The Lives and Loves of Images
29/02 – 26/04

(originally planned duration)

  • All Art is Photography

    Josh Murfitt, Parthenon 2019.1655, from the series A Creative Act, 2019

    Photography has two relations to art. It can be an art in itself – expressive, subjective, creative, inventive. It can be the mechanical means by which all the other visual arts – from painting and sculpture to performance – are documented, reproduced and publicized. What we know of art, we often know through photographic images of it. Paintings we have never seen in real life. Sculptures we have never walked around.
    In general, these two roles are kept separate, but photography and photographers are not respectful of boundaries. What happens when artistic photography takes the other arts as its subject matter? What can a camera do in a painter’s studio, in front of a sculpture, or in an art gallery full of people? This is what the exhibition All Art is Photography sets out to consider. Some of the photographic artists in this show reflect upon the cultural role of printed art books. Others concern themselves with looking again at physical spaces in which art is made and displayed. Others consider the camera’s complicated relation to paintings and sculptures as aesthetic objects.


    You will find the room list for download here.

  • Between Art and Commerce

    Scheltens & Abbenes, Cos, Collections, Light bulbs, 2012

    While photography is an art form, it does not belong exclusively to the world of art. It plays significant roles in all aspects of life and culture, and it is inevitable that these will overlap, have relations to each other, and also be in tension with each other.
    In many ways it was an acceptance of this complex relation between art and non-art that led to photography becoming fully modern in the 1920s and 30s. Photographers made images with ambiguity, understanding that they could mean different things in different contexts. Their work appeared in commercial settings and on the pages of avant-garde journals. Some photographers worked simultaneously in the fields of documentary, advertising, portraiture, fashion, scientific imaging, art and more.

    Between Art and Commerce looks at this complex situation through the work of several photographers. Each takes a different position. Here you will find an artist who makes images that are then used commercially; commercial photographers who also make art exhibitions; a photographer whose personal and commercial work is indistinguishable; an artist who makes photographic art about commercial photography; and a forerunner of all this who worked in the 1920s and 30s.


    You will find the room list for download here.

  • Reconsidering Icons

    Jojakim Cortis & Adrian Sonderegger, Making of "La Cour du Dumaine du Gras" (by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, 1826), from the series Icons, 2013

    We are all acutely aware of the phenomenon of the iconic image. Newspapers and news websites regularly describe photographs as ‘iconic’. And if a photograph does become well known, news outlets are quick to capitalize by running secondary stories about its fame, which only serves to extend the image’s reach and cultural domination. It is an echo chamber of the image, and a hall of mirrors.
    Of the billions of images in the world just a few have become iconic. The exhibition Reconsidering Icons contains no iconic images, and yet it is full of them. It draws together various projects from recent years that use strategies of remaking, revising and redefining. Some projects return to the site where iconic images were made. Some reconstruct them. Some track iconic images across their various media manifestations. Some use new technologies such as virtual reality and 3D modeling, to return us to images made in earlier epochs of photography. Whatever the strategy, the iconic image is approached as a complex form of cultural commons to be looked at critically, philosophically and playfully. If iconic images belong to the public imagination, we must have an imaginative relation to them.


    You will find the room list for download here.

  • Walker Evans Revisited

    George Georgiou, Mardi Gras Parade, from the series Americans Parade, Algiers, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, 06/02/2016

    Of all the celebrated photographers of the last century, the one who is most relevant today, and the one with the widest influence, is Walker Evans (1903 – 1975). Some of his images are among the best known in the history of the medium. Direct and generous, analytical, yet lyrical, carefully composed, but unforced, the ways in which he photographed left the door open for countless others to follow.
    He was also concerned with the idea that photographic meaning is related to context, text and relations between images, whether on the gallery wall or on the pages of books and magazines. To be in control of one’s photographs means being in control of how they are presented and circulated in the world. So, as well as being a remarkable image maker, Evans was also an editor, writer and designer.
    Walker Evans Revisited brings together two kinds of response from contemporary artists and photographers. Firstly, there is the continuation and extension of Evans’ ways of photographing everyday life. Secondly, the exhibition presents a variety of projects by artists responding very directly to particular images and projects by Evans. These range from appropriation and collage, to re-imaginings and homage.


    You will find the room list for download here.

  • When Images Collide

    Sohrab Hura, The Lost Head & The Bird, 2019 Film still, Single Channel Video, 10 Min

    Photography has always given rise to striking individual images, but in general it has been a medium of combination. Photographs are brought together to form larger and more complex propositions about the world. Series, archives, collections, albums, suites, sequences, stories, narratives.

    When visual culture was dominated by the printed page, the relations between images could be fixed. In the era of the electronic screen and the Internet, the daily experience of images often feels more like montage and collage: fragmentary, multi-directional and deferred. It is an environment suggestive of possible meanings but also one that distracts from resolution or conclusion.
    When Images Collide brings together a range of current practices that explore image combination. At the core is the diptych form, which is perhaps the building block of all editing, all image assembly. From here, the exhibition moves in several directions, toward complex collage in analogue and digital forms, toward the uses of the still image in film and video and toward 3D image sculpture and installation.


    You will find the room list for download here.

  • Yesterday's News Today

    Clare Strand, from the series Snake, 2017

    One of the primary tasks of the twenty-first century has been to make sense of the twentieth: to pick over its bones and discover small indications of what we have become. We sift that “pile of fragments of private images, against the creased background of massacres and coronations,” that the writer Italo Calvino concluded was “true, total photography”.

    Over the last decade, hundreds of thousands of old news photographs, most often 8x10 inch black and white prints, have been dumped for sale online. As newspapers struggle to survive, the old photographs in their archives are the first casualties. Most sell for just a few dollars to whoever might want them. Whatever their fate, this photographic material is finding itself in new contexts, to be re-thought by artists, acquired by collectors, examined by historians, and exhibited by curators.

    The current interest shown by artists in old news images is hybrid, somewhere between media archeology, history and image making. The old photos are reworked but also re-presented so we can see them, or encounter them again, in their strange new settings. What results is a sort of multi-temporality, in which the image is seen for what it was, for what it now is for the artist and viewer, and for what it could become in the future.

    On the occasion of the exhibition, the Biennale für aktuelle Fotografie takes a look at press photo archives in the region: „Die Rheinpfalz”, „Mannheimer Morgen”, and „Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung”. Analog prints from the 1950s–1990s are shown, on the front and back of which you can discover the traces of editing, retouching, cutting, as well as comments from editors, art directors, journalists and photographers. The archives are arranged by keyword. Here we present a subjective ‘A to Z’ sample of the visual memory of the region. The archives are available for future use, as potentially influential raw material that continues to shape the perception of local and international events.


    You will find the room list for download here.