Rediscovering photo history through analogue lenses: Seventeen Sisters

The Fine Art Gallery and Music space in Traismauer just opened a new exhibition, curated by Reinhard Prenn: “Seventeen Sisters“, featuring 17 analogue cameras from different historical periods. These cameras offer unique ways of seeing and photographing, and Reinhard Prenn had the fabulous idea of lending out his cameras to different photographers to create this exhibition. I am very proud to be part of it! In addition to pictures taken especially for this photography show with Reinhard Prenn´s own cameras, the exhibition also features photos by some well-known photographers taken in the past with their analogue treasures.

Curator Reinhard Prenn in front of an iconic portrait of Johnny Depp by Stefan Sappert, taken with his “Anthony Tailboard” wooden camera on a collodion wet plate – Photo by Luis Gomez-Echeverri
At the opening

Along with the photographic works on display, the exhibition also presents the historical cameras used, their origin stories, and their significance in the world of analogue photography. From the collodion wet plate process used in 1865 to Polaroid photography, the exhibition showcases a wide range of analogue technologies.

The exhibition’s curator, Reinhard Prenn, explains that the rise of digital photography and the flood of images that has come with it has led to a longing for deceleration and analogue haptic experiences, a trend that has also reached the world of photography. “Seventeen Sisters” celebrates this love for analogue photography and the cameras that still – or again – capture timeless images.

I sure can relate to that, even though I still routinely use my digital camera for most photographic projects. Using film in analogue equipment again (something I actually started with in my teens), made me slow down, consider more carefully, and it also provided the thrill of not knowing if the result would be as expected – going to the photo lab was an activity full of susepenseful anticipation and, yes, worry. Reinhard´s passion proved contagious, I have meanwhile acquired quite a few analogue cameras, which can sometimes be found for very little money on used goods platforms, and when I have the time, I experiment with them.

Martin Lutz photographed these flowers in 2002 with a Hasselblad 503 CX

According to Martin Lutz from Fine Art Gallery, “The stories about the analogue experiences of the eleven photographers involved in the implementation of their projects complement the works presented, which stretch a colour and black-and-white arc across the different photographic genres.”

“Hintaus”, views of Leo Kandl´s backyard at his summer home near Mondsee, Austria, photographed with a Fujica GA 645 in 2010

For my own photo project, I decided to produce a “70s fashion” type portrait series with posed scenes. My ever-ready model, my daughter Maya, agreed to dress up in 70s clothing – which turns out to be quite the thing these days (and which proved a bit costly, as I had to buy quite a few outfits). I experimented with different films before starting the actual series, and I ended up liking the Kodak Ektar 100, which Reinhard Prenn had also recommended, because of its beautiful handling of reds and its crispness.

For Jutta Fischel, also a team member of the Fine Art Galerie & Musik and a photography teacher at Prager Fotoschule in Linz, experimenting with an old Polaroid camera took some time and quite a lot of film to reach the desired results, as the camera proved more difficult to handle than one might imagine. In the end though, as is evident from the beautiful series of (round!) frames presented here, the machine yielded to the artist´s will.

Jutta Fischel with her photos at an exhibition
Jutta Fischel made lovely pictorial flower and fruit still-life photos, a series called “Tea with Doris”, photographed with a Polaroid 600 extreme in 2022
From “Tea with Doris” by Jutta Fischel

Don’t miss this declaration of love to analogue photography, the photographers, and the cameras that captured their artistic visions. There are so many beautiful photographic works in this exhibition, I really recommend a visit to the gallery. I cannot show all the photographic positions that are on view in this post, but selected a few more for the following slideshow.

The exhibition features works by:

Stefan Sappert, Martin Gansrigler, Lothar Rübelt, Leo Kandl, Dario Mitidieri, Lou Stoumen, Thomas Gobauer, Martin Lutz, Reinhard Prenn, Michael Seirer, Martin Skopal, Karin Svadlenak-Gomez (yup, that´s me), Jutta Fischel, and Bernhard Schneider.

You can see the exhibition at Fine Art Galerie on the following dates:

Saturday 29 April and Sunday 30 April 2pm – 6pm, thereafter until June 11th by appointment. There is also a programme of side events. See more details in the programme on the gallery website.

My photos from the opening night of the exhibition were taken with a digital (!) Olympus EM5 Mark III and an ISO setting of 1000.

A photo from inside the giant camera obscura in the yard of the Fine Art Gallery, which also features prominently in a previous blog post, taken with my digital Olympus EM5 Mark III at 1000 ISO (and not turned around – the image is as it appears, upside down)

(except where otherwise indicated)

2 thoughts on “Rediscovering photo history through analogue lenses: Seventeen Sisters

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: