Keep a Stiff Upper Lip! Gundula Schulze Eldowy and Robert Frank

Exhibition, 25 Jan – 1 Apr 2024, Opening: 24 Jan 2024
Akademie der Künste, Pariser Platz 4, 10117 Berlin

Robert Frank’s eyes in the rear view mirror, New York, 1990 from the series Keep a Stiff Upper Lip!

At the centre of the exhibition is the encounter between two artists who come from different worlds and have found an intense dialogue they developed through photography. Gundula Schulze Eldowy (born 1954) attracted attention in East Berlin with her multifaceted socio-documentary approach to photography and her unsparing yet sensitive nude portraits. On the other side of the Iron Curtain, the Swiss-American photographer and filmmaker Robert Frank (1924–2019) depicted a sobering counter-image to the American Dream, as presented in his by now legendary 1958 photo book The Americans. After their meeting in 1985 in East Berlin, a life-long friendship develops, despite the Berlin Wall and the continents that separate them.

The exhibition traces Gundula Schulze Eldowy’s artistic path from East Berlin to New York, where in 1990 she spent three years at the invitation of Robert Frank. There she met numerous artists from Robert Frank’s circle of friends: his wife, the artist June Leaf, the photographers Ted Croner and Ann Mandelbaum, the writer Allen Ginsberg as well as other representatives of the beatnik generation.

The references to Robert Frank and the myth of New York can be read in the over 200 photographs in the exhibition. Excerpts from the correspondence between Schulze Eldowy and Frank complement the photo show. In a video art installation by filmmaker Helke Misselwitz, the correspondence is presented as a diptych and projected onto two screens.

The catalogue is published by Spector Books (Leipzig). In addition to the works of Gundula Schulze Eldowy, mainly from the years 1990 to 1993, the exhibition will also display photos by Robert Frank, Roger Melis and Helfried Strauß.

On 2 and 3 March 2024, a retrospective consisting of films by Robert Frank will be shown alongside the exhibition.

Supported by the Capital Cultural Fund

Michael Ruetz – Poesie der Zeit. Timescapes 1966–2023

Exhibition, 9 May – 4 Aug 2024, Opening: 8 May 2024
Akademie der Künste, Pariser Platz 4, 10117 Berlin

Michael Ruetz, aus: Timescape 162 – Pariser Platz, Berlin, Phase 00, Mo 04.02.1991, 17:30 Uhr, Phase 16, Mo 28.08.2023, 10:33 Uhr © Michael Ruetz

Michael Ruetz, from: Timescape 162 – Pariser Platz, Berlin, Phase 00, Mon 4 Feb 1991, 5:30 pm, Phase 16, Mon 28 Aug 2023, 10:33 am

How to make visible the passage of time and transience, how to document the ruptures and changes that occur in societies and urban environments? These are the questions that Michael Ruetz – like few other artists – addresses in his work. Since the mid-60s he has observed the transformation of natural and urban habitats in locations in Berlin and elsewhere in Europe in a large-scale photographic study, capturing the changes in a series of photographic snapshots and inventory images. His Timescapes came about over a period of nearly sixty years and comprise more than 600 series made up of thousands of photos. The central concept of Timescapes is that the position and visual axis of the camera always remain the same, while only the time intervals of the photo series vary.

At the heart of the exhibition are the Timescapes of Berlin. The photo series present a particularly powerful consolidation of the far-reaching transformation of German society in the post-war period, after reunification and up to the present day. Sites of power or historical relevance such as Potsdamer Platz or the Brandenburg Gate, the Schlossplatz, Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin’s government quarters or the Berlin Wall have undergone radical change, particularly since 1989/90. Buildings and visual axes disappear or are built anew, streets are returned to previous states or renamed, squares are radically redesigned, open spaces built upon, vacant spaces given new life.

Ruetz’ images of Berlin are an expression of how architecture can shape and redefine our environment, thus giving it a prerogative of interpretation over our perception. His photo series develop their own aesthetics beyond documentary sobriety, revealing a poetry of time in the process. At the same time, Ruetz’ photos admonish us, in these times of environmental and social crises, to rethink the principles of urban planning and development.

Photo leporellos with selected Berlin Timescapes will be published with the exhibition.

The documentary film Facing Time by Annett Ilijew supplements the exhibition programme.