The theme of the foundation prize, open-minded – being open, liberal in approach to something new or previously unknown, being inquisitive in a positive sense – addresses not only the question of which artistic positions are to be expected in the exhibition.
The socio-political dimension of the topic, which tackles perception of the unfamiliar or foreign, is felt in the works presented as much as reflection on photography itself, which demands fresh consideration of the now everyday and familiar medium.
Level 1 | Photography as exploration space
Sebastian Stumpf explores a special form of photography in his series, which displays clear proximity to performance art. The images capture a particular moment in which the body is staged in its surroundings in an original, funny but also irritating way. In the exhibition, sequences can be seen from the series Sukima (2009), Zenit (2016) and one work from Highwalk (2015).
Adrian Sauer in his works undertakes a both radical and convincing reflection on photography as a medium in the age of digitisation. He has used specially developed computer programmes to edit his representational images in the exhibition, showing clouds or fireworks, allowing him to edit every colour pixel precisely and well beyond the image editing software Photoshop and thus to control the entire colour spectrum.
Level 2 | Dimensions of documentary
In the gallery on level 2, the photographic novel Lauter Steine (Nothing but Stones) by Ülkü Süngün illustrates the story of a refugee couple between hope and disappointment. Based on an encounter in the asylum accommodation centre in Kirchheim unter Teck, the artist accompanies Georgian stonemason Sergio Pipa, who wants to earn money for medical treatment of his sick wife by using his craft skill at cutting reliefs in river pebbles.
The front passage on level 2 begins with works by Bernhard Fuchs and Göran Gnaudschun opposite each other. In his series, Bernhard Fuchs mostly explores his Upper Austrian home. He has created portraits as well as very subtle, poignant and intense images of cars, forests, roads, tracks and farms. Excerpts from the Farms and Tracks series are presented in the exhibition as examples.
With his photographs from the Alexanderplatz series, Göran Gnaudschun turns the attention towards a fringe group in society, which is noticed in passing but remains alien. With impressive and dignified portraits as well as text panels, he gives outsiders a face and a story. He offers an encounter with the stranded, freaks, punks, who have taken a diversion to the edge of society at some point in their life.
In the main space, works by Ann-Kathrin Müller meet those by Wataru Murakami. As an individual and precisely planned series, the black and white photographs of Ann-Kathrin Müller place the composition at the centre of the photographic work. Motivic and formal references to film, fashion or advertising photography create their own associative spaces when considered. The content context of the images is suggested in the texts by the artist but remains open nonetheless.
The works of Wataru Murakami arise out of his intercultural identity. His life in the Far East and in the western world shapes the impression in his tackling of the genre of still life photography. In his “Still Life Project” over a number of years, he lifts objects, spaces and people out of the context of work processes. On display are booklets and image panels from At a Studio: Restauration, Inside Urban Space: Sort, Work, Distance and Light and Himi City.
In the second passage, photograph series by Pepa Hristova and Johanna Diehl are presented. Pepa Hristova facilitates an approach towards the cross-gender phenomenon of Sworn Virgins. In the isolation of the mountains in Albania, the medieval tradition of women taking on the role of male heads of the family after vowing lifelong virginity has been preserved. They receive the status and rights of men and assume increasingly masculine traits, including in their appearance.
Reclassifications and transfers of use of the buildings and thus of history become visible in the architectural photography of Johanna Diehl. In her Ukraine series, the artist has gone in search of synagogues that have been transformed and converted into sports halls, cinemas or shops since the murder and expulsion of Jews during the Second World War.
In the first showcase on level 3, Regine Petersen presents an excerpt from her Find a Fallen Star series. The photographic explorations and research of the artist take place at locations where meteorite impacts have taken place years or decades previously. The human dimension of an everyday life away from large centres contrasts with the immensely significant cosmic event.
The group of works entitled The Citizen by Tobias Zielony – in the second showcase – stems from a project with politically active migrants in Berlin and Hamburg. The sequence presented in the exhibition introduces human rights activist Napuli Langa, who was persecuted in Sengal, during a campaign in Berlin. Zielony goes beyond what is documentary, having added images and text in newspaper format to the photographs arranged in large scale, and at the same time having been able to gain editors in the home countries who made the portraits the basis of their own articles.
In the front part of the gallery, through her works Inga Keber poses the question of the “nature of photography. With deliberate blurring, she challenges the understanding of photography as a precise account of the subject depicted. At the same time, in the serial representation of a motif, she undermines the idea that the reproduction of a photograph yields identical results. Printed on different printers, each final proof, each copy, becomes an original.
The photographs of Björn Siebert carry the subtitle Remake. Snapshots that he finds and selects in image forums on the internet serve as a template for him. Often taken incidentally and trivially in the original, the motif found is meticulously restaged by him and transformed with analogue technology in the area of artistic photography.