Multiple Frames for Lucia Moholy

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Multiple Frames of Lucia Moholy is a public platform for conversation around the major themes of the exhibition Lucia Moholy: Exposures taking place from May 30 to October 28, 2024 at Kunsthalle Praha. The symposium’s aim is to bring both personal testimonies and theoretically conceived contributions together to not only introduce the writer and photographer at the center of the show, but also explore broader topics related to the cultural history of photography, notions of gender and sexuality, and the individual repercussions of geo-political power relations spanning the period of Lucia Moholy’s life (1894–1989).

Through a series of six talks and subsequent discussion, this symposium brings to light some key details in Moholy’s life, shared by those who knew her personally or have worked closely with her archives, and also provides a general context for conditions of taking pictures as a woman in Central Europe in the 20th century. Sabine Hartmann brings her expertise from working for decades as a photoarchivist at the Bauhaus-Archiv, Berlin, where she was responsible for processing Moholy’s estate. Among other things, she will provide insights on various editions of prints made from the photographer’s glass negatives, from vintage prints from the Bauhaus years to later enlargements. Karel Císař will describe a trajectory of transformation in the interpretation of Bauhaus photography over the last forty years by comparing two theoretical approaches to a famous self-portrait of Florence Henri. Henri was a crucial colleague for Moholy at the Bauhaus, where they both engaged in new photographic experiments. Estelle Blaschke will speak about Moholy’s involvement in various international documentation projects and in advancing microfilm as an information technology, highlighting her role in these developments. Camilla Balbi turns our gaze on Jewish women photographers in the post-1933 diaspora. Her remarks push the boundaries of a preconceived canon by situating a history of exile at the intersection of ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, and gender. Julia Secklehner will foreground the work of the female avant-garde within the context of developing socially engaged, interdisciplinary and collaborative practices. This “activist avant-garde” offers yet another alternative to a reified and well-rehearsed canon of male protagonists engaged in political resistance from the left. Finally, Angela Thomas will bring some of these topics back into acute focus for their relevance to the life of Lucia Moholy, sharing a first-hand account of their collective engagement in feminist circles around Zürich since the 1970s.

The concept authors and symposium moderators are Hana Buddeus and Meghan Forbes.

  • Sabine Hartmann, “Great moments in an archive: The estates of Walter Gropius and Lucia Moholy united in the Bauhaus Archive. Field report of a photo archivist”
  • Karel Císař, “From Jump over the Bauhaus to Oblique. A note on two interpretations of Florence Henri’s Self-Portrait. 1928”
  • Estelle Blaschke, “Avantgarde of another kind: Lucia Moholy and the history of microfilm”
  • Camilla Balbi, “From the margins: Jewish women photographers in, and after, Weimar”
  • Julia Secklehner, “Socially Engaged Avantgardes: Women’s Networks of Photography in Interwar Central Europe”
  • Angela Thomas, “Encounters with Lucia Moholy – Personal Insights and Art-Historical Extracts”

Camilla Balbi is a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Art History of the Academy of Sciences in Prague. In 2023 she received her PhD in Visual and Media Studies from the IULM University of Milano; in 2020/2021 she was a Visiting Scholar at NYU's Department of German Studies. Camilla is interested in the intersections between media practices and artistic languages; her main research interests are early 20th century German-Jewish art theory and photo-mechanical reproductions.

Estelle Blaschke is a professor in media studies at the University of Basel and teaches photography history and theory at ECAL Lausanne. She is the author of the book Banking on Images: The Bettmann Archive and Corbis (Spector Books, 2016) and a member of the editorial board of the scientific journal Transbordeur. Photographie, Histoire, Société. With Armin Linke, she directed the research and exhibition project Image Capital from 2019 to 2024.

Hana Buddeus is a researcher at the Institute of Art History of the Czech Academy of Sciences. She focuses on topics at the intersection of art history and photography studies, with a particular interest in the photographic documentation of art (Sudek and Sculpture, 2020).

Karel Císař is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Theory and History of art at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague. His books include the collections of essays Alphabet of Things. Notes on Modern and Contemporary Art (2014) and Signatures of All Things. Notes on Art Theory (2021).

Meghan Forbes is a writer, curator, translator, and gardener. Her first book, on interwar innovations in print production, Technologies for the Revolution: The Czech Avant-Garde in Print is forthcoming in Spring 2025.

Sabine Hartmann began her career as a curator at the Moritzburg Art Museum in Halle/Saale in 1976. After her departure from the GDR to West Berlin, she took up a position as photo archivist at the Bauhaus Archive Berlin, where she worked from 1983–2019 and collaborated on exhibitions and catalogues on the subject of Bauhaus photography. She was curator of the exhibition Lucia Moholy. Bauhaus photographer, in 1995.

Julia Secklehner researches art outside metropolitan spaces, popular culture, and questions of gender and minority representation in Central Europe. She is research fellow at Masaryk University, Brno, and Humboldt Fellow at Constructor University in Bremen, 2024–2025.

Angela Thomas is an art historian and the lawful heir of the estate of her former husband, the artist Max Bill. She was the co-founder and editor of Kassandra, a German-language magazine for feminist art, based in Berlin and Zürich in the late 1970s. Her monograph, A Subversive Gleam: Max Bill and His Time, also chronicles in some detail the life and work of Lucia Moholy, whom she knew personally.

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