Fotomuseum Winterthur

Photographic Desire and Sexuality Photographed

Photography is present everywhere. It plays a formative role in all societies and in private, public, intimate, commercial, and “free” areas of our lives. It is also present in the closed off areas, there where it is “dark”, where we withdraw from society, or where acts are excluded from society. For ero¬ti¬cism, sexuality, desire, and identity, photography is a central visual tool: as document, stimu¬lation, instrument of power, and as artistic form of expression.

The exhibition and book project Darkside will discuss photography as an instrument of represen¬tation and as an important visual catalyst of sexuality. Photography shows and stylizes lust and passion, fantasy and desire, power and violence, voyeurism and self-presentation in sexuality. Fantasy and desire form a thrilling pact with photography: sexual fantasies demand representation; they seek to be revealed—and photography, with its voyeuristic streak, makes use of the power of (pictorial) eroticism for its own ends, in order to gain power and be seductive.

Darkside presents this photography and discusses it in numerous detailed essays. The exhibition and book are dedicated to photographs of ideal, natural and grotesque bodies, among others. The project conceives of sexuality as part of existence, presenting photographs of sexual practices, desires and phantasms. Sexuality is discussed in surrealism and reflected in its objectivisation and fetishisation; voyeurism is confronted with exhibitionism; sexuality and the body are dealt with within the context of gender debates and, finally, as power and as business.

In the process, it is always about the images that we make of “sexuality”, and about the endless blurring of fantasy and reality in photography that has taken place in the last one hundred years. The room has long been dark and dark is the night that gives the city and desire freedom and strength; “dark” is above all else the metaphor of connecting, flowing, swallowing up—of body, soul and spirit—which has taken place since time immemorial at the centre of life, of events, yet been excluded from society. That is, at least until pornography at the end of the twentieth century began to cast a cool, harsh economic light into the dim and warm areas of the body.

With works of more than 150 photographers, such as Brassaï, Bill Brandt, Hans Bellmer, Man Ray, Pierre Molinier, Germaine Krull, František Drtikol, Claude Cahun, Christer Strömholm, Anders Petersen, Ed van der Elsken, Walter Chappell, Peter Hujar, Robert Mapplethorpe, Andy Warhol, Nan Goldin, Valie Export, Carolee Schneemann, Urs Lüthi, Hannah Villiger, Nobuyoshi Araki, Daido Moriyama, Noritoshi Hirakawa, Arno Nollen, Paul Armand Gette, and many others.

Main sponsor: George Foundation

A book will be published by Steidl Verlag to accompany the exhibition: Darkside I – Photographic Desire and Sexuality Photographed. Edited by Urs Stahel, 344 pages, hardcover, with around 250 photographs and bilingual texts by Dominique Baqué, Henry Bond, Elisabeth Bronfen, Martin Jaeggi, Urs Stahel, Ulf Erdmann Ziegler, and Stefan Zweifel.

Darkside II—Photographic Power and Photographed Violence, Sickness, and Death will follow one year later in September 2009, dealing with the other central powers which intensely and persist¬ently form our bodies and minds.

Programme of events accompanying the exhibition “Darkside – Photographic Desire and Sexuality Photographed”:
More information on:

Still on display unil 12 October 2008 (Collection):
JEDERMANN COLLECTION – Set 5 from the Fotomuseum Winterthur Collection

For further information please visit our website

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

Phone: +41 52 234 10 60
Fax. +41 52 233 60 97

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