December 8, 2016 - Museum Folkwang - Werkstatt für Photographie 1976–1986
December 8, 2016

Museum Folkwang

Michael Schmidt, Untitled, from "Porträt," 1983. © Stiftung für Fotografie und Medienkunst, Archiv Michael Schmidt.

Werkstatt für Photographie 1976–1986
(Workshop for photography 1976–1986)
December 9, 2016–March 19, 2017

Opening: December 8, 7pm, The Rebellious Image
Museum Folkwang, Essen
Opening: December 9, 7pm, Kreuzberg-Amerika
C/O Berlin
Opening: December 10, 7pm, And Suddenly this Expanse
Sprengel Museum Hannover

Werkstatt für Photographie 1976–1986 in Berlin, Hanover, Essen
A three-part exhibition project on the changing face of photography in the 1970s and 1980s

This December, C/O Berlin, the Sprengel Museum Hannover, and the Museum Folkwang, Essen, are launching a joint exhibition project as part of their tri-city collaboration. Examined through the lens of Berlin’s Werkstatt für Photographie and Essen’s nascent photography scene, the exhibition takes a fresh look at an important chapter in the history of German photography that has been partly obscured by the success story of the Düsseldorf School.

The working-class district of Kreuzberg at the end of the 1970s on the outer edge of West Berlin—and yet the lively center of a unique transatlantic cultural exchange. In the midst of the Cold War, the newly founded Werkstatt für Photographie (Workshop for Photography) located near Checkpoint Charlie started an artistic "air lift" in the direction of the USA, a democratic field of experimentation beyond traditional education and political and institutional standards. A special artistic approach emerged from a dialog between renowned photographers and amateurs, between conceptual approaches and documentary narrations, between technical mediation and substantive critique and altered the styles of many photographers over time thanks to its direct access to their reality. The Werkstatt für Photographie reached the highest international standing with its intensive mediation work through exhibitions, workshops, lectures, image reviews, discussions and specialized courses.

In 1976, the Berlin-based photographer Michael Schmidt founded the Werkstatt für Photographie at the adult education center in Kreuzberg. Its course orientation with a focus on a substantive examination of contemporary photography was unique and quickly lead to a profound understanding of the medium as an independent art form. When the institution was closed in 1986, it fell into obscurity.

On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Werkstatt für Photographie, C/O Berlin, the Museum Folkwang, Essen, and the Sprengel Museum Hannover are presenting a joint exhibition project, which for the first time portrays the history, influences and effects of this institution and its key players divided between three stages. Furthermore, the three stages outline the situation of a changing medium, which focuses on independent, artistic authorship encouraged by consciousness of American photography. As such, they’re designing a lively and multi-perspective presentation of photography in the 1970s and 1980s that adds an additional chapter to the history of West German photography of the time beyond that of the Düsseldorf School.

Museum Folkwang
The Rebellious Image
December 9, 2016–February 19, 2017
Museumsplatz 1, D-45128 Essen

C/O Berlin
Kreuzberg – Amerika
December 10, 2016–February 12, 2017
Hardenbergstraße 22-24, D-10623 Berlin

Sprengel Museum Hannover
And Suddenly this Expanse
December 11, 2016–March 19, 2017
Kurt-Schwitters-Platz, D-30169 Hanover

For the exhibition Koenig Books is offering the publication Werkstatt für Photographie 1976–1986 (ISBN-13: 978-3960980438).

The exhibition project is jointly funded by several partners of the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe: Sparkassen-Kulturfonds des Deutschen Sparkassen- und Giroverbandes, Sparkasse Essen, Sparkassen-Kulturstiftung Rheinland, Die Sparkassen in Westfalen-Lippe, Berliner Sparkasse, NORD/LB Kulturstiftung, Sparkasse Hannover, Niedersächsische Sparkassenstiftung.

Museum Folkwang
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