Yesterday’s News Today

Heidelberger Kunstverein, Germany, Feb 29 - April 26, 2020

BiennalePart of the Biennale für aktuelle Fotografie – The Lives and Lovers of Images, 2020, curated by David Campany

Artists: Clare Strand, Sebastian Riemer, Thomas Ruff, Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa.

One of the primary tasks of the twenty-first century has been to make sense of the twentieth: to pick over its bones and discover small indications of what we have become. We sift that “pile of fragments of private images, against the creased background of massacres and coronations,” that the writer Italo Calvino concluded was “true, total photography”.

Over the last decade, hundreds of thousands of old news photographs, most often 8×10 inch black and white prints, have been dumped for sale online. As newspapers struggle to survive, the old photographs in their archives are the first casualties. Most sell for just a few dollars to whoever might want them. Whatever their fate, this photographic material is finding itself in new contexts, to be re-thought by artists, acquired by collectors, examined by historians, and exhibited by curators.

The current interest shown by artists in old news images is hybrid, somewhere between media archeology, history and image making. The old photos are reworked but also re-presented so we can see them, or encounter them again, in their strange new settings. What results is a sort of multi-temporality, in which the image is seen for what it was, for what it now is for the artist and viewer, and for what it could become in the future.

On the occasion of the exhibition, the Biennale für aktuelle Fotografie takes a look at press photo archives in the region: „Die Rheinpfalz”, „Mannheimer Morgen”, and „Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung”. Analog prints from the 1950s–1990s are shown, on the front and back of which you can discover the traces of editing, retouching, cutting, as well as comments from editors, art directors, journalists and photographers. The archives are arranged by keyword. Here we present a subjective ‘A to Z’ sample of the visual memory of the region. The archives are available for future use, as potentially influential raw material that continues to shape the perception of local and international events.


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