Foto: Modernity in Central Europe 1918-1945
Dean Gallery, Edinburgh, Sat 7 Jun–Sun 31 Aug
The Dean’s new exhibition argues that across Central Europe between the wars the driving force of modernity in art could be found in the field of photography. Artists and amateur practitioners alike could come together and explore different views of the world through the defining artform of the industrial age.
‘As empires like the German Reich and the Austro-Hungarian Empire crumbled the resulting nation states found themselves thrust into urban modernity from their previously agrarian conditions,’ says Foto’s curator Daniel Hermann. ‘This change was mediated artistically through photography.’
Using around 150 items, including journals, collages, publications and original photographic prints by pioneers like László Moholy-Nagy and André Kertész, the exhibition demonstrates the creativity of the times while serving as a documentary portrait of the age. After all, the concept of photojournalism was itself invented in Central Europe during the period covered by the display.
‘One of the most important things about the exhibition is showing how important taking photos was to all sorts of people,’ says Hermann. ‘One of the sections focuses on amateur or ‘dilettante’ photography. If you’re a photographer you need a laboratory as well as a camera, so people would get together in photo clubs and schools, and often these would be supported by unions and workers’ movements. Photography was a real utopian project, at the time.’