Back to the Future

The 19th Century in the 21st Century

C/O Berlin presents the exhibition Back to the Future from September 29 to December 02, 2018 at the Amerika Haus in Berlin.

Fascinating as ever, the new exhibition at C/O Berlin has once again exceeded everyone’s expectations. Photogravures of the moon’s surface, botanical studies as blue cyanotypes, and Woodburytypes of portraits: the exhibition showcases the work of contemporary artists who are using the techniques, methods, and processes of the 19th century photography. Taking inspiration from that early photography, the artists work with light, photosensitive material, photographic emulsion, and chemical processes. These techniques are taken an often-surprising step further as the artists also incorporate new technologies such as computers and 3D printers.

Disassembly 23, 2012 © Bownik/courtesy The Ravestijn Gallery. From the exhibition Back to the Future

Actually, photography today finds itself in similar conditions to the nineteenth century, when the medium had not yet been concretized and as such remained open for experimentation. Astronomers, mathematicians, physicians, and chemists of the day had recognized the potential of photography and set about researching it with great curiosity and an open mind. Today’s desire to explore the possibilities of photography is in no way restricted with regard to technique, process, and material. The exhibition pairs these works with outstanding pieces from the nineteenth century, creating a dialogue that transcends the bare facts of parallels and correlations by focusing on meaningful associations. This open-minded approach reflects the spirit of visual freedom that unites the pioneers of the nineteenth century and their modern-day counterparts.

Nicolai Howalt, Wavelength 644 – o nanometer,
from the series: Light Break, 2014–2017 . Courtesy the artist and Martin Asbæk Gallery,

Nicolai Howalt, Wavelength, from the series: Light Break,
2014–2017 . Courtesy the artist and Martin Asbæk Gallery, Copenhagen

Catching Light
Nothing is so essential to photography as light, without which it simply can not exist. This is implicit in the Greek origins of the word photography; literally translated it means drawing with light. It is light that makes chemical emulsions darker, creating shadow and depth. Immediately after the official invention of photography, attempts were made to photograph one of the most important light sources, the moon. The stars and the sun soon followed. Here presented Warren De La Rue, the Henry brothers and James Nasmyth were pioneers in this field. Photographers and artists have never lost their fascination for catching light and giving it a material form, an inexhaustible theme both for those 19th-century pioneers and for contemporary artists. In the 19th century it was mainly a matter of scientific interest, whereas now, in the work shown here by Sylvia Ballhause, Gwenneth Boelens, Nicolai Howalt, Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs, Douglas Mandry, Lisa Oppenheim and Johan Österholm it has more to do with making light visible and with the use of light as a material in experiments with form.

Tayo Onorato & Nico Krebs, Studio Universe (Dyptich), 2011 © Onorato and Krebs

The show features works by artists including Anna Atkins (GB), Sylvia Ballhause (DE), Karl Bloßfeldt (DE), Bownik (PL), Matthew Brandt (US), Alfred Brothers (GB), Alan Butler (IR), Henry Frères (FR), S.W. Burham (US), William England (SCT), Sam Falls (US), Spiros Hadjidjanos (GR), Thomas Hauser (FR), Nicolai Howalt (DK), Adam Jeppesen (DK), Thomas Mailaender (FR), Douglas Mandry (CH), James Nasmyth (GB-SCT), Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs (CH), Johan Österholm (SE), Jaya Pelupessy & Felix van Dam (NL), Helena Petersen (DE), Lisa Oppenheim (US), Warren de la Rue (GB), Lewis M. Rutherford (US), Nils Strindberg (SE), Stephen Thompson (GB), Simon van Til (NL) and Witho Worms (NL)

Exhibition September 29–December 02
Opening Hours daily
11:00 a.m.–08:00 p.m.

C/O Berlin . Amerika Haus Hardenbergstrasse 22–24 . 10623 Berlin

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