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Moderna Museet - Malmö

Ola Billgrens plats 2–4, 211 53 Malmö

MAIL: info@modernamuseet.se

TLF: +46 40 685 79 37

WEB: modernamuseet.se/Malmo

Tirsdag - fredag 11-18, lørdag - søndag 11-17


Written in Light - Early Photography

Julia Margaret Cameron, Nils Strindberg, Carleton E. Watkins, Joachim Koester, a.o.

26.05.2018 - 13.01.2019
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PRESSEMEDDELELSE

Starting this spring, Moderna Museet Malmö will be featuring the art of photography in its earliest years in a presentation of works from the latter half of the nineteenth century. The exhibition Written in Light - Early Photography features some of the most prominent and fascinating international photographers from this period, including Julia Margaret Cameron, Nils Strindberg, Carleton E. Watkins, and many others. It also includes a contemporary work related to Nils Strindberg’s photographs: Joachim Koester’s Message from Andrée. Simultaneously with the opening of Written in Light, a presentation of Akram Zaatari’s acclaimed film installation Letter to a Refusing Pilot will open in the New Gallery.

Ever since its invention, the medium of photography has been developing, changing, and taking on many different functions and roles. Portraits, nature, landscapes, and architecture were common motifs for the earliest photographs, and these themes are reflected in the exhibition Written in Light - Early Photography, which opens on May 26 at Moderna Museet Malmö.

The exhibition features photographs from the period 1843–1897. It includes Julia Margaret Cameron’s poetic portraits of friends and family, photographs whose expressive soft focus and staged scenes lead to thoughts of the Pre-Raphaelites and Renaissance painting. Visitors will also encounter Carleton E. Watkins’s monumental nature scenes from the Yosemite Valley, with their enormous rock formations, dramatic waterfalls, and gigantic trees. The exhibition also features Nils Strindberg’s fascinating documentation of Salomon August Andrée’s disastrous air balloon expedition to the North Pole in 1897, pictures found thirty years after the team foundered on the ice and perished. 

Thanks to two significant acquisitions from the mid-1960s, the Helmut Gernsheim Duplicate Collection and the Helmer Bäckström Photohistorical Collection, the Moderna Museet Collection includes works by some of history’s best-known photographers from around the world. At the same time, Written in Light presents most of the types of images and techniques used during photography’s infancy, including daguerreotypes, calotypes, and albumen silver prints. The word photography comes from the Greek for “drawing with light,” and with today’s constant flood of images and social media, photography is going through yet another period of transition. Looking back on the history of photography now and thinking about what its historical legacy means for contemporary photography is therefore of great interest. 

“Older photographs and image ideas are being given new life and a much wider audience with social media,” says Anna Tellgren, who curated the exhibition together with Andreas Nilsson. “Today there is great interest in early photographic techniques among a younger generation of photographers and artists. Moderna Museet’s comprehensive collection of photographs makes it possible for us to show various parts of the history of photography.” 

Written in Light also incorporates Joachim Koester’s work Message from Andrée from 2005. The work borrows its visual material from Strindberg’s documentation of the balloon expedition to the North Pole. 

“Unlike many others who have previously taken an interest in the material,” says Andreas Nilsson, “Joachim Koester has chosen to focus on what can be found on the picture’s surface—like spots, dirt, and visual noise—rather than on its strictly narrative content. What kind of hidden message might we discover in this interstitial space?”

At the same time that Written in Light - Early Photography opens, an exhibition of Akram Zaatari’s acclaimed film installation Letter to a Refusing Pilot (2013) will open in the New Gallery at Moderna Museet Malmö. This work, which oscillates between documentary and fiction, tells the true story of an Israeli fighter pilot who refused to follow an order. Instead of bombing a school in Lebanon he veered off course and dropped his bomb in the sea. 

“Akram Zaatari’s film is both an homage and an exploration of an act of resistance told through a personal filter,” says the exhibition’s curator, Andreas Nilsson. “It raises questions of ethical and existential character, while at the same time uniting the personal with a larger context. The work oscillates between documentary and fiction, and combines archival with newly filmed material.” 

Written in Light – Early Photography is a continuation of the project Another Story (2011) and is part of Before and Behind the Lens, Moderna Museet’s investigation of the role of photography in art and how the medium has changed. The exhibition Written in Light – The First Photographers was on view at Moderna Museet in Stockholm 2017.

The exhibition is part of Copenhagen Photo Festival.

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