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Exciting encounter between contemporary and historical photography

Works by Simone Nieweg, August Kotzsch and Laurenz Berges in the Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur

Simone Nieweg: Garden Shed (with Carpet Tiles), Meldorf-Holstein, 1986 © Simone Nieweg, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, 2023

September 8, 2023 – January 21, 2024:
Simone Nieweg – Plants, Sheds, Arable Land: Working in Nature
in collaboration with the artist

August Kotzsch – Nature, Landscape, Genre

November 12, 2023 to January 21, 2024:
Laurenz Berges: The Becher House in Mudersbach

Three parallel exhibitions can be seen at Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur. The photographs of Simone Nieweg and August Kotzsch show discoveries made in the landscape of intriguing objects both natural and human-made. Their juxtaposition makes for an exciting encounter between contemporary and historical photography. The photographs by Laurenz Berges take us to a half-timbered house in Siegerland that has been inhabited for several generations.

For the master student Simone Nieweg (b. 1962) in Bernd Becher’s class at the Düsseldorf Art Academy, the view of nature and the arable land created by human hand formed important starting points for her artistic work back in the 1980s. Even then, she was already preoccupied by urgent questions about how we treat our natural resources. Her color photographs, which Nieweg shoots in the Rhineland and other regions of Germany as well as in France using a large-format camera, draw our attention to the often overlooked outskirts of towns and industrial areas. They highlight the aesthetic qualities that unfold when these still un-zoned areas are cultivated in a limited fashion, usually upon individual initiative, for gardening or agriculture. Elements that give the land structure and continuity are captured here: alternative allotment gardens, future building land, patches of meadow, fields going to seed with wild vegetation, vegetable beds, plowed fields in winter, or blossoming fruit trees as harbingers of spring. Structures built by simple means, whether sheds or compost racks, reveal themselves to be typical components of their particular landscapes.

The exhibition will be accompanied by an eponymous catalogue, published by Schirmer/Mosel Verlag.

August Kotzsch (1836–1910), one of the early masters of German photography, offers a historical counterpart to Simone Nieweg. He takes us with him on his rambles through nature in his home region of Loschwitz near Dresden. Landscape scenes, garden corners, still lifes, and the fruits of his own harvest, but also houses and farms, were his preferred motifs. Depicting in loving detail, these cherished views paint an at once realistic and romantic picture of his surroundings. A self-taught photographer and son of a winemaker, Kotzsch used a complex process to produce his photographs. He made his negatives using the wet collodion process, and his prints on albumen paper. Thanks to this method, his images shimmer in iridescent sepia tones.

The works on loan come from the estate of August Kotzsch in cooperation with KICKEN BERLIN. They are complemented by exhibits from the in-house collection.

In the series “The Becher House in Mudersbach,” Laurenz Berges (b. 1966) explores the history of a half-timbered house in the Siegerland region that has been home to over three generations and which has become something of a monument. Originally the house of the grandparents of Bernd Becher (1931–2007), it was afterward inhabited by his two aunts. Becher loved the house from childhood on and later cherished it with his own family as an occasional domicile. A number of biographies are intertwined within these walls, as reflected in the furnishings and in the numerous items left behind. At many moments, it seems as if time were standing still.

In the photographs by Laurenz Berges, a master student of Bernd Becher at the Düsseldorf Art Academy, the aspect of time comes into play in a heightened form. The subdued lighting that characterizes his compositions contributes to a haunting atmospheric density.

An exhibition catalogue has been published: Laurenz Berges: “Das Becherhaus in Mudersbach,” with an essay by Hanns-Josef Ortheil, Munich: Schirmer/Mosel, 2022 (in German only).


Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur, Im Mediapark 7, 50670 Köln, phone: +49 221/888 95 300, email: photographie( at )sk-kultur.de, www.photographie-sk-kultur.de

Admission: 6,50 € (reduced 4 €), first Monday of the month free admission!

Opening hours: daily except Wednesdays from 2 to 7 pm.

On the first Thursday of the month open until 9 p.m., free entry from 5 p.m.: There are special program items.

Closed December 24, 25, 26, 31, 2023 and January 1, 2024,

Open December 28, 29 and 30, 2023 and from January 2, 2024.

Public tours are held weekly on Sundays at 3 p.m. each week. Thematic focus on the first Sunday of each month (The tours are held in German, English on request).

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