Links Between Past and Future: The Cultural Heritage in Images

Tobias_Günther: Faschistische Bauwerke im Alltag  Der Gerichtsplatz

September 20 – October 14 / Aisle E-F 101
An exhibition project by the class of art photography led by Walter Niedermayr, summer semester 2012

How omnipresent is the age of rationalism in South Tyrol, better known here as the age of Italian fascism? In the interwar years major architectural and urban planning interventions took place, and the composition of the population changed dramatically. The meaning of the architecture that was systematically employed by the regime is still clearly recognizable today in Bolzano. Two main construction trends are visible: functional buildings such as schools, sports and leisure facilities and representative monumental and political buildings such as cultural institutions, monuments, the railway station, bridges, government buildings and axial road systems.

The students in the artistic photography class taught by Walter Niedermayr approached this subject based on literature, through research in the historical archives of the city, and in collaboration with the office for preservation of historic monuments of the Province of Bolzano. In their works students tell stories that deal with the life of the city, where working through the past for several generations has taken some of the edge off of sensitive political and ideological issues. The resulting overall picture also shows how the students – some of them foreigners – approached the subject in an unbiased, uninhibited way, giving rise to possible interrelationships that reveal a reality in which actual historical events become disentangled from their contexts, rendering moot the question as to whether or not they should be done away with.

The photographer is therefore called upon to be an expert researcher of visual knowledge, that is to say of the history of images. His experience in visual practice qualifies him for deciding what is worth being preserved for the future and remembered as visual information/data. A professional working with the image archive of history and visual communication requires skills that go beyond mere photographic technique because in order to deal with image knowledge, with the iconic, one must be able to recognize the contemporary and historical contexts of a given political and social theme in the images themselves.

One aim of this project, therefore, was also to create images that transcended words in the sense that the images could not be replaced by words. Only if they have this autonomy is it possible for the viewer to experience the images as works attributable to the photographer. The process of remembering that is taking place simultaneously with this project can be made available to socially relevant archives and be used for recollection purposes in the future.

The exhibition is open to visitors from September 20. Official opening: Friday September 21, 6 pm, in the framework of the annual conference Umstrittene Denkmale / Monumenti controversi (Controversial Monuments).

Photo: Tobias Günther, “Faschistische Bauwerke im Alltag Der Gerichtsplatz”, 2012