Presented by Schauwerk Sindelfingen, Germany, Light Sensitive Two showcases 150 works from the Schaufler Collection, utilising the gallery’s architectural angles to offer multiple visual perspectives. An exhibition originally shown in 2011, the second instalment brings together an assortment of German and international artists, including Wolfgang Tillmans (b. 1968), Marie-Jo Lafontaine (b. 1945) and Robert Mapplethorpe (b. 1946). Placing emphasis on stylistic elements instead of the overarching photographic medium, the contemporary collection cites how the conventions of classic genres, such as portraiture, landscapes and architectural, are developed through new practice.
With much of the work existing in the private collection, featured art interjects a new rhetoric in the progression of the visual gaze. Highlighted in the show are the works of Ralf Peters (b. 1952) who investigates the vibrant rays of isolated petrol stations. Noting how these constructions are somewhat ambiguous in their architectural definition, the darkened backgrounds direct full attention to the activity which dominates the space. However, the depictions seem to impart stillness as cars sit parked, figures are out of view, and only the fluorescent, coloured light buzzes, branding the area.
Similarly exploring the structures of concrete forms, Karl Hugo Schmölz (b. 1917) displays the minimalist shapes which are found within modernist architecture. By zooming in on geometric details, the prints uncover how repetition allows buildings to deviate from their original function, becoming highly aesthetic depictions. Tankstelle Ecke Oskar-Jäger-Strasse (1952) also displays a petrol station, illuminated by a bordered light and framed by the street. Sharing many of the conventions of Peter’s depictions, the piece ensues a feeling of calm as the image is devoid of humanistic movement.
Nobuyoshi Araki (b. 1971), also featured in the exhibition, explores the intersection of Japanese culture and the female form through a multitude of monochrome prints. Issues of objectivity and sexuality are explored as women, either in traditional dress of nude, are restricted and suspended with ties and ropes, not only limiting movement, but also restricting the body, deeming the figures uncontrollable.
Covering an array of thematic investigations, the exhibition exemplifies how, stylistically, photography offers limitless possibilities. The additional importance of the collectors to the resulting presentation suggests how the public’s desire to engage with the physical medium is still pertinent, despite the digital age.
Schauwerk Sindelfingen, Germany, Until 6 Jan 2020. Find out more here.
1. Gunther Forg, Tel Aviv, 2001-2007.