Back to the Future
Spanning a dialogue between contemporary positions and those of the nineteenth century, the exhibition Back to the Future displays what the photographic medium was, what it is, and what it will be in the near future.

The current position of photography has much in common with the early years of the medium, when experiments with new photographic techniques were carried out on a grand scale. In a spirit of openness, excitement, freedom, curiosity and non-conformity, the nineteenth century pioneers of photography experimented with the technological and visual potential of the medium. They tested various methods and processes, but these were far from fully developed. Innovators with different backgrounds and from a variety of disciplines were looking for the best ways to capture the world. Taking pleasure in the making of images, and with a similar drive for experimentation, these early photographers shared a common mentality with many artists today.

Installation shot, 2018 © Christian van der Kooy (detail)

The contemporary artists selected for the exhibition Back to the Future all use the foundations of photography: light, darkroom and chemistry, but in a non-traditional way. Each artist honours the history of the medium of photography by experimentally re-inventing it. The image is considered a material object with its own texture regardless of whether it is an analogue or digital object.

Back to the Future juxtaposes the work created by contemporary artists with the work of some of the medium’s nineteenth century pioneers. The exhibition includes work by Anna Atkins (GB), Sylvia Ballhause (DE), Karl Blossfeldt (DE), Bownik (PL), Matthew Brandt (US), Alfred Brothers (GB), Henry Frères (FR), S.W. Burham (US), William England (SCT), Sam Falls (US), Spiros Hadjidjanos (GR), Thomas Hauser (FR), Nicolai Howalt (DK), Adam Jeppesen (DK), Thomas Mailaender (FR), James Nasmyth (SCT), Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs (CH), Johan Österholm (CH), Jaya Pelupessy & Felix van Dam (NL), Warren de la Rue (GB), Lewis M. Rutherford (US), Stephen Thompson (GB), Simon van Til (NL) and several anonymous makers.


Foam Magazine #49: Back to the Future and inside spread featuring work by Nicolai Howalt

The exhibition Back to the Future is initiated by Foam in collaboration with C/O Berlin. From September until December 2018 the exhibition travels in an adapted version to C/O Berlin, Germany.

Foam thanks Stichting Foam Friends and Foam Fund for their generous support of this exhibition. Read more on how you can support Foam.

Foam is supported by the BankGiro Loterij, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, Gemeente Amsterdam, Olympus and the VandenEnde Foundation.