The two-part exhibition Behind the Scenes
in the PHOXXI, the Temporary House of Photography at the Deichtorhallen Hamburg, revolves around processes of exchange and change confronting the institution’s photography collection.
The photographer, businessman, and collector F.C. Gundlach (1926–2021) never thought of collecting solely as an investment, and instead primarily pursued his passion for and commitment to supporting photography. Nonetheless, the private F.C. Gundlach Collection, with its great cultural value, is a powerful cultural “currency” that led to the establishment of the House of Photography in the southern hall of the Deichtorhallen in 2003.
The focus of this exhibition, conceived by Sabine Schnakenberg, is the relocation of the F.C. Gundlach Collection, which became necessary due to the extensive three-year renovation of the building. The Hamburg-based photographer Christoph Irrgang, who previously conducted detailed on-site research on the French Impressionists for the Museum Barberini in Potsdam and ultimately juxtaposed Monet’s landscape paintings with current views of the same places, understands the relocation of the F.C. Gundlach Collection as an artistic challenge, which he documents in photography both matter-of-factly and poetically. While he is fascinated by the non-public and very intimate work situation in the storage areas, he uses conceptual opposites such as light/dark and interior/exterior to depict visible details of the work with the collection as well as those that remain hidden from view.
Irrgang’s analytical photographic work is complemented by a cooperation with the Hamburg-based photography magazine Photonews. The atmosphere and international flair of Paris Photo—since 1997 the world’s largest photography fair featuring international galleries, publishers, and prominent figures—is regularly photographed by Photonews editors Anna Gripp and Denis Brudna. The international fair, which takes place every November in the Grand Palais with some 200 participating galleries and publishers, has long since attained the status of a powerful “stock exchange” for photography. For the collector F.C. Gundlach, Paris Photo was an annual event of supreme importance: there he met other collectors, friends, gallerists, and artists, maintained contacts, made new connections, and purchased photographic artworks.
While Irrgang’s color and black-and-white photographs offer detailed insights into the microcosm of a private collection, in videos and numerous photographs from Paris Photo, Denis Brudna and Anna Gripp reveal an exciting and atmospherically concentrated view of the pulsating activity at the international event under the glass dome of the Grand Palais.