Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen
Dear Aby Warburg: What can be done with images? Dealing with Photographic Material
Curated by Eva Schmidt
With: 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 & Stefan Pente, Eske Schlüters, Batia Suter, Simon Wachsmuth and Haegue Yang
December 2012- March 2013
[paula roush, Chaos of memories- Surviving archives and the ruins of history according to the found photo foundation. Order and Collapse: The Lives of Archives. 2016][Tanja Verlak, An attempt at exhausting an archive /Found Photo Foundation Dear Aby Warburg, what can be done with images? Dealing with Photographic Material Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen]Ludwig Seyfarth, Space for thinking between the images: on the genesis of the ‘photographic collection’ as an artistic genre. Dear Aby Warburg, what can be done with images? Dealing with Photographic Material Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen, 2012]Eva Schmidt, Foreword & Acknowledgements Dear Aby Warburg, what can be done with images? Dealing with Photographic Material. Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen, 2012][Christina Natlacen Lieber Aby Warburg, was tun mit Bildern? Vom Umgang mit fotografischem Material, Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Siegen Camera Austria 121, 2013][Noemi Smolik Album Art Aperture reviews, March 12th 2013][
Tanja Verlak Excavation Thrill. In conversation paula roush and Tanja Verlak Nowiswere Contemporary Art Magazine issue 12.][catalogue] [ museum website] [press release: e-flux]




The exhibition Dear Aby Warburg, What Can Be Done with Images? shows 22 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 pays homage to the ‘artistic’ art historian. While two projects refer in a concrete way to the work of Aby Warburg, the references of the other works are 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 shows hybrid combinations of photographic material with painting and sculpture.
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 will show, is a practice that is both aesthetic and ethical.