The photograph is black and white. There is a tree on the left, a tall tower in the middle and a poster with a man on the right. The poster is a Marlboro advertisement.
Dodendorfer Straße 1998 Aus der Serie: Morgenstraße. Magdeburg 1998 –2000 From the series: Morgenstraße. Magdeburg 1998 –2000 b/w archival pigment print 18 x 27 cm © Ulrich Wüst; ifa

Wanderings About History.

The Photography of Ulrich Wüst

29 Feb 2024
20 Apr 2024
RMIT Gallery, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology
344 Swanston St
3000 Melbourne VIC

The work of Ulrich Wüst first attracted attention in the 1980s, above all on account of his many Cityscapes, taken in several towns around the GDR. These images show scarring from the Second World War and an unchecked decay of historical built fabric. At the centre of his photographic interest, however, were those absurdities in urban situations that derive as much from a lack of attention or cluelessness as from wanton destruction or uncontrolled development. With his camera, Wüst evolved his own, very visual way of critiquing architecture. It has lost none of its poignancy today, especially as his argument is never ideological but borne along by a sense of phenomena that offers as much scope for subtle humour as for irony.
A wider international audience discovered Ulrich Wüst’s photography when he was invited to exhibit at documenta 14 in Kassel in 2017.

Ulrich Wüst’s photographic œuvre, which explores Eastern Germany in the broader sense, is not confined to the sunken GDR. It might be described as a pictorial archaeology of our present day. These pictures reveal the finds from his “excavations” and are at the same time tools of their conservation. Wüst has an infallible feel for the graphic quality of everyday situations, objects and materials, but also for the deeper layers of significance associated with found images. Examples are the enlarged details from East German press products that demonstrate a manipulative use of photography.

Ulrich Wüst’s photographic work can be contemplated from different perspectives. While the observations captured here are essentially rooted in Germany’s division and its mending, at the same time they always relate to universal phenomena of social change and its material manifestations. The seemingly terse images, extremely precise in their composition, are the fruits of lengthy visual wanderings through present sites of recent history.

Curated by: Matthias Flügge
Opening: 29.02.2024 at RMIT Gallery, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology

Exhibitions worldwide

With over 20 touring exhibitions currently travelling across the globe and with its diverse event programmes on contemporary art, the ifa links the German art scene with internationally active cultural creators and forms cooperations and networks. The projects, many of which were developed in co-creation with local partners, cover the various disciplines of modern and contemporary fine arts – from current themes in architecture, photography and design to Bauhaus and monographic exhibitions such as Rosemarie Trockel or Wolfgang Tillmans. These projects generate local meeting platforms and allow international perspectives on topics of global relevance. The ifa also provides loan exhibits to interested museums.

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Overview exhibitions worldwide (PDF)

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