With this post we start our series on galleries, exhibitions and photography that will feature an inspirational #PortraitofBerlin, providing you some insights into our versatile city. In this exhibition C/O Berlin presents 80 photographs by photographer Ulrich Wüst, on display until 24 April, some never previously shown, as well as original leporellos by the artist for the first time in Berlin. It features his three photographic series “Cityscapes”, “Late Summer” and “Peripheries”.
Ulrich Wüst is a cool observer of his time with a contentious relationship to social and political contradictions. Everyday absurdities stand in direct contrast to the collective emphasis on public life that played an important part in socialist ideology. His photographic series created over long periods of time document the absence of civil society in East Germany and explore the collective feeling of privacy and its culmination in emptiness and futility.
His photographs of artistic and public events, of friends and family, and of everyday objects are both personal diary and historic document. Ulrich Wüst’s photography follows a clear visual principle. Compositions are thoroughly articulated, thought out down to the smallest detail, and influenced by a clear architectural sensibility. A defining quality of his work is the dialectic between ostensible objectivity and a precise attention to detail that is both subjective and subversive. The photographs are intimate in subject as well as scale, and Wüst presents them in the form of handmade leporellos—a format that is designed for personal use and recalls the souvenir albums of the nineteenth century.
A woman in a long coat and two men in short leather jackets stand looking out at the open sea holding bags and suitcases, their trousers rolled up and their bare feet in the water. How did this trio end up here? Who are they waiting for? Are they traveling or fleeing? This erratic scene is exemplary of Ulrich Wüst’s series “Late Summer” documenting East Germany around the time the Wall came down. In these photographs, unmediated interiority meets absolute exposure. This quiet collision gives rise to absurd, apparently unconnected situations whose narrative openness challenges viewers to explore their own associations. Ulrich Wüst’s analytic, purist black-and-white photographic cycles narrate his own personal experiences in times of massive transition and simultaneously comment on a significant chapter of German history.
The exhibition was curated by Felix Hoffmann. With this exhibition, C/O Berlin is presenting another East German photographer who is making an important contribution to contemporary German photography, following on previous exhibitions of Roger Melis, Gundula Schulze-Eldowy, and Sibylle Bergemann. A facsimile of Ulrich Wüst’s handmade leporello “Spätsommer” from 1989 will be published by Kehrer Verlag to accompany the exhibition.