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Published 26 November 2018

Collective Exhibition


Münchner Stadtmuseum, München, Germany
Friday 30 November 2018 - Sunday 31 March 2019 - Event ended.

This exhibition is dedicated to landscape photography in contemporary art. The works from the DZ BANK Art Collection offer a broad overview of different themes to show that nature photography is not merely another version of traditional painting but is governed by new representational conventions. The exhibition examines images from the last five decades right up to the digital age to explore the ways in which the specific medium of photography has depicted the world. Photographic landscapes, both analog and digital, often address public debates and political discourses, and this will be a further focus of the exhibition.

 - Anna Vogel: Across the Screen, 2012, 25.5 x 25.5 cm © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 201
Preview thumbnail for artwork Anna Vogel: Across the Screen, 2012, 25.5 x 25.5 cm © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 201
Preview thumbnail for artwork Caroline Dlugos: From foreign gardens (Cows II), 1995, 100 x 129 cm © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018
Preview thumbnail for artwork Simone Nieweg: Brombeerranken im Schnee, Holzheim, Rheinland, 2003, 139,5 x 180,2 cm © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018
Preview thumbnail for artwork Sascha Weidner: The Sea of Ice II [after C. D. Friedrich], from the, Beauty remains series, 2003, 100 x 100 cm © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018
Preview thumbnail for artwork Beate Gütschow, LS # 7, 1999, 195.5 x 125 cm, © VG Bild‑Kunst, Bonn 2018
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With Claudia Angelmaier, Ursula Böhmer, Olivo Barbieri, Mona Breede, Marc Cellier, Lucinda Devlin, Caroline Dlugos, William Eggleston, Beate Gütschow, Jochen Gerz, Carsten Höller, Axel Hütte, Axel Hütte, Raphael Hefti, Dan Holdsworth, Roni Horn, Magdalena Jetelová, Sven Johne, Peter Keetman, Andrej Krementschouk, Robert Longo, Andreas Müller-Pohle, Richard Mosse, Walter Niedermayr, Simone Nieweg, Inge Rambow, Heinrich Riebesehl, Klaus Rinke, Thomas Ruff, Jörg Sasse, Adrian Sauer, Stephan Schenk, Maria Sewcz, Stephen Shore, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Anna Vogel, Sascha Weidner, Manfred Willmann.

Landscapes, as aesthetic phenomena and as the product of cultural associations, have always served as signifiers of a great variety of projections, world views, and narratives. They promote identification or use abstraction to create alienation. Current debate about our new geological age – the anthropocene period, an epoch in which human activity has been the dominant influence on geology, climate and the environment – has provided the stimulus to take a new look at the artistic appropriation of landscapes, and to pose questions, as asking, for example, what these depictions tell us about the relationship between humans and nature. Or, indeed, what landscapes represent at the present time, in a world determined by globalization and technological change; and with what kind of philosophical, environmental, and economic significance are they freighted. Finally, how (trans)historical, (trans)cultural, geopolitical, and hegemonic systems determine how we perceive nature and terrain.

The exhibition title references the theme of the project. It combines "landscape" with "scope", taken from the Greek "σκοπεῖν" (skopein = to watch or look at) understood in all its senses - from viewing instrument to panorama to range of application. The aim is to showcase and analyze this wide range of landscapes both in contemporary art and in environmental and socio-political debate. The exhibition is divided into seven broad sections that address the many different kinds of landscape photography that currently exist.

The focus of the Ideal Landscapes section is on composition, modes of portrayal, and traditional images, picturesque examples of nature observation. The works by Beate Gütschow, Stephen Shore, and Sascha Weidner chosen for this section, adapt and subvert the largely Western art history canon for this type of composition. They question the interrelationships between aesthetic and moral discourse in landscape painting that go as far back as the Renaissance.

Abandoned Land, with works by Inge Rambow, Walter Niedermayr, and Andreas Müller-Pohle, is dedicated to a broad range of transformations in the landscape. From the conquest of the Alps by mass tourism, to post-industrial wastelands, the photos depict various forms of destruction of the natural world. Reflecting the methods of microbiological water analysis, they train their sights on problems of site-specific water pollution in our rivers.

Political Territories deals with arenas of historical and current conflicts. Large-format tapestries by Stephan Schenk, with detailed views of natural and apparently everyday terrain, hint at the battlefields of World War I. Meanwhile, the illegal settlement of the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear site in the work of Andrej Krementschouk bears testimony to a lack of alternatives, and to the people’s will to remain in their homeland, despite all potential health risks. The large-format thermal image of a refugee camp in Turkey, taken by artist Richard Mosse, using a military camera that records heat up to a distance of 30 kilometers, subverts the usual composition of a typical ideal landscape by implying that its "inhabitants” are in a precarious situation.

Landscape as Concept brings together works that approach the genre as a background for media-reflexive, art-theoretical, and abstract observations, and adopt those as their own. Klaus Rinke establishes parameters of time and space by his use of repeated, staggered images of himself within the landscape. Claudia Angelmaier, who photographed the motif of Albrecht Dürer's linden trees in various exhibition catalogs, alludes to the discrepancy between the original and its reproduction. Questions about what we actually see in a picture, and whether we can really trust our eyes, also arise in Sonja Braas’ photographs of deceptively real simulations of natural scenes as miniature models and dioramas, or in the form of preserved domestic animals, which Marc Cellier stages in nocturnal cityscapes.

Nature’s Formative Power explores the idea that pictorial structures are inherent in nature or can be elicited from it. In Olivo Barbieri’s photographs, the terrain on the surface of mountain massifs evolves into abstract images. Serial observations of a seascape made over a long period of time by Lucinda Devlin illustrate the enormous changes that can be wrought in a location’s appearance by weather, time of day, or season. Photography pioneer Henry Fox Talbot’s argument that a photograph is created with "The Pencil of Nature" is echoed in the camera-free photography of artist Raphael Hefti. While the image evokes associations with astronomical imagery, the photographic paper was actually exposed with the aid of highly flammable lycopod (moss) spores.

Agriculture and allotment gardening are the themes of Agricultural Landscapes. Photos of densely planted cabbage fields by Heinrich Riebesehl, allotments and short-term use of fallow land by Simone Nieweg, and elaborate hay sculptures by Claus Bury all reflect the appearance of our latitudes, as they have been shaped and molded over centuries. As a whole, it represents an ironic rupture in the imperturbable romanticization of "country life," as can be seen in the works of Manfred Willmann.

Finally, Digital Landscapes is dedicated to the use of computers in creating and processing images of nature. Works by Jörg Sasse and Caroline Dlugos from the 1990s were still based on analog photographs, but now, with digital post-processing heralding a growing instability of the photographic medium, complete landscapes are digitally constructed, as can be seen in the works of Dan Holdsworth. At the same time, the Internet increasingly offers public access to photographs from professional image archives, such as those of NASA, enabling artists like Thomas Ruff to appropriate those visual worlds for his own use, including the experience of a three-dimensional planet Mars exhibited in a museum environment.

This group exhibition of more than 130 works of art created between 1972 and 2018 traces the rich variety of nature photography up to the present day, using photography to throw into stark relief the development, and often transcendence of the landscape genre.

This project is a cooperative venture of the DZ BANK ART Collection and the Münchner Stadtmuseum.

The exhibition is accompanied by a 160-page catalog published by Snoeck with contributions by Volker Demuth, Ulrich Pohlmann, Christina Leber, Dietmar Mezler, Erec Gellautz und Katharina Zimmermann. It can be purchased at the museum’s ticket office or from the online shop for €19.90.
 - Caroline Dlugos: From foreign gardens (Cows II), 1995, 100 x 129 cm © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018
 - Simone Nieweg: Brombeerranken im Schnee, Holzheim, Rheinland, 2003, 139,5 x 180,2 cm © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018
 - Sascha Weidner: The Sea of Ice II [after C. D. Friedrich], from the, Beauty remains series, 2003, 100 x 100 cm © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018
 - Beate Gütschow, LS # 7, 1999, 195.5 x 125 cm, © VG Bild‑Kunst, Bonn 2018

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