Symptoms of the future: IMAGE — CAMERA — IMAGE

Esther Shalev-Gerz
Jasper Rigole
9 October — 21 November, 2021

What makes it possible for a work of art to live simultaneously in the aesthetic and social worlds? How can we encourage or enhance a “multi-temporality” and cross the line between “common objects” and “artistic objects” without succumbing to the privatization of culture as a form of property? Questions like these are the crux of the year-long program SYMPTOMS OF THE FUTURE.

The group exhibition IMAGE — CAMERA — IMAGE presents works by Esther Shalev-Gerz and Jasper Rigole. It looks into the production of images, exploring how we relate to, read and consume images once the technology of their making and distribution changes.

John Berger concludes in his essay “Seker Ahmet and the Forest” that the accidental link between the Turkish painter and German philosopher “is an example of how, at this stage of world history, there are truths which can only be uncovered, as Heidegger would say, unconcealed, in the folds between cultures and epochs.”

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DER LETZTE KLICK / The Last Click was commissioned in 2010 by the Museum for Photography of Braunschweig, Germany. Esther Shalev-Gerz has responded to the city’s status as the centre of production of the revered brand of cameras: Rollei. With the various elements of her artwork, the artist focuses on what has been a long-serving agent in the construction of memory and the depiction of time. The Last Click reflects the shift in production from analogue to digital cameras.

The idea of the project is to show two situations: on the one hand, the artist visited the Rollei factories which are being drained of human and mechanical presence; and on the other hand she invited people who wanted to dispose of their camera to share the stories about the camera before giving them to the project.

Twenty-five persons accepted to participate in the project. Esther Shalev-Gerz edited these encounters into a video that creates a collective phenomenon out of individual stories. As well, the video captures small poetic gestures: the way these cameras are picked up, opened, closed and operated.

In the Rollei factory the artist stages an old Rolleiflex camera as a character; in her images the Rollei teeters on the long legs of its tripod through the workshops and, panning its head, acknowledges the emptiness it comes across. Arranged in sequences, the images appear to be film stills—but they are single photographs; the only thing moving in the images is the wandering camera. Not only the “visitor” but also the camera capturing its visit are Rolleiflex, but the last one is equipped with a digital back. The high photographic quality of these “film images” has something to do with it.

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Elective Affinities is a project started in 2012 by Jasper Rigole, in collaboration with Egon Van Herreweghe. The project is inspired by the visual associative methodology developed by the German art historian Aby Warburgin his Mnemosyne Atlas. In each “edition” of this project, two artists use a photocopier to create various visual ensembles based on a supply of found imagery. A temporary studio is set up for this purpose where the images can be collected, combined and finally reproduced. In the process, a visual dialogue develops in which the artists react to each others proposals by adding images and revising existing ensembles, or by following lines that emerge in the course of the process. Since the interpretation of these actions does not turn into a verbal discourse, it creates room for an intuitive process that facilitates rapid, direct interaction. At the end of the project, the image ensembles are reproduced as a magazine. The number of copies of the magazine is identical to the number of pages created. 

The studio of the sixth edition is set up at Out of Sight and realized in collaboration with Dušica Dražić, curator of the exhibition. The production process will be exposed to the visitors of the exhibition, making performative, ephemeral and collaborative aspects of the artists’ practices more tangible. On the closing day, on 21 November at 17h the sixth edition of Elective Affinities magazine will be presented and distributed.

Esther Shalev-Gerz | DER LETZTE KLICK / THE LAST CLICK, 2011, 
Braunschweig, Germany [
Installation 70 photographs, colour, variable dimensions, a photo album with 13 photographs, black and white, 21x21cm, a video, 24’, a soundtrack, 1’20’’, 26 wooden boxes and 6 chairs, from the Rollei factories] | Courtesy the artist
Esther Shalev-Gerz | DER LETZTE KLICK / THE LAST CLICK, 2011, Braunschweig, Germany [
Installation 70 photographs, colour, variable dimensions, a photo album with 13 photographs, black and white, 21x21cm, a video, 24’, a soundtrack, 1’20’’, 26 wooden boxes and 6 chairs, from the Rollei factories] | Courtesy the artist
Esther Shalev-Gerz | DER LETZTE KLICK / THE LAST CLICK, 2011, 
Braunschweig, Germany [
Installation 70 photographs, colour, variable dimensions, a photo album with 13 photographs, black and white, 21x21cm, a video, 24’, a soundtrack, 1’20’’, 26 wooden boxes and 6 chairs, from the Rollei factories] | Courtesy the artist
Esther Shalev-Gerz | DER LETZTE KLICK / THE LAST CLICK, 2011, Braunschweig, Germany [
Installation 70 photographs, colour, variable dimensions, a photo album with 13 photographs, black and white, 21x21cm, a video, 24’, a soundtrack, 1’20’’, 26 wooden boxes and 6 chairs, from the Rollei factories] | Courtesy the artist
Esther Shalev-Gerz | DER LETZTE KLICK / THE LAST CLICK, 2011, Braunschweig, Germany [
Installation 70 photographs, colour, variable dimensions, a photo album with 13 photographs, black and white, 21x21cm, a video, 24’, a soundtrack, 1’20’’, 26 wooden boxes and 6 chairs, from the Rollei factories] | Courtesy the artist
Esther Shalev-Gerz | DER LETZTE KLICK / THE LAST CLICK, 2011, Braunschweig, Germany [
Installation 70 photographs, colour, variable dimensions, a photo album with 13 photographs, black and white, 21x21cm, a video, 24’, a soundtrack, 1’20’’, 26 wooden boxes and 6 chairs, from the Rollei factories] | Courtesy the artist
Jasper Rigole, Ria Verhaeghe | ELECTIVE AFFINITIES 5, 2019 [2 pages from Elective Affinities 5, 29 cm x 42 cm] | Courtesy the artists