Fotomuseum Winterthur | Saturday, 13.06. – Sunday, 16.08.1998

In the Empire of the Phantoms – Photography of the Invisible

The view that photography can make visible things hidden from the human eye extends far back into the history of the medium and is based on the metaphysical, speculative aspect of natural sciences in the 19th century. In 1861, the first “ghost” photographs were made near New York. In a self-portrait of the engraver William H. Mumler, the ghost of a young girl appears. In the following decades, Europe and America were flooded with countless spiritualist “ghost” photographs which circulated among scientists. Séances, ghostly appearances, phenomena of materialisation, levitations or thoughts were made visible through the medium of photography as “proofs of veracity”.

Fotomuseum Winterthur presents, on the one hand, well over 200 unusual photographs on the subject of occult, auras and experimental photography in the 19th century and, on the other, in expanding to surrealism and beyond, deals with influences on contemporary art photography, with works by Bragaglia, Strindberg, Moholy-Nagy, Man Ray, John Baldessari, Sigmar Polke, Anna and Bernhard Blume, Johannes Brus, Jürgen Klauke, Francesca Woodman, Thomas Schütte and many more. 

The exhibition was curated by Veit Loers and Andreas Fischer. Realisation in Winterthur: Urs Stahel. A cooperation with the Museum Abteiberg Mönchengladbach, and Kunsthalle Krems.

Main Sponsor: ZKB Winterthur