Philipp Lachenmann: DELPHI Rationale

 

Unboxing Photographs: Work in the Photo Archive

15.01.2018, Berlin | From February 16 through May 27, 2018, the National Museums in Berlin will present the exhibition “Unboxing Photographs: Work in the Photo Archive” at the Library of Art History at the Kulturforum. The project, which was developed by the Collection of Photography of the Library of Art History and the Collection of Classical Antiquities, both National Museums in Berlin – Prussian Cultural Heritage, together with the Photo Library of the Art Historical Institute in Florence – Max Planck Institute and the Institute for European Ethnology at Humboldt University of Berlin, wants to explore alternative possibilities of presenting photographs, highlighting their three-dimensional character.

Unboxing Photographs, negative films, Hahne-Niehoff-Archive, HU Berlin

“Unboxing Photographs: Work in the Photo Archive” opens the boxes of four photo archives to showcase the material diversity of photographs as three-dimensional objects: from glass plate negatives, to 35 mm film, to prints on albumin or silver gelatin paper. These photo-objects are taken in the hand, tilted and turned over, labeled, cut down, framed, glued into albums, printed, and dispatched or posted online. Contact and inventory sheets, cardboard mounts, card catalogs, and today even display screens are integral parts of the photo-object, or even constitute it.

Since the 19th century, archaeologists, ethnologists, and art historians have worked with photographs and assembled them in archives. There, they are processed and ordered – and only through such treatment do they become usable as documents for scholarly research. These procedures alter the physical properties of photographs and leave behind material traces. Photographs, hence, are neither objective nor timeless. By taking them seriously as objects, and not just as pictures, it becomes possible to tell their multifarious stories. The exhibition interrogates the commonly practiced and disciplinary conventions that govern the perception and presentation of photographs – for example, museum display using passe-partouts – and tries out new design possibilities. Work with photo-objects is also central to the artistic interventions of JUTOJO, Ola Kolehmainen, Joachim Schmid, Elisabeth Tonnard, and Akram Zaatari, all of which have been integrated into the exhibition.

Unboxing Photographs: Work in the Photo Archive

Exhibition opening: February 15, 2018, 7 p.m.
Exhibition dates: February 16 – May 27, 2018

Exhibition room of the Kunstbibliothek im Kulturforum
Matthäikirchplatz 6, 10785 Berlin

An exhibition of the joint project “Photo Objects – Photographs as (Research) Objects in Archaeology, Ethnology, and Art History,” Photo Library of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut / Collection of Photography of the Kunstbibliothek and Antikensammlung, both Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Institute for European Ethnology at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Schering Stiftung, and the Verein der Freunde der Antike auf der Museumsinsel Berlin e. V.

Illustrations:

Fig. 1: Box no. 5 with negative films from the Hahne-Niehoff Archives, Institute for European Ethnology, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Fig. 2: Unidentified photographer, Eight Mirror Frames, silver gelatin paper on cardboard, Collection of Elia Volpi, c. 1900, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut
Unboxing Photographs, Collection of Elia Volpi, c. 1900, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut

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Founded in 2002 by Schering AG, Berlin, the independent and non-profit Ernst Schering Foundation aims to promote science and art ...

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