremantle
Reproduction courtesy of The West Australian, Perth
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Photographer unknown. 'Miss Eveline W. Syme, who is in charge of the library section of the Australian Red Cross Society, is seen displaying a typical parcel of books as sent out to hospitals, convalescent depots etc. This parcel contains about forty units, covering a wide range of literature' 13 May 1943 (installation view)

 

Photographer unknown
Miss Eveline W. Syme, who is in charge of the library section of the Australian Red Cross Society, is seen displaying a typical parcel of books as sent out to hospitals, convalescent depots etc. This parcel contains about forty units, covering a wide range of literature (installation view)
13 May 1943
Melbourne
Reproduction courtesy of the Australian War Memorial, Canberra
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'The gust of wind' 1931 (installation view)

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
The gust of wind (installation view)
1931
Melbourne
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from four blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1976
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'The gust of wind' 1931

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
The gust of wind
1931
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1976

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'Special edition' 1936 (installation view)

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
Special edition (installation view)
1936
Melbourne
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from four blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1976
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Raised in Toorak society, Ethel Spowers was the second daughter of William Spewers, an Aotearoa New Zealand-born journalist and proprietor of The Argus and The Australasian newspapers. The Spowers family lived at Toorak House in St Georges Road. Eveline Syme was the first-born daughter of company director and pastoralist Joseph Syme, who was a partner in competing newspaper The Age until 1891. The Syme family lived at Rotherfield (now Sherwood Hall) in St Kilda. Eveline moved to Toorak in around 1927.

Wall text

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'Special edition' 1936 (installation view)

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
Special edition
1936
Melbourne
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from four blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1976
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'Melbourne from the river' c. 1924 (installation view)

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
Melbourne from the river (installation view)
c. 1924
Melbourne
Woodcut, printed in colour inks in the Japanese manner, from five blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1976
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

A sense of place is important to all of us. For Spowers and Syme, Melbourne (Naarm) was their home and held a special place in their hearts. In the 1920s, Melbourne was an important city. Lively and busy, it was also very accessible to the river and beautiful landmarks. The Yarra River (Birrarung) winding gently through the city and the industrial landscape at Yallourn were worthy subjects to focus on. Spowers’ earlier work Melbourne from the river c 1924 (below) was created looking at the river and is framed by spindly trees.

Text from the National Gallery of Australia website

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'Melbourne from the river' c. 1924 (installation view)

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
Melbourne from the river (installation view)
c. 1924
Melbourne
Woodcut, printed in colour inks in the Japanese manner, from five blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1976
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'Melbourne from the river' c. 1924

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
Melbourne from the river
c. 1924
Melbourne
Woodcut, printed in colour inks in the Japanese manner, from five blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1976

 

Eveline Syme (Australian, 1888-1961) 'Banks of the Yarra' 1935 (installation view)

 

Eveline Syme (Australian, 1888-1961)
Banks of the Yarra (installation view)
1935
Melbourne
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from three blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Eveline Syme (Australian, 1888-1961) 'Banks of the Yarra' 1935

 

Eveline Syme (Australian, 1888-1961)
Banks of the Yarra
1935
Melbourne
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from three blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra

 

Eveline Syme (Australian, 1888-1961) 'The bay' 1932 (installation view)

Eveline Syme (Australian, 1888-1961) 'The bay' 1932 (installation view)

 

Eveline Syme (Australian, 1888-1961)
The bay (installation views)
1932
Melbourne
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from four blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1977
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Eveline Syme (Australian, 1888-1961) 'The bay' 1932

 

Eveline Syme (Australian, 1888-1961)
The bay
1932
Melbourne
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from four blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1977

 

 

Geelong Gallery is delighted to present National Gallery of Australia Touring Exhibition, Spowers & Syme opening on Saturday 16 July 2022.

Celebrating the artistic friendship of Melbourne artists Ethel Spowers and Eveline Syme, the Know My Name touring exhibition presents the changing
face of interwar Australia through the perspective of two pioneering women artists.

The National Gallery’s Curator of Australian Prints and Drawings, Dr Sarina Noordhuis-Fairfax hopes that Geelong and Victorian audiences will add the
names Spowers and Syme to their knowledge of ground-breaking women artists from the era including Margaret Preston, Thea Proctor, Dorrit Black and Grace Cossington Smith.

‘Spowers and Syme are often overlooked in Australian art history, yet during the 1930s they were recognised by peers as being among the most progressive artists working in Melbourne.’

‘Exhibiting in Australia and England, they championed key ideas from European modernism such as contemporary art reflecting the pace and vitality of life,’ said Noordhuis-Fairfax.

Much-loved for their dynamic approach to lino and woodcut prints, Spowers & Syme offers rare insights into the creative alliance between the daughters of rival media families from Melbourne-based newspapers The Argus and The Age. After studying art together in Paris and London, Spowers and Syme returned to the conservative art world of Australia where they became enthusiastic exponents of modern art during the 1930s and 1940s.

Geelong Galley Director & CEO, Jason Smith says ‘We look forward to sharing the important works of Spowers and Syme and exploring their contributions further through a number of public and education programs. Spowers & Syme will be further contextualised by modernist works by women artists in our Geelong permanent collection including a major survey of printmaker, Barbara Brash.

Press release from the Geelong Art Gallery

 

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'Balloons' c. 1920

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
Balloons
c. 1920
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Gift of Chris Montgomery 1993

 

Eveline Syme (Australian, 1888-1961) 'The factory' 1933 (installation view)

 

Eveline Syme (Australian, 1888-1961)
The factory (installation view)
1933
Melbourne
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from four blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1979
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Eveline Syme (Australian, 1888-1961) 'The factory' 1933

 

Eveline Syme (Australian, 1888-1961)
The factory
1933
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1979

 

Eveline Syme (Australian, 1888-1961) 'Beginners' class' 1956

 

Eveline Syme (Australian, 1888-1961)
Beginners’ class
1956
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1992

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'Drawing for the linocut 'School is out'' 1936 (installation view)

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
Drawing for the linocut ‘School is out’ (installation view)
1936
Melbourne
Drawing in pen and black ink over pencil
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Gift of Chris Montgomery 1993
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

At the end of 1936 Spowers held her sixth and final solo exhibition. It was a survey of old favourites and new works, spanning a decade of imagination and experimentation. Among the twenty prints and six watercolours shown at Grosvenor Galleries in Sydney were five fresh linocuts: Kites, Football, School is out, Children’s hoops and Special edition. These works were a return to her most treasured themes: children and family.

Wall text

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'School is out' 1936

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
School is out
1936
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1976

 

 

Ethel Spowers and Eveline Syme captured the joy and dynamism of movement in sport and play. Through colour, pattern and intersecting lines we see the speed and energy of children skipping, running, reaching to catch a ball and the pace of skaters circling the rink in the icy coldness. Who could forget the wonderful feeling of swinging as high as possible, looking down at the world?

Spowers’ images of children playing are reminiscent of her own childhood and have a whimsical charm about them. They capture the sense of wonder and curiosity seen in young children.

Linoleum (lino) was a floor covering that was invented in 1860. Imaginative artists discovered how effective it was for creating prints. With the right tools, it was easy to carve an image into it and make prints using coloured inks on the exposed surface.

Anonymous text. “Play and Games – Spowers & Syme: Primary School Learning Resource,” on the National Gallery of Australia website Nd [Online] Cited 29/08/2022

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'The bamboo blind' 1926

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
The bamboo blind
1926
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1976

 

 

Ethel Louise Spowers (1890-1947), painter and printmaker, was born on 11 July 1890 at South Yarra, Melbourne, second of six children of William George Lucas Spowers, a newspaper proprietor from New Zealand, and his London-born wife Annie Christina, née Westgarth. Allan Spowers was her only brother. She was educated at the Church of England Girls’ Grammar School, Melbourne, and was a prefect in 1908. Wealthy and cultured, her family owned a mansion in St Georges Road, Toorak. Ethel continued to live there as an adult and maintained a studio above the stables.

After briefly attending art school in Paris, Miss Spowers undertook (1911-1917) the full course in drawing and painting at Melbourne’s National Gallery schools. Her first solo exhibition, held in 1920 at the Decoration Galleries in the city, showed fairy-tale drawings influenced by the work of Ida Outhwaite. In 1921-1924 Spowers worked and studied abroad, at the Regent Street Polytechnic, London, and the Académie Ranson, Paris. She exhibited (1921) with fellow Australian artist Mary Reynolds at the Macrae Gallery, London. Two further solo shows (1925 and 1927) at the New Gallery, Melbourne, confirmed her reputation as an illustrator of fairy tales, though by then she was also producing woodcuts and linocuts inspired by Japanese art and covering a broader range of subjects.

A dramatic change in Spowers’ style occurred in 1929 when she studied under Claude Flight (the leading exponent of the modernist linocut) at the Grosvenor School of Modern Art, London. Her close friend Eveline Syme joined her there. Following further classes in 1931, during which Spowers absorbed modernist ideas of rhythmic design and composition from the principal Iain Macnab, she published an account of the Grosvenor School in the Recorder (Melbourne, 1932). In the 1930s her linocuts attracted critical attention for their bold, simplified forms, rhythmic sense of movement, distinctive use of colour and humorous observation of everyday life, particularly the world of children. They were regularly shown at the Redfern Gallery, London. The British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum purchased a number of her linocuts.

Stimulated by Flight’s proselytising zeal for the medium, Spowers organised in 1930 an exhibition of linocuts by Australian artists, among them Syme and Dorrit Black, at Everyman’s Library and Bookshop, Melbourne. A founding member (1932-1938) of George Bell‘s Contemporary Group, Spowers defended the modernist movement against its detractors. In an article in the Australasian on 26 April 1930 she called on ‘all lovers of art to be tolerant to new ideas, and not to condemn without understanding’.

Frances Derham remembered Spowers as being ‘tall, slender and graceful’, with ‘a small head, dark hair and grey eyes’. A rare photograph of Spowers, published in the Bulletin (3 September 1925), revealed her fashionable appearance and reflective character. In the late 1930s she stopped practising as an artist due to ill health, but continued her voluntary work at the Children’s Hospital. She died of cancer on 5 May 1947 in East Melbourne and was buried with Anglican rites in Fawkner cemetery. Although she had destroyed many of her paintings in a bonfire, a memorial exhibition of her watercolours, line-drawings, wood-engravings and colour linocuts was held at George’s Gallery, Melbourne, in 1948. Her prints are held by the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, State galleries in Melbourne and Sydney, and the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery, Victoria.

Stephen Coppel. “Spowers, Ethel Louise (1890-1947),” in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16 , 2002, online in 2006 [Online] Cited 26/08/2022

 

Eveline Syme (Australian, 1888-1961) 'The Yarra at Warrandyte' 1931 (installation view)

Eveline Syme (Australian, 1888-1961) 'The Yarra at Warrandyte' 1931 (installation view)

 

Eveline Syme (Australian, 1888-1961)
The Yarra at Warrandyte (installation views)
1931
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1977
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Eveline Syme (Australian, 1888-1961) 'The Yarra at Warrandyte' 1931

 

Eveline Syme (Australian, 1888-1961)
The Yarra at Warrandyte
1931
Melbourne
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from four blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1977

 

 

Eveline Winifred Syme (1888-1961), painter and printmaker, was born on 26 October 1888 at Thames Ditton, Surrey, England, daughter of Joseph Cowen Syme, newspaper proprietor, and his wife Laura, née Blair. Ebenezer Syme was her grandfather. Eveline was raised in the family mansion at St Kilda, Melbourne. After leaving the Church of England Girls’ Grammar School, Melbourne, she voyaged to England and studied classics in 1907-1910 at Newnham College, Cambridge (B.A., M.A., 1930). Because the University of Cambridge did not then award degrees to women, she applied to the University of Melbourne for accreditation, but was only granted admission to third-year classics. She chose instead to complete a diploma of education (1914).

Syme’s artistic career was enhanced by her close friendship with Ethel Spowers. She studied painting at art schools in Paris in the early 1920s, notably under Maurice Denis and André Lhote, and held a solo exhibition, mainly of watercolours, at Queen’s Hall, Melbourne, in 1925. Her one-woman shows, at the Athenaeum Gallery (1928) and Everyman’s Library and Bookshop (1931), included linocuts and wood-engravings. While many of her watercolours and prints drew on her travels through England, Provence, France, and Tuscany, Italy, she also responded to the Australian landscape, particularly the countryside around Melbourne and Sydney, and at Port Arthur, Tasmania. Syme’s chance discovery of Claude Flight’s textbook, Lino-Cuts (London, 1927), inspired her to enrol (with Spowers) in his classes at the Grosvenor School of Modern Art, London, in January 1929. In keeping with Flight’s modernist conception of the linocut, she began to produce prints incorporating bold colour and rhythmic design.

Returning to Melbourne in 1929 with an exhibition of contemporary wood-engravings from the Redfern Gallery, London, Syme became a cautious advocate of modern art. She published a perceptive account of Flight and his teaching in the Recorder (1929) and spoke on the radio about wood-engraving; she also wrote a pioneering essay on women artists in Victoria from 1857, which was published in the Centenary Gift Book (1934), edited by Frances Fraser and Nettie Palmer. Syme was a founding member (1932-1938) of George Bell‘s Contemporary Group. She regularly exhibited with the Melbourne Society of Women Painters and Sculptors and with the Independent Group of Artists. Her linocuts, perhaps her most significant achievement, owed much to her collaboration with Spowers.

During the mid-1930s Syme was prominent in moves to establish a women’s residential college at the University of Melbourne. In 1936, as vice-president of the appeal committee, she donated the proceeds of her print retrospective (held at the gallery of the Arts and Crafts Society of Victoria) to the building fund. A foundation member (1936-1961) of the council of University Women’s College, she served as its president (1940-1947) and as a member of its finance committee. She was appointed to the first council of the National Gallery Society of Victoria in 1947 and sat on its executive-committee in 1948-1953. In addition, she was a member (1919) and president (1950-1951) of the Lyceum Club.

A tall, elegant and reserved woman, Syme had a ‘crisp, quick voice’ and a ‘rather abrupt manner’. She died on 6 June 1961 at Richmond and was buried with Presbyterian forms in Brighton cemetery. In her will she left her books and £5000 to University Women’s College. Edith Alsop’s portrait (1932) of Syme is held by University College. Syme’s work is represented in the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, State galleries in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide, and the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery, Victoria.

Stephen Coppel. “Syme, Eveline Winifred (1888-1961),” in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16 , 2002, online in 2006 [Online] Cited 26/08/2022

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Spowers & Syme' at the Geelong Art Gallery

 

Installation view of the exhibition Spowers & Syme at the Geelong Art Gallery showing at top left, Spowers The timber crane (1926, below); at top right, Spowers The plough (1928, below); at bottom left, Spowers The works, Yallourn (1933, below); and at bottom right, Spowers The lonely farm (1933, below)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'The timber crane' 1926 (installation view)

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
The timber crane (installation view)
1926
Melbourne
Linocut, printed in colour inks in the Japanese manner, from five blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1976
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'The plough' 1928 (installation view)

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
The plough (installation view)
1928
London
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from three blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1978
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'The plough' 1928

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
The plough
1928
London
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from three blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1978

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'The works, Yallourn' 1933

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
The works, Yallourn
1933
Linocut
15.7 x 34.8cm (printed image)
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1976

 

Eveline Syme (Australian, 1888-1961) 'Bulla Bridge' 1934

 

Eveline Syme (Australian, 1888-1961)
Bulla Bridge
1934
Wood engraving
10.1 x 14.7cm (printed image)
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1977

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'The lonely farm' 1933 (installation view)

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'The lonely farm' 1933 (installation view)

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
The lonely farm (installation views)
1933
Melbourne
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from five blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1976
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'Harvest' 1932 (installation view)

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
Harvest (installation view)
1932
Melbourne
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from five blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1976
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'Harvest' 1932

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
Harvest
1932
Melbourne
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from five blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1976

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'The joke' 1932 (installation view)

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'The joke' 1932 (installation view)

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
The joke (installation views)
1932
Melbourne
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from four blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1976
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'The joke' 1932

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
The joke
1932
Melbourne
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from four blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1976

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'The island of the dead' 1927 (installation view)

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
The island of the dead (installation view)
1927
Melbourne
Linocut, printed in colour inks in the Japanese manner, from seven blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1995
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

In January 1927 Spowers and Syme holidayed in Iutruwita / Tasmania. After they visited the penal settlement at Port Arthur, Spowers produced this view of the nearby cemetery of Point Puer. Following this trip, Syme made a monochrome wood-engraving, The ruins, Port Arthur c. 1927

Wall text

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'The island of the dead' 1927

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
The island of the dead
1927
Melbourne
Linocut, printed in colour inks in the Japanese manner, from seven blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1995

 

Eveline Syme (Australian, 1888-1961) 'Skating' 1929 (installation view)

 

Eveline Syme (Australian, 1888-1961)
Skating (installation view)
1929
London
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from two blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1979
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

When Syme joined Spowers at the Grosvenor School of Modern Art in January 1929 she made the two-block linocut Skating, which summarises Claude Flight’s teachings on how a composition ‘builds into a geometrical pattern of opposing rhythms’. Her design is simplified, using the repetition of intersecting lines and curves to suggest action. Although the skaters are frozen mid-turn, the print is filled with light and movement, with Syme’s humorous suggestion of novice efforts captured in awkwardly angled arms and legs.

Wall text

 

Eveline Syme (Australian, 1888-1961) 'Skating' 1929

 

Eveline Syme (Australian, 1888-1961)
Skating
1929
London
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from two blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1979

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'Fox and geese' 1933 (installation view)

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
Fox and geese (installation view)
1933
Melbourne
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from five blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1978
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'Fox and geese' 1933

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
Fox and geese
1933
Melbourne
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from five blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1978

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'Football' 1936 (installation view)

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
Football (installation view)
1936
Melbourne
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from four blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1982
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'Tug of war' 1933 (installation view)

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
Tug of war (installation view)
1933
Melbourne
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from four blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1976
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'Tug of war' 1933

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
Tug of war
1933
Melbourne
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from four blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1976

 

 

Ethel Spowers and Eveline Syme were lifelong friends who inspired and encouraged each another in their artistic pursuits. They were pioneers in printmaking and modern art and their careers reflected the changing circumstances of women after World War 1. Spowers and Syme were among a core group of progressive Australian artists who travelled widely and studied with avant-garde artists. They were at the forefront of Modernism in Australia.

Both women grew up in Melbourne in very comfortable circumstances. Their fathers ran rival newspapers, so their families had many common interests. Spowers’ father was involved with The Argus and The Australasian, while Syme’s father helped run The Age. Both families were dedicated to many causes and generous in their efforts to help others. They also supported war efforts and the Red Cross.

Spowers was the second child of six siblings and her home life was filled with rich and varied creative experiences. Her family lived in a large home in inner Melbourne called Toorak House, a graceful mansion with large gardens to play in and explore. Syme was also one of six siblings and lived nearby in a large house in St Kilda called Rotherfield.

Spowers and Syme studied and travelled together in Australia and overseas. Both were inspired by the artist Claude Flight who taught them at the Grosvenor School in London. He encouraged his students to capture the joy of movement through colour and rhythmic line and the new method of colour linocut printing. Spowers and Syme became strong supporters of being brave as artists, prepared to experiment and promote new ways of doing and seeing.

Throughout their lives the two friends advocated for important causes. Spowers’ focus was always on the welfare of children through her involvement in kindergarten education and volunteering at the local children’s hospital. Syme was particularly dedicated to the advancement of women’s university education.

Anonymous text. “About the Artists – Spowers & Syme: Primary School Learning Resource,” on the National Gallery of Australia website Nd [Online] Cited 29/09/2022

 

Eveline Syme (Australian, 1888-1961) 'San Domenico, Siena' 1931 (installation view)

Eveline Syme (Australian, 1888-1961) 'San Domenico, Siena' 1931 (installation view)

 

Eveline Syme (Australian, 1888-1961)
San Domenico, Siena (installation view)
1931
Melbourne
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from four blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1977
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

An inveterate traveller, Syme produced drawings and watercolours of landscape views from her trips around Victoria, her voyages to England via Colombo, and her travels through Europe, Japan, Hong Kong and the United States of America. In addition to exhibiting her watercolours, Syme often used these compositions as the basis for subsequent prints and oil paintings.

Wall text

 

Eveline Syme (Australian, 1888-1961) 'Hong Kong harbour' 1934 (installation view)

Eveline Syme (Australian, 1888-1961) 'Hong Kong harbour' 1934 (installation view)

 

Eveline Syme (Australian, 1888-1961)
Hong Kong harbour (installation views)
1934
Melbourne
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from four blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1976
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'Swings' 1932 (installation view)

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
Swings (installation view)
1932
Melbourne
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from four blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1976
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'Swings' 1932

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
Swings
1932
Melbourne
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from four blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1976

 

Eveline Syme (Australian, 1888-1961) 'Sydney tram line' 1936 (installation view)

Eveline Syme (Australian, 1888-1961) 'Sydney tram line' 1936 (installation view)

 

Eveline Syme (Australian, 1888-1961)
Sydney tram line (installation views)
1936
Melbourne
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from three blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1979
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Powers and Syme were associated with numerous art and social group, which established intersecting circles of connection and opportunity in Melbourne and Sydney. During the 1930s they both exhibited in Sydney with other progressive artists at Dorrit Black’s Modern Art Centre and with the Contemporary Group co-founded by Thea Proctor. This print is based on an earlier watercolour by Syme, drawn after staying with Spowers’ sister at Double Bay in 1932.

Wall text

 

Eveline Syme (Australian, 1888-1961) 'Sydney tram line' 1936

 

Eveline Syme (Australian, 1888-1961)
Sydney tram line
1936
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1979
© Estate of Eveline Syme

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'Still life' 1925 (installation view)

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
Still life (installation view)
1925
Melbourne
Wood-engraving, printed in black ink, from one block
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1981
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'The noisy parrot' 1926 (installation view)

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
The noisy parrot (installation view)
1926
Melbourne
Woodcut, printed in colour inks in the Japanese manner, from five blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 2015
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'The noisy parrot' 1926

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
The noisy parrot
1926
Melbourne
Woodcut, printed in colour inks in the Japanese manner, from five blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 2015

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'Wet afternoon' 1930 (installation view)

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
Wet afternoon (installation view)
1930
Melbourne
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from four blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1983
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

In July 1930 Claude Flight included this print in British lino-cuts, the second annual exhibition held at the Redfern Gallery in London. Impressions were acquired by the Victoria & Albert museum and the British Museum. Wet afternoon was exhibited again in September at the annual exhibition of the Arts and Crafts Society of Victoria at Melbourne Town Hall and in the first exhibition of linocuts in Australia held in December at Everyman’s Lending Library in the centre of avant-garde Melbourne.

Wall text

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'Wet afternoon' 1930

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
Wet afternoon
1930
Melbourne
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from four blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1983

 

 

Prints, pigments & poison

The vibrant works by Ethel Spowers and Eveline Syme, printed on smooth Japanese gampi papers from 1927 to 1950, demanded special consideration during conservation preparation from the Spowers & Syme exhibition. Andrea Wise, Senior Conservator, Paper, explains the process and details the green pigment with the toxic backstory. …

The typical palette in Spowers & Syme works feature carbon black, yellow and brown ochres, ultramarine, cobalt and cerulean blues, emerald green and two organic lake pigments – alizarin crimson and a distinct lilac. Lake pigments are made by attaching a dye to a base material such as alumina, making a dyestuff into a workable particulate pigment. This process can also extend more expensive dyestuffs, making them cheaper to use. Bound with oil to create printer’s inks, this limited palette was then overprinted to achieve a wider range of colours.

Emerald green commonly recurs throughout the works. A highly toxic vivid green, invented in the 19th century, it was still commercially available until the early 1960s. Many historical pigments are toxic, based on arsenic, mercury and lead.

Today we are increasingly aware of the health and safety issues related to work of art, but this was not always the case. Emerald green belongs to a group of copper acetoarsenate pigments that were extensively used for many household goods including furniture and wallpapers. A similar pigment, Scheele’s green, was used on the wallpaper in Napoleon’s apartments on St Helena and has been suggested as the cause of his death. Large amounts of arsenic (100 times that of a living person) were found on Napoleon’s hair and scalp after he had died. While poisoning theories still abound, it has been confirmed through other medical cases from the period that arsenic dust and fumes would be circulated in damp Victorian rooms sealed tight against the drafts that were thought to promote ill health.

Anonymous text. “Prints, pigments & poison,” on the National Gallery of Australia website Nov 18, 2021 [Online] Cited 30/08/2022

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'Children's Hoops' 1935

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
Children’s Hoops
1935
Melbourne
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from five blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'Bank holiday' 1935 (installation view)

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
Bank holiday (installation view)
1935
Melbourne
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from six blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1976
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'Bank holiday' 1935

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
Bank holiday
1935
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1976

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'The Junior Red Cross works in every land' 1941 (installation view)

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
The Junior Red Cross works in every land (installation view)
Linocut, printed in colour, from six blocks
Reproduced in Joan and Daryl Lindsay
The story of the Red Cross Melbourne, 1941
National Gallery of Australia Research Library
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Powers made one final linocut print around 1941 for inclusion in a published history of the Australian Red Cross Society compiled by Joan and Daryl Lindsay. The Spowers family had a long philanthropic connection with this cause, and Eveline Syme became the first chairperson of the Red Cross Society Picture Library. Reproduced as a lithographic illustration, the long narrow composition is based on the picnicking families in Spowers’ earlier linocut Bank holiday 1935 (see above).

Wall text

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) 'Cuthbert and the dogs' c. 1947 (installation view)

 

Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
Cuthbert and the dogs (installation view)
c. 1947
Digest Juvenile Productions, Melbourne
National Gallery of Australia Research Library
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

After being diagnosed with breast cancer in the mid-1930s, Spowers stopped printmaking and began a series of short stories for children. During the last decade of her life, she wrote and illustrated at least seven books. Their charm drew on stories the Spowers siblings wrote together as children, yet these were cautionary tales in which youthful characters were often reformed by the results of their actions. Of these, only Cuthbert and the dogs was published.

Wall text

 

Grosvenor School of Modern Art

This progressive private school was established in 1925 by Scottish wood-engraver Iain Macnab at 33 Warwick Square in Pimlico. Formerly the London studio and house of Scottish portraitist James Rannie Swinton, the ground-floor interior was repurposed into studios for tuition in drawing, painting and composition, with the basement set up for lithography, etching and block printing. With no entrance examinations or fixed terms, students could attend classes at any time by purchasing a book of fifteen tickets, with each ticket permitting entry to a two-hour session.

Merchant hand-selected a small team of similarly anti-academic staff, including Claude Flight. For five years Flight taught weekly afternoon classes on colour linocuts. He emphasised that art must capture the vitality of the machine age and taught his students a new way of seeing that analysed the activities of urban life and condensed these into dynamic compositions bursting with rhythm and energy.

 

Frank Weitzel (New Zealand, 1905 - England 1932) 'Slum street' c. 1929 (installation view)

 

Frank Weitzel (New Zealand, 1905 – England 1932)
Slum street (installation view)
c. 1929
Sydney
Linocut, printed in black ink, from one block
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1993
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

The son of German immigrants, Weitzel has a volatile upbringing in Aotearoa New Zealand where his father interned as an enemy alien. At the age of 16, Wentzel emigrated with his mother to the united States of America, where he studied sculpture in California. After travels through Europe, he relocated to Sydney in 1928 were he produced a series of linocuts in response to the city and was invited by Dorrit Black to exhibit with the Group of Seven. Black arranged for Wentzel to meet Claude Flight in London in 1930; Flight included his prints in the annual linocut exhibitions at Redfern Gallery in 1930 and 1931.

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Frank Weitzel was known mainly as a sculptor but in his studio over Grubb’s butcher shop at Circular Quay, he worked in the tradition of the artist-craftsman, producing linocut batik shawls and wall-hangings, lamp shades, book-ends etc. He also played violin in the Conservatorium Orchestra and designed a modern room (with Henry Pynor) at the Burdekin House Exhibition in 1929. In 1931, looking for work in London he sought out David Garnett, a publisher and member of the Bloomsbury Group of artist-craftsman. While Garnett was not interested in Weitzel’s drawings for publication, he became an admirer of his sculpture and invited Weitzel to care-take his property ‘Hilton Hall’ and commissioned him to do heads of children. Weitzel came to be praised also by Jacob Epstein, Roger Fry, Paul Nash and Duncan Grant. Garnett describes Weitzel in his autobiography as “small, thin, with frizzy hair which stood piled up on his head, blue-eyed, with a beaky nose. I guessed he was not eating enough… He was proletarian, rather helpless, very eager about art and also about communism”. At around this time Weitzel wrote to Colin Simpson back in Australia, “Now I am working on a show of my own which is being arranged for me by some terrific money bags”. The exhibition was never held. Weitzel contracted tetanus apparently from minerals which got under his finger nails while digging for clay for his sculptures. He died on the 22 February 1932 at the age of 26. A posthumous exhibition was organised by Dorrit Black at the Modern Art Centre, 56 Margaret Street, Sydney, on the 7 June 1933- opened by another supporter of modernism, the artist John D. Moore. The works had been brought back to Sydney by Weitzel’s sister Mary, who had travelled to England to collect them. This small show (41 works) included illustrations to a poem by Weitzel, poster designs for the Empire Marketing Board, Underground Railways, Shell Motor Spirit, Barclay’s Lager and the Predential Insurance Company, as well as sculpture, drawings and linocuts which had been exhibited with Grosvenor School artists in London.

Anonymous text. “Frank Weitzel (1905-1932),” on the Christie’s website Nd [Online] Cited 28/08/2022

 

Lill Tschudi (Swiss, 1911-2004) 'Fixing the wires' 1932 (installation view)

 

Lill Tschudi (Swiss, 1911-2004)
Fixing the wires (installation view)
1932
London
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from two blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Gift of the artist 1990
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

In December 1929, at the age of 18, Tschudi enrolled at the Grosvenor School of Modern Art where she studied under Claude Flight for six months. She also studied in Paris with progressive teachers including André Lhote. Flight was a lifelong supporter of Tschudi and using Fixing the wires as an empale in his 1934 textbook on linocut techniques nothing that ‘the most important point to consider … is the arrangement whereby each colour block is considered as a space-filling whole, as well as part of the final composition made up of the superimposition of all the colour harmonies’.

Wall text

 

Lill Tschudi (Swiss, 1911-2004) 'Fixing the wires' 1932

 

Lill Tschudi (Swiss, 1911-2004)
Fixing the wires
1932
London
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from two blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Gift of the artist 1990

 

Claude Flight (English, 1881-1955) 'Brooklands' c. 1929 (installation view)

 

Claude Flight (English, 1881-1955)
Brooklands (installation view)
c. 1929
London
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from four blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1978
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

At the Grosvenor School of Modern Art in London, Claude Flight taught his students the art of the modern colour linocut. He emphasised the importance of composition, building his images of urban life out of simplified form and pattern. Flight’s own practice drew on an exciting mix of avant-garde ideas: from the abstraction of British Vorticism to the dynamism of Italian Futurism to the bold geometric energy of Art Deco and the Arts and Crafts Movement’s emphasis on the handmade.

Wall text

 

Claude Flight (English, 1881-1955) 'Brooklands' c. 1929

 

Claude Flight (English, 1881-1955)
Brooklands
c. 1929
London
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from four blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1978

 

Sybil Andrews (English-Canadian, 1898-1992) 'Speedway' 1934 (installation view)

 

Sybil Andrews (English-Canadian, 1898-1992)
Speedway (installation view)
1934
London
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from four blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1978
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Andrews first studied art by correspondence while working as a welder at an airbase in bristol during the First World War. After meeting her mentor Cyril Power in Bury St Edmonds, they moved to London to study art before Andrews joined the Grosvenor School of Modern Art as a school secretary. Like Flight, Andrews and Power believed that art should reflect the spirit of the time. Andrews showed her work in joint exhibitions with Power at Redfern Gallery, and often explored the them of manual about. She left London in 1938 and emigrated to Canada with her husband Walter Morgan in 1947, where she eventually established a practice as artist and teacher.

Wall text

 

Sybil Andrews (English-Canadian, 1898-1992) 'Speedway' 1934

 

Sybil Andrews (English-Canadian, 1898-1992)
Speedway
1934
London
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from four blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1978

 

Cyril E Power (English, 1872-1951) 'Skaters' c. 1932 and Sybil Andrews (English-Canadian, 1898-1992) 'The winch' 1930 (installation view)

 

Cyril E Power (English, 1872-1951)
Skaters (installation view)
c. 1932
London
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from three blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1978

Sybil Andrews (English-Canadian, 1898-1992)
The winch (installation view)
1930
London
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from three blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1978
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Sybil Andrews (English-Canadian, 1898-1992) 'The winch' 1930 (installation view)

 

Sybil Andrews (English-Canadian, 1898-1992)
The winch (installation view)
1930
London
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from three blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1978
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Sybil Andrews (English-Canadian, 1898-1992) 'The winch' 1930

 

Sybil Andrews (English-Canadian, 1898-1992)
The winch
1930
London
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from three blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Purchased 1978

 

George Bell (Australian, 1876-1966) 'The departure' 1931 (installation view)

 

George Bell (Australian, 1876-1966)
The departure (installation view)
1931
Melbourne
Linocut, printed in colour inks, from three blocks
National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra
Gift of Mrs B Niven 1988
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Geelong Art Gallery
Little Malop Street
Geelong, Victoria
Australia 3220
Phone: +61 3 5229 3645

Opening hours:
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06
Oct
22

Exhibition: ‘Sheroes of Photography Part IV: Sibylle Bergemann’ at Kicken Berlin

Exhibition dates: 24th June – 7th October 2022

 

Sibylle Bergemann (German, 1941-2010) 'Schöneweide, Berlin' 1972, printed c. 1972

 

Sibylle Bergemann (German, 1941-2010)
Schöneweide, Berlin
1972, printed c. 1972
Gelatin silver print
22.8 x 34cm
© Nachlass Sibylle Bergemann; Ostkreuz / Courtesy Kicken Berlin

 

 

This exhibition finishes tomorrow, Friday 7th October 2022.

I adore the small intimacies and dark German noir of the early 1970s – 1980s photographs of East Berlin and New York – papier-mâché models dancing, shop windows, desolate buildings, bound statues, ballroom encounters and alienated human beings. The photographs have a very pared back aesthetic, a very cool hands off, socialist feel to them.

Masks upon masks upon masks and hostile glances. People lonely, unhappy and isolated, rushing for work with nary a thought for each other. And then the ecstasy and fear of Mauerpark, Berlin (1996, below).

Taking the position of a slightly aloof observer, Bergemann’s urban landscapes and street scenes bare melancholy and beauty. The poetics of the everyday.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to Kicken Berlin for allowing me to publish the photographs in this post. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Sibylle Bergemann (German, 1941-2010) 'Untitled (Mitte)' 1968, printed c. 1968

 

Sibylle Bergemann (German, 1941-2010)
Untitled (Mitte)
1968, printed c. 1968
Gelatin silver print
26.5 x 17.8 cm
© Nachlass Sibylle Bergemann; Ostkreuz / Courtesy Kicken Berlin

 

Sibylle Bergemann (German, 1941-2010) 'Katharina Thalbach, Berlin' 1973, early print

 

Sibylle Bergemann (German, 1941-2010)
Katharina Thalbach, Berlin
1973, early print
Gelatin silver print
38.6 x 26cm
© Nachlass Sibylle Bergemann; Ostkreuz / Courtesy Kicken Berlin

 

 

Katharina Thalbach (German, actually Katharina Joachim genannt Thalbach, born 19 January 1954) is a German actress and stage director. She played theatre at the Berliner Ensemble and at the Volksbühne Berlin, and was actress in the film The Tin Drum. She worked as a theatre and opera director.

 

Sibylle Bergemann (German, 1941-2010) 'Berlin' 1975, printed c. 1975

 

Sibylle Bergemann (German, 1941-2010)
Berlin
1975, printed c. 1975
Gelatin silver print
29.1 x 20cm
© Nachlass Sibylle Bergemann; Ostkreuz / Courtesy Kicken Berlin

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Sheroes of Photography Part IV: Sibylle Bergemann' at Kicken Berlin

 

Installation view of the exhibition Sheroes of Photography Part IV: Sibylle Bergemann at Kicken Berlin showing at left, Bergemann’s Kirsten, Hoppenrade (1975, below)

 

Sibylle Bergemann (German, 1941-2010) 'Kirsten, Hoppenrade' 1975, posthumous print 2016

 

Sibylle Bergemann (German, 1941-2010)
Kirsten, Hoppenrade
1975, posthumous print 2016
Gelatin silver print
29.1 x 43.3cm
© Nachlass Sibylle Bergemann; Ostkreuz / Courtesy Kicken Berlin

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Sheroes of Photography Part IV: Sibylle Bergemann' at Kicken Berlin

 

Installation view of the exhibition Sheroes of Photography Part IV: Sibylle Bergemann at Kicken Berlin showing photographs from Sibylle Bergemann’s Clärchens Ballhaus (1976, some photographs below)

 

Sibylle Bergemann (German, 1941-2010) 'Untitled' 1976, early print From the series 'Clärchens Ballhaus'

 

Sibylle Bergemann (German, 1941-2010)
Untitled
1976, early print
From the series Clärchens Ballhaus
Gelatin silver print
17 x 23.4cm
© Nachlass Sibylle Bergemann; Ostkreuz / Courtesy Kicken Berlin

 

Sibylle Bergemann (German, 1941-2010) 'Untitled' 1976, early print From the series 'Clärchens Ballhaus'

 

Sibylle Bergemann (German, 1941-2010)
Untitled
1976, early print
From the series Clärchens Ballhaus
Gelatin silver print
17.4 x 25.9cm
© Nachlass Sibylle Bergemann; Ostkreuz / Courtesy Kicken Berlin

 

Sibylle Bergemann (German, 1941-2010) 'Untitled' 1976, early print From the series 'Clärchens Ballhaus'

 

Sibylle Bergemann (German, 1941-2010)
Untitled
1976, early print
From the series Clärchens Ballhaus
Gelatin silver print
26.1 x 17.6cm
© Nachlass Sibylle Bergemann; Ostkreuz / Courtesy Kicken Berlin

 

Sibylle Bergemann (German, 1941-2010) 'Untitled' 1976, early print From the series 'Clärchens Ballhaus'

 

Sibylle Bergemann (German, 1941-2010)
Untitled
1976, early print
From the series Clärchens Ballhaus
Gelatin silver print
17.9 x 25.6cm
© Nachlass Sibylle Bergemann; Ostkreuz / Courtesy Kicken Berlin

 

Sibylle Bergemann (German, 1941-2010) 'Untitled' 1976, early print From the series 'Clärchens Ballhaus'

 

Sibylle Bergemann (German, 1941-2010)
Untitled
1976, early print
From the series Clärchens Ballhaus
Gelatin silver print
24.3 x 16.5cm
© Nachlass Sibylle Bergemann; Ostkreuz / Courtesy Kicken Berlin

 

Sibylle Bergemann (German, 1941-2010) 'Untitled' 1976, early print From the series 'Clärchens Ballhaus'

 

Sibylle Bergemann (German, 1941-2010)
Untitled
1976, early print
From the series Clärchens Ballhaus
Gelatin silver print
16.4 x 24.2cm
© Nachlass Sibylle Bergemann; Ostkreuz / Courtesy Kicken Berlin

 

Sibylle Bergemann (German, 1941-2010) 'Untitled' 1976, early print From the series 'Clärchens Ballhaus'

 

Sibylle Bergemann (German, 1941-2010)
Untitled
1976, early print
From the