The exhibition “Dear Aby Warburg, What Can Be Done with Images?” showed 23 younger positions of contemporary art that handle photographs – usually photographic reproductions or found photos – in a specific fashion.
Starting out from an enduring fascination with the Mnemosyne Atlas by Aby Warburg, this reference in the title also payed homage to the ‘artistic’ art historian.
While two projects refered in a concrete way to the work of Aby Warburg, the references of the other works were more associative in character. Today – from the viewpoint of contemporary art – we value Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas because it displays variable, non-systematic ordering parameters, but also because the combination of divergent picture sources and their carrying materials and fixtures – as an aesthetic unity – appears extremely provisional and haptic. The new availability of reproductions in Warburg’s time suggested the examination of images and their potential for making a statement in conjunction with other images, and the proposal and testing of hypotheses with the aid of such ensembles. Today, the availability of reproduced images is taken for granted more than ever.
An interest in photographic material, in the carriers of this material, or in the spatial staging of such material – temporal sequences in slide projections and film as well – cannot be overlooked in current art practice. Besides collection, accumulation, archiving and ordering processes, the exhibition also showed hybrid combinations of photographic material with painting and sculpture.
In general Photographic material in combination with other artistic media makes clear how we can conceive the discursive potentials of photography beyond the constellation of the individual image or the series. Expressive arrangements, interweaving, montages and formations reveal the ways in which photographic images can be made to speak. The meaning of a photographic image does not lie in the image itself; its context and actualization are decisive. The way artists deal with images, as the exhibition showed, is a practice that is both aesthetic and ethical.
Participating artists: Özlem Altin, Tobias Buche, Mariana Castillo Deball, Marianna Christofides, Koenraad Dedobbeleer, Katalin Deér, Thea Djordjadze, Hervé Garcia, Cécile Hummel, Franziska Kabisch, Ulrike Kuschel, Alexandra Leykauf, Elke Marhöfer, Katrin Mayer, Lia Perjovschi, Manfred Pernice, Abigail Reynolds, Paula Roush, Ines Schaber and Stefan Pente, Eske Schlüters, Batia Suter, Simon Wachsmuth, and Haegue Yang.
The cataloge is published by Kehrer Verlag, Heidelberg
The exhibition had received generous support from the Kulturstiftung des Bundes (Federal Cultural Foundation), the Circle of Friends of the Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen, and Pro Helvetia – Swiss Cultural Foundation. The piece by Elke Marhöfer is supported by the Ministry for Family, Children, Youth, Culture and Sport of the State of North-Rhine Westfalia. The museum's program for children and youth is sponsored by the Sparkasse Siegen and ZONTA. The Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen is a Culture Partner of the WDR.