Michael Wesely
Berlin, 1860–2023

12.04.2024 to 01.09.2024
Museum für Fotografie

How can a city’s spatial and architectural development dynamics be visualised photographically? How can photography capture time and life? In two new bodies of work, the internationally renowned photographer Michael Wesely traces fragments of past realities preserved in historical architectural photographs of Berlin. In doing so, he explores the archival dimensions of the medium of photography.

For Doubleday, Wesely precisely superimposes his own photographs over old photographs of 19th and 20th-century architecture in Berlin, creating breathtaking leaps in time between the past and the present: 19th-century strollers on Alexanderplatz encounter today’s tourists; reconstructed copies of the buildings are superimposed onto ruins; and a park has taken the place of Monbijou Palace.

In his Human Conditions series, the artist focuses on the traces of people’s lives around 1900 enclosed in the Prussian Photogrammetric Institute’s large-format photographs. Wesely is particularly fascinated by the spooky disappearance of people in motion, whose contours have not been captured by the long exposure times, and whose shadowy figures he meticulously exlicits.

The Museum für Fotografie is also presenting works by Michael Wesely from previous years. These include the recently completed cycle about Leipziger Platz and Potsdamer Platz that followed the development of the new city quarter from 1997 to 2021. Another group of works shows demonstrations and protest gatherings, each of which Wesely photographed with exposure times of a few minutes and whose transient nature has left only traces and ghostly apparitions. These photographs are brought into dialogue with photojournalistic images of urban life and demonstrations by Willy Römer and Bernard Larsson from the Kunstbibliothek’s photography collection.

Exhibition Catalogue

A catalogue has been published on the occasion of the exhibition by Hatje Cantz Verlag (136 pages, German/English).

A special exhibition of the Kunstbibliothek – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Jebensstraße 2
10623 Berlin

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