Photography is the medium of the present day. Never before in the history of mankind have so many moments been captured, never
before has human perception been marked as strongly as today by images. With the broadly conceived exhibition Fascination Photography, the Essl Museum dedicates itself to the magic of this medium. On display are works by some of the most significant photographers
alive and interesting new discoveries.
Lucia Papčo, from the series Grandparents, 2008
Photography is the medium of the present day. Never before in the history of mankind have so many moments been captured, never before has human perception been marked as strongly as today by images. With the broadly conceived exhibition Fascination Photography, the Essl Museum dedicates itself to the magic of this medium. On display are works by some of the most significant photographers alive and interesting new discoveries.
What is so fascinating about photography? I would like to give a very personal answer to this question and in associative
thematic spaces introduce works by photographers that explore nature and people, society and architecture and thus reveal
their perspective on the human and a globalised world, says the exhibition curator Günther Oberhollenzer. Essl Museum Press release, September 2015
The artistic use of the camera started as early as in the 19th century, when the first cameras were introduced. For a long
time, the artistic value of photography remained controversial, and it was reduced to its merely documentary or also utilitarian
character. Meanwhile, through the emergence of the mass media, the advancing digitalisation and the thus extended artistic
practices, much has changed in art reception, and so photography today is without doubt part of the essential media in visual
art. The works in the exhibition Fascination Photography represent a broad range of themes and invite a discussion on current social developments such as the leisure industry and
urban development. The most varied photographic working methods – here the range extends from digitally manipulated images
by Andreas Gursky to documentary and social-critical approaches by Ricarda Roggan or Tal Adler – also provide impressively
evidence, however, of how much photography is also a visual and sensual experience. Thus the exhibits facilitate extraordinary
dialogues between very different artistic positions.
Curator Günther Oberhollenzer presents works that address people’s view of nature: photographs with wild, untamed nature are
contrasted with images in which human intervention in the landscape is seen from a critical angle. At least since Facebook
and the "selfie" cult, photographic portraits have been omnipresent. Pictures in austere passport photo aesthetics meet pathetically
charged subjects, children’s photos and photos of young lovers encounter a work series that depicts the beauty of age. In
addition, photo works from South Africa to Iran and Israel are on display in which the focus is on cultural identity and the
social surroundings of those represented. Architecture is always charged with history. Clerical interiors and museum spaces
are in a dialogue with communist assembly rooms, staged artist’s studios and digitally manipulated interiors. Ultimately,
the photo motif is dissolved. In this context, Oberhollenzer, for example, shows a series of works by the artist Mike Kelley,
who died in 2012. In this the contours become blurred and the landscape vanishes in the darkness.
All the works are part of the Essl Collection.
13.11.2015 - 31.01.2016
Curator: Günther Oberhollenzer