With the exhibition Dressing – Dressing Up, the Photographic Collection focuses on representations of people and the clothes they wear. How do dressing and dressing up influence the image we have of ourselves and others? Selected portraits and documentary photographs from the inventory of the Photographic Collection explore the roles and functions of these activities, which only appear to differ at first glance.
Clothing makes reference to the social and cultural identity of its wearer or to the image the wearer wishes to project. Dressing up, in contrast, breaks with social convention, is frequently ritually anchored in traditional events over the course of the year and is thus accepted. Photographers always try to identify the ideas their models associate with clothing, highlight its social significance and on more than the odd occasion discover the disguise behind the clothing and the desire to be different.
With 50 works by 20 artists, the exhibition spans almost a century. It is structured into four chapters, in which the boundaries between dressing and dressing up are blurred. Lotte Errell and Germaine Krull approach the topic between the cultural extremes of complete concealment and nudity. Käthe Buchler and August Sander present people from various social backgrounds during and after the First World War in new garb. Timm Rautert, André Gelpke and Elfi Fröhlich explore the uniform as an expression of a profession or attitude towards life. Contemporary positions such as Jürgen Teller, Tobias Zielony, Albrecht Tübke, Rineke Dijkstra and Oliver Sieber examine the significance of clothing in a global youth culture, while Andreas Horlitz, Axel Hoedt, Chargesheimer, Homer Sykes and Jürgen Heinemann focus on regional customs.
What is common to the photographers represented here is a virtually “ethnographic” eye, which is able to discover new things in both local and foreign cultures.
The exhibition was curated by Inga Schneider, who is a graduate of the advanced study programme in Art Criticism & Curating at Ruhr University Bochum.