Main Exhibition Future Exhibitions

The Time We Call Our Own

3 April - 31 May 2020

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Photography Course: Photography and Control

5 March - 5 March 2020

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PORTFOLIO CLUB

23 February - 23 February 2020

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OPEN SOURCE IN CONVERSATION: JONATHAN LYNCH

29 February - 29 February 2020

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DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY: OPEN SOURCE #15 – JONATHAN LYNCH

1 February - 29 February 2020

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PLATFORM Issue 01

21 January 2020

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LAUNCH: THE DARK FIGURE*

20 February - 20 February 2020

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DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY: OPEN SOURCE #14 – SAHAN NUHOGLU

16 January 2020

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TALK: THE IMAGE OF WHITENESS WITH DANIEL C. BLIGHT

12 March - 12 March 2020

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VISUAL RIGHTS

16 January - 22 March 2020

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THE DARK FIGURE*

20 February - 22 March 2020

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EXPOSED

12 December - 5 February 2020

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DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY: NOW, FOR THE FUTURE – OPEN SOURCE X SHUTTER HUB

1 November - 30 November 2019

Brilliant City 中文

30 October - 16 November 2019

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Tong Yan Gai — Chinatown—中文

7 October - 24 October 2019

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HE 中文

17 October - 21 December 2019

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JUMP! 中文

4 October - 26 October 2019

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A Room of Our Own: a Fast Forward Women in Photography Exhibition 中文

17 October - 21 December 2019

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DINU LI: ANATOMY OF PLACE — (中文)

17 October - 21 December 2019

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Peer to Peer 中文

17 October - 22 December 2019

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DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY: OPEN SOURCE 12 – KATHY ANNE LIM

1 October - 31 October 2019

LOOK PHOTO BIENNIAL / SATELLITE

17 October - 21 December 2019

JUMP! — Curated by Sian Bonnell

4 October - 26 October 2019

UCLan: Brilliant City

30 October - 16 November 2019

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Derek Man & Tobias Brebner: Tong Yan Gai — Chinatown

7 October - 24 October 2019

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YAN WANG PRESTON: HE

17 October - 21 December 2019

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A Room of Our Own: a Fast Forward Women in Photography Exhibition

17 October - 21 December 2019

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Dinu Li: The Anatomy of Place

17 October - 21 December 2019

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NORTH: FASHIONING IDENTITY

14 September - 21 December 2019

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Peer to Peer

17 October - 22 December 2019

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SIXTEEN at Ellesmere Port Library

19 September - 27 September 2019

WE ARE KIRKBY

23 September - 16 November 2019

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DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY: OPEN SOURCE 11 – NATHAN CUTLER

1 September - 30 September 2019

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DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY: OPEN SOURCE 10 – JOCELYN ALLEN

1 August - 31 August 2019

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A Portrait Of…

2 August - 29 September 2019

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DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY: OPEN SOURCE 09 – ARABELLE ZHUANG

1 July - 31 July 2019

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Close Attention

11 July - 21 July 2019

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New York Scene/Unseen: Keith Haring and Friends

14 June - 7 July 2019

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DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY: OPEN SOURCE 08 – DENISA N. MOLNAR

1 June - 30 June 2019

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DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY: TRANSFORMATIVE MOMENTS – STEPHANIE WYNNE

1 April - 7 July 2019

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DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY: OPEN SOURCE 07 – MARIE SMITH

1 May - 31 May 2019

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VR — Wake Up Together (Ren Hang & Where Love is Illegal)

23 April 2019

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Belonging: Students of Whitby High School

18 April - 28 April 2019

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DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY: OPEN SOURCE 06 – MARIA ANSELL

1 April - 30 April 2019

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DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY: OPEN SOURCE 05 – ELIZABETH GLEAVE

1 March - 31 March 2019

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DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY: OPEN SOURCE 04 – LEIA MORRISON

1 February - 28 February 2019

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Here And Now

19 February - 23 February 2019

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PAULINE ROWE & DAVE LOCKWOOD – THE ALLOTMENTS

29 August - 28 September 2019

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TABITHA JUSSA & JOHN DAVIES – CAN’T SEE THE WOOD FOR THE TREES

6 June - 4 July 2019

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Stephanie Wynne and Stephen McCoy — Triangulation

18 July - 24 August 2019

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Käthe Buchler
Käthe Buchler

REVIEW: ‘BEYOND THE BATTLEFIELDS’ AT GROSVENOR GALLERY

A classically posed portrait of a young boy, smiling into the lens; he clutches an almost comically large white rabbit in his lap. This is the image chosen to advertise ‘Beyond the Battlefields’, an exhibition of images made by Käthe Buchler around the timeline of World War One.
At a glance, the image could very well be a school portrait or even a family snapshot, the careful preservation made by mothers and fathers dutifully carried out in an attempt to elongate the unknowing delight of youth. Upon closer inspection, the boy’s smile is made up of twisted teeth. A rabbit’s claw appears extended. Accompanying wall text placed at intervals throughout the show introduce the boy as ‘Collecting King Willy von Hinten, the most diligent collector of 1915’. The title was most likely given by Buchler. The rabbit, however, was in fact awarded by local German authorities in exchange for his metal scavenging abilities. The text presents an altogether more harrowing image of food, labour and material shortages – Willy’s portrait was taken only a year before the ‘Turnip Winter’; the young scavenger’s previously unclenched grip appears much closer.

Käthe Buchler’s depictions of German civilians in wartime are tender, composed, and do not appear entirely out of place next to her early autochromes of flower arrangements; these are images of stillness in a time of agitated uncertainty, where any degree of normality suddenly becomes poetic. Read in the context of a gallery, the photographs are heavily symbolic, common visual metaphors such white rabbits, collected shoes and oversized soldier’s uniforms repeat through frames. A group of children in costume as goats and sheep kneel as a large figure dressed as a wolf looms, pantomime-style, towards the edge of the frame. Buchler’s images dissolve the expected male-centric spiel covering the glory, and tragedy of war – the gallantry of Buchler’s narrative comes from the prevailing sense of humanity of the women and children left behind. Those who, malnourished and tired, continued raising families, took on gruelling jobs and maintained society as husbands and fathers were fighting a failing war. As much as rabbits, wolves and empty shoes become poetic emblems of innocence, hunger and violence, a strictly historic reading of the images still offers a touching reality of theatre performances and small trophies continuing to exist during an impoverished time – revealing perhaps a more tangible romance.

Insulated by her position as a partially deaf woman of considerable wealth and status in a very disciplined society, Buchler approaches the everyday civilian as something of an outsider, a woman who can command sitters to pose and has the obvious technical ability to capture a striking portrait. Despite this, Käthe Buchler was described as an amateur; a title weighted with negative connotations, of incapability and lack of professionalism, an assumption that Buchler was of no threat. It was this degree of translucency, which allowed her to carve out a creative agency, challenging the regimented and established hierarchy of the time and recognising others doing the same. While the expectation of men was to fight for their country, it was left to women to take up roles usually denied to them. Buchler began a series of portraits recognising women pushing the boundaries of stereotype entitled ‘Women in Men’s Jobs’. There are images of female conductresses standing side by side in sharp uniform, a ‘Carrier’ hunched double under the weight of her cargo, grinning. The various backdrops of ladders and ascending stairs in each photograph appear to be specifically chosen.

‘Beyond the Battlefields’ exists as an exhibition caught between document and sentiment, this sense of duality lies in the contrasting voices of historian, Melanie Tebbutt and visual artist, Jacqueline Butler. As co-curators of the show, Tebbutt and Butler manage to balance two very different disciplines, neither does the show feel cold and factual nor does it belittle difficult subjects with whimsy: downfalls very much possible if approached from a singular angle. The accessibility of the show does not have to rely on an audience’s ability to read the nuances of symbolism, nor does the viewer have to have a wide knowledge of the First World War. ‘Beyond the Battlefields’, which runs until 2nd March at Manchester’s Grosvenor Gallery, exists as a point of dialogue that actively confronts usual gender and generational boundaries with an authoritative level of quiet all too often forgotten. The exhibition shows the faces of survivors and the impact small gestures and moments of ingenuity have in an otherwise desolate and unsure time.

 

 

 

Review by Declan Connolly

 

Images ©Estate of Käthe Buchler – Museum für Photographie Braunschweig/Deposit Stadtarchive Braunschweig

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