Berlin gallery visits

Back in the summer, I visited a couple of photography museums while in Berlin. C/O Berlin, when the ‘food for your eyes’ exhibition was showing (https://www.co-berlin.org/en/food-eyes) and Museum für Fotografie (MfF)(https://www.smb.museum/en/museums-institutions/museum-fuer-fotografie/home.html), which is the German national photography museum and houses the work of Helmut Newton.

source: co-berlin.org by Ouka Leele

The museums are across the street from one another, yet are world’s apart in their presentation of works. It is this I consider in this post – the exhibition spaces and representation of photography.

Source: smb.museum

MfF was mostly given over to the works of Helmut Newton – glamorous and carefully executed fashion and portrait photography, mostly in monochrome. And after a while looking, much like eating too much chocolate. The presentation was uniform, with the same style and size of frames used in the main galleries – the frames were all hung portrait; with landscape aspect photographs, small in the vertical framing. The presentation was easy for the eye to follow the flow, without the frames distracting because of their uniformity. It surprisingly did not appear odd to have landscape photos taking little space in the portrait orientated frames. However, the overall impression was perhaps that of a neatly ordered library.

In contrast C/O has a highly contemporary feel and was much busier than its neighbour. The presentation was deliberately irregular (almost chaotic), and visually unsettling. Perhaps partly down to the number of different artists on display. It created a sense of liveliness in the gallery, with visitors uninhibited and engaging with one another and the works – shaping a context that didn’t suit contemplation, but made the gallery energetic and welcoming.

The experience has started me thinking about how I present my own work and the use of alternative spaces. Outdoor spaces, places that are not conceived for art exhibitions – how might different contexts be used to shape the perception of the viewer.