MUSEE DE ELYSEE
-The Memory of the Future-
This summer I went to Lausanne in Switzerland, it was breathtakingly beautiful. I spent the 4 days I was there making the most of what the city had to offer. One of the most inspiring visits was to the Musee De Elysee where there was an exhibit on the Past, Present and Future of photography. I am completely fascinated by photography, in particular analogue and experimental photography, I didn’t leave the hotel without my 3 cameras, 2 film and one instant. This exhibition was perfect, it was so interesting to see an exhibition where the process what just as important as the final outcome. I left the exhibition inspired and with even more of a love for Photography. In the world of today, where anyone can take a good looking photo on there iPhone, it is refreshing to see there is still contemporary artists experimenting with analogue photography and producing beautiful images. One photographer in particular, Victoria Will caught my eye. Will uses the old process of tintype to take incredible photos of well known faces. The process is one that is complicated but produces spontaneous images. Since I can’t afford to use this process, I have been inspired to try taking instant photos using expired film, which will have similar spontaneous effects.
Below is the review I have written for my Art History Research Journal
In this new age of instant photos, where anyone can be a photographer, curator Tatyana Franck takes us back to the origin of photography and informs us of its relevance to today in a carefully constructed exhibition entitled “The Memory of the Future”.
This exhibition takes a look at the past, present and future of photography, creating a dialogue between the eras. Franck encourages the visitors to “enjoy an unique experience and immerse themselves in the subject”. The exhibition itself is separated into three key themes, the pioneers of photography, contemporary artists paying homage to these old techniques, and the new perspective technology has cast on these past works.
The works of 38 artists working across 18 different mediums are on display to the public. From traditional methods such as Daguerreotypes, early Holograms, Tintypes, and Ambrotypes, to freeware photo mosaics.
The first floor of the show is dedicated to the origins of photography and contemporary artists that still uses these traditional methods. Each section is broken into techniques, numbered 1 to 8. There is a wall at the beginning with diagrams depicting 7 different methods of analogue photography and how they work which enhances the viewers appreciation of the work. It is refreshing to attend an exhibition where the processes are as important as the final piece. Within these 7 processes a range of artists are displayed, from the pioneers to the photographers that continue these techniques today. I found the Tintype display particularly interesting. Tintypes were first invented in 1853 but the artists displayed were working from the early 90s to present day. I was particularly drawn to Victoria Will’s work. Will first approached Tintype her fourth year photographing the portraits of the movie stars at Sundance film festival. She decided to replace her digital reflex camera with the century old Tintype process to create these brilliant raw images of faces we recognise. Each photograph is unique and honest and is a refreshing change from the retouched photoshop images we are constantly exposed to.
On the second floor of the exhibition we look to the future of these past works. I found this to be the most interesting floor, the work displayed paid tribute to the processes preciously seen and brought them to life with the use of modern day technology. Through interactive displays visitors are encouraged to look deeper at the interplay between the past and the future. What I found the most interesting was the museums roles with the creation of some of the displays, in particular, France and Mark Ostermans work. The Ostermans created a piece, inspired by photographies pioneer, William Henry Fox Tabolt, that would gradually disappear with its exposure to light. The Musée de L’Elysee sought to create a memory of this work to extend its life and took 30 polaroid photos twice a week during the exhibition, documenting the degradation of the work.
It is hard to fault this exhibition, Tatyana Franck has successfully managed to create an immersive experience entered around photographies potential. The attention to detail is evident, the works of different artists converse harmoniously, each piece displayed has a specific purpose within the exhibition. Franck engages the audience from the beginning and questions our understanding of photography. This exhibition is a fine reminder that in this generation of screens and digital photos, there is beauty in the process of creating images and it is still relevant to today.