One day while having a good cake at café „Sugar mama“, the owner, an old neighbour of my childhood, told me that he really likes my photos which i’ve posted on facebook. He asked me to exhibit my pictures in his café. I spontaneously said: YES! of course I would like to, not knowing what huge amount of workload it is to organize an exhibition, especially in just one month of time.
I was wondering about the topic of my first exhibition and finally decided to show my home town frankfurt out of my perspective, so other citizens visiting the gallery could get surprised about frankfurt and get to know their multifaceted city better or even feel connected with what they see. This was also name giving: FRANKFURT UNXPECTED
Another issue I was thinking about a lot was how to sell the pictures. My wish to offer the photos at a payable price seemed to be difficult to achieve, as prints in good quality are quite expensive. Finally I got the idea. My room mate Lisa was creating photo cubes out of wood last christmas with a technology called photo-transfer aka potching. It is quite simple: Just print out your picture with a laser printer, brush it with the potch glue and attach it to any flat surface e.g. wood, metal, glas etc. When the glue is dry just take a wet sponge and rub of the paper and the photo will remain.
After buying some bottles of potch glue I first tested some different materials. I had arround 4-5 plates done, facing the white backsides of the prints. While rubbing off the paper carefully I was enjoying not knowing which image I was holding. Even as the photographer I had to rub away almost half of the paper to really recognize the photo. I felt that this could be an additional value to sell prints to the people without letting them know which photo they’re buying. At the same time this was a great way to be able to offer photos at the exhibition, without having pre-printed every single image in a certain number of pieces.
In total I chose to show and sell 100 selected photos. 50 in black and white showing demonstrations in frankfurt and 50 colored ones picturing illegal underground raves. This made it even more exciting to the buyers to purchase a photo.
As I already mentioned, I wanted to keep the price low. I found wooden plates to print on for about 80 cents per unit at my local DIY market (30x30cm). The A3 prints itself were costing 20 cents or 1 euro, depending if bw or colored. All together this was a really economical solution, eventhough it took a lot of energy and patience to produce each picture. It took days of work to get all the 100 pieces done in time for the opening day of the exhibition (thx to everybody who helped!). Still thinking about the number on the price shield I got the idea to not establish any fixed price. Instead I decided to throw the dices. Trusting stochastics my customers had to throw 5 dices to generate the price with adding all pips. Coincidence decided – 5 to 30 Euro for a hand made print on wood which made the purchase even more playful and affordable. Aim achieved!
Another arty idea I had was to print on both sides – on one side the photo and on the backside the logo of the exhibition with pictograms showing what to do. I loved the fact that you first have to destroy to finally set free the photo. Some people later told me that they did not wanted to rub away all the paper – to show this process of revealing.
We finished to produce the pictures just in time, but how to present them properly? Two days before the vernissage I had the idea to staple them to a spiral tower – and let the tower spin slowly. This was a task for Gyro Gearloose Alexander Scharf, a scientist and friend of mine who has incredible skills in building crazy things. He told me to find a microwave and bring him the spinning motor (thx ben for sacrificing your microwave ^^) and just one day later I got a wonderful white painted spinning foundation for my spiral tower which worked perfectly!
A tricky to-do was also to find a satisfying concept how to hang the pictures on the walls. As the pictures were in a square format I decided to combine them into big squares. But it’s not only about positioning. Even more important is light. And the lighting at the café was so bad that i had to find a solution quickly. Again i had a kind of special idea which i wasn´t able to achieve by myself. The idea was to have a dark atmosphere with just a spot light which highlights certain photos. I asked my friend Nico Dietzel from 802 Networks, who is a genious when it comes to electricity and hardware. He borrowed me a moving head, a light that can be programmed and is capable to move from one photo to another.
Maybe the most important part of having an exhibition – especially if it is your first one – is the marketing. No party without people. Thanks to my good friend Isabella Caldart who wrote an article about my plans people got in touch with the exhibition quite quickly. I also created a facebook group, an instagram account and wrote emails to potential advetisers like my local radio channel radio X. I printed 1000 flyers, made a catchy stopmotion movie with them and soon I got contacted by FAZ and Frankfurt Journal, who also wrote articles in their newspapers and online magazines.
I was really surprised how many people attended the exhibition. The café was so crowded that most of the people were standing outside during cold january. But thanks to the pirate bar everybody could warm theirselves up with some tasty rum. It was a pleasure for me to see all the people using little sponges to rub the paper of the photos. Some exchanged bw to colored ones between eachother, others threw the dices several times. Some guys came to me and told me that they have recognized themselves on a demonstration picture, another one was happy to see photos of raves he enjoyed as well.
The pictures were displayed from january till february 2016. At the end there was a finissage for which I’ve produced another 100 prints. Again almost all of them were gambled.
Looking back this exhibition was a successfull adventure bringing my photography onto walls of a lot of homes.
THX to Lisa and Magda for helping out with the prints, Tarek from TSM-Elektro for the electricity and as well big THX to the talented Nicola Rehbein for taking pictures and filming this special night.