curated by Esther Ruelfs and Boaz Levin

Gewerbemuseum Winterthur

At the exhibition, historical photographs, contemporary artistic positions and interviews with experts tell the story of art photography from the perspective of its industrial production. Where, for example, did the copper come from that was used for Hermann Biow’s famous daguerreotype of Alexander von Humboldt? Showcasing 170 works, the exhibition impressively illustrates how, ever since its invention, the medium of photography has contributed to man-made changes in nature – and continues to do so to this day. From the very outset, the production of photographs has depended on the extraction and exploitation of natural raw materials. In the 19th century, salt, copper and silver were used to create the first images on copper plates and for salt prints. Following the advent of silver gelatine prints, the photography industry became the most important consumer of silver in the late 20th century, accounting for more than half of global consumption. Today, in the age of smartphones and digital photography, image production relies on rare earths and metals such as coltan, cobalt and europium. The storage of images and their dissemination also produce large quantities of CO2.

Ignacio Acosta, Eduard Christian Arning, Lisa Barnard, Hermann Biow, F&D Cartier, Klasse Digitale Grafik – HFBK Hamburg (Mari Lebanidze, Miao ‘Cleo’ Yuekai, Leon Schweer und Marco Wesche), Oscar und Theodor Hofmeister, Susanne Kriemann, Honoré d’Albert de Luynes und Louis Vignes, Jürgen Friedrich Mahrt, Mary Mattingly, Charles Nègre, Optics Division of the Metabolic Studio (Lauren Bon, Tristan Duke und Richard Nielsen), Madame d’Ora, Lisa Rave, Hermann Reichling, Alison Rossiter, Daphné Nan Le Sergent, Robert Smithson, Anaïs Tondeur, James Welling, Noa Yafe, Tobias Zielony