June 18, 2020 - Museum Folkwang - 21 lettres a la photographie@gmx.de
June 18, 2020

Museum Folkwang

21.lettres.a.la.photographie@gmx.de, Lettre #20, 2018.

21 lettres a la photographie@gmx.de
June 19–November 8, 2020

Museum Folkwang
Museumsplatz 1
45128 Essen

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Museum Folkwang is reopening its basement galleries permanently as an exhibition space for photography. It will showcase new acquisitions, placing them in an active and multifaceted dialogue with works and series that have found their way into the Photographic Collection—which now comprises some 65,000 objects—as acquisitions and donations, or through bequests of estates and archives. 

21.lettres.a.la.photographie@gmx.de is a is a politically engaged conceptual Mail Art project, and is being presented to the public for the first time. Over a period of more than 10 years, editorial offices and curators from photographic institutions sporadically received anonymous letters, each with a folded piece of paper featuring printed pictures and completely devoid of contextualisation.

21.lettres.a.la.photographie@gmx.de questions the concept of authorship in contemporary photography. The secret initiators of the project interrogated the institutional and commercial space in which photography operates. The only reference to the unknown addressees is the coloured stamp. But who were the creative hands behind the mail-out? What do the organisers intend to achieve with the letters, which are clearly addressed to representatives of the medium of photography? And who valued, kept and collected the letters? 

With their letters, 21.lettres.a.la.photographie@gmx.de are continuing a tradition of similar projects from the 1960s and 1970s. For example, the postcard mail-outs by On Kawara or the postcard series 100 Boots by Eleanor Antin, which traces the symbolic path of 100 rubber boots through the United States from rural California to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Today, conceptual, ephemeral projects like these might take place on social media platforms, where ideas about the production of art and its distribution are approached and negotiated in a playful manner. In this sense, showing and exhibiting the 21 letters acquired this year by Museum Folkwang in conjunction with other works in the collection provides a dialogical configuration that raises questions about artistic continuity and development, about values and attitudes. The display encourages audiences to draw comparisons, establishing connections between individual works and groups of images, thus revealing the different ways in which photography functions.

In the exhibition 21.lettres.a.la.photographie@gmx.de, the 21 letters are presented alongside anonymous photographs and works by ANT! FOTO, Lewis Baltz, Adolphe Braun, Jojakim Cortis & Adrian Sonderegger, Lotte Errell, fotoform, André Gelpke, Eiko Grimberg, Harry Hachmeister, André Kertész, Astrid Klein, Barbara Klemm, Jürgen Heinemann, Axel Hütte, Peter Keil, William Klein, Kurt Kranz, Anneliese Kretschmer, Helmuth Kurth, Lucia Moholy, Shahryar Nashat, Karl Peters, Walter Schmitz, Gundula Schulze Eldowy, Henrik Spohler, The Good Liars and Andreas Weinand.

Opening Hours
Tuesday–Sunday 10am–6pm, Thursday and Friday 10am–8pm
Closed on Mondays

Press contact
Yvonne Daenekamp, T +49 201 8845 160 / yvonne.daenekamp [​at​] museum-folkwang.essen.de

Museum Folkwang
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