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»Speed« — A Virtual Art Experience with CAMERA WORK Gallery

One of Berlin's most renowned photo-art galleries hosts a virtual exhibition entitled Speed. Featuring rare and famous photographic works on the theme of Motor racing, F1 and racing culture, the exhibition showcases over 40 works from the past 100 years, with contributions from 23 eminent artists.

Photos courtesy of CAMERA WORK Gallery

Michel Comte - "Michael Schumacher"
Michel Comte - "Michael Schumacher"

This story started out as one thing, and quickly became something else. That’s one of the coolest things about digging up and writing stories for a living—the element of surprise.

When a member of the SpeedHolics team caught wind of the »Speed« exhibit, hosted by Berlin based photography gallery CAMERA WORKS, we were (obviously) drawn to the cars. That’s what we’re about here after all. But after taking the online tour of their virtual gallery, I'm impressed by more than just the striking art collection. I'm blown away by the entire concept and execution of the virtual exhibition.

Picture this: I’m sitting in a café in Cape Town, telling my colleagues in Italy and Switzerland about a gallery tour I’d just done in Berlin. This is much more than just a chance to look at some cool images by leading artists, it’s a full 3-D rendering of the gallery and the works themselves.

I couldn’t encourage you enough to click through and take a walk through the two floors of the beautiful Berlin gallery. But how’s the exhibition itself? In a word — brilliant.

The main themes are motor racing and Formula 1, speed, and racing lifestyle. The exhibition features more than 40 photographic works from over 100 years of history by 23 artists. Included on the credits are photographers such as Anton Corbijn, Patrick Demarchelier, David Drebin, Brian Duffy, David LaChapelle, Jim Rakete, Herb Ritts, Martin Schoeller, Ellen von Unwerth, and Albert Watson.

A really good exhibition should make us feel something. It can even make us question ourselves a little. That’s what the »Speed« exhibition does. You see, I realized while “strolling” around the empty gallery that we classic motoring lovers sometimes take our passion a little too… seriously.

Zonen Texeira - "Niki Lauda" (2006)
Zonen Texeira - "Niki Lauda" (2006)

There’s a juxtaposition of moods on show in »Speed« that shines a bright light on this. Yes, there are the serious, brooding headshots of Niki Lauda, Lewis Hamilton et al, as well as an affecting blurred image of Michael Schumacher, stood trackside with his head bowed, decked out in Marlboro emblazoned Rosso Corsa.

But just around the corner there’s a shirtless David Coulthard posing suggestively, a collection of pop culture shots featuring Mick Jagger & a leopard, Naomi Campbell, Robert Redford, and Pamela Anderson. There’s even comic actor Jason Segal straddling a tiny scooter, cigarette dangling from his lips, a garish children’s doll riding pillion.

In »Speed«, the uber-competitive meets the voguish meets the absurd.

In this way, the curation takes us into the heart of what motoring culture really is, or is at least made to be.

Sure, there’s a passion for greatness, for high performance, for breaking records, and for crushing the competition. But rolled out across cultures and away from the racetrack, there’s a sexiness, or a desire to be sexy, which runs through our relationship with cars and engines.

But there’s no attempt to embarrass us here. If anything, »Speed« gives us the opportunity to have a little laugh at ourselves as motoring culture lovers, as well as the celebrities. All the while, it opens up a window through which we can stop and really admire the greats of racing, as well as those watchful observers who captured those moments and those personalities.

See it for yourself here.

Albert Watson - "Naomi Campbell in Car" (1991)
Albert Watson - "Naomi Campbell in Car" (1991)

After being so impressed by the »Speed« virtual exhibition, we just had to reach out to Alexander Golya to tell us more about CAMERA WORK.

Here’s how our conversation went:

SpeedHolics: Tell us a bit about CAMERA WORK

Alexander Golya: CAMERA WORK Gallery was founded in 1997, and is situated in City West in central Berlin. We specialize in classic and contemporary photographic master works. We have had more than 150 exhibitions so far and today rank among the world’s leading galleries for photographic art.

SH: Could you describe the Gallery to someone who has never been there? Tell us about the aesthetic of the space and the type of photo art you “typically” display.

AG: CAMERA WORK Gallery is based in a 130-year-old building that once was a humble shed. With high ceilings, two floors, five exhibition rooms and more than 200 square meters of exhibition space, the gallery combines a sublime atmosphere with an elegant, high-quality interior. The gallery’s aim is two-fold: to give art collectors a unique experience in seeing art, and to give artists the opportunity to exhibit masterworks in a space that has multiple curating options. We can show classic masterworks and contemporary art at the same time. Exhibitions like Richard Avedon, Peter Lindbergh, Irving Penn, Herb Ritts, Patrick Demarchelier, or Albert Watson underline the classic feelin. Meanwhile, contemporary photographic artists like Christian Tagliavini, Martin Schoeller, David Yarrow, Eugenio Recuenco, and David Drebin can create a modern atmosphere. This gives us different options on how to present their works.

David Drebin - "Wheels and Heels" (2013)
David Drebin - "Wheels and Heels" (2013)

SH: When did you open the Virtual Gallery, and why did you do it? Was it Covid-19 related or did it already exist?

AG: It was actually a coincidence that the CAMERA WORK Virtual Gallery launched in the time of the pandemic! Since we operate worldwide with collectors on all continents, it’s been a long term aim to create a special virtual gallery that gives our clients the CAMERA WORK Gallery experience wherever they are. It provides our collectors and art-interested users a great option to explore our artists and their works in an innovative way. As we had a clear understanding and goal of how our virtual gallery should be, we couldn’t make any compromises. For that reason it took several years to bring our virtual gallery to perfection.

SH: Am I right to assume that the virtual gallery is a rendering of the real life, physical gallery? If so, how did you go about creating it virtually?

AG: That’s exactly right. The Virtual Gallery is a 1:1 virtual exhibition space of CAMERA WORK Gallery. You can navigate the rooms as if you were there. All colors, patterns, and even the floors are shaped as they are at the physical space. With such a unique gallery space in Berlin, we wanted to transfer this experience to the virtual world. It took several months of work and energy to create this experience, but it turned out to be an incomparable virtual gallery in the art world.

Elliot Erwitt - "Wyoming" (1954)
Elliot Erwitt - "Wyoming" (1954)

SH: Being honest, do you feel that visitors miss out on anything by visiting online rather than in person?

AG: Obviously, there are aspects of art that you can’t experience online. The paper, the history of the artwork, the smell, and even the complete color palette of an artwork can only be explored in real life. However, CAMERA WORK Virtual Gallery provides the best opportunity to experience art online. We can curate individual exhibitions for particular collectors. If there is a collector who is looking for a work by Martin Schoeller, for example, we can curate a complete and individual Martin Schoeller exhibition for him in a short space of time. Thus we can focus on his/her personal wishes. Another advantage is that you anonymously can visit CAMERA WORK in our CAMERA WORK Virtual Gallery. This discretion is important for many prominent collectors.

SH: And what do they gain from visiting online rather than in person.

AG: As well as those mentioned above, CAMERA WORK Virtual Gallery also provides another advantage: With a changing art world – going more into online and becoming faster – CAMERA WORK Virtual Gallery gives us the option to curate and establish exhibitions quickly. If there is an artist who is creating new works, we can set up an exhibition within a few days. In addition, we can add multimedia, videos, acoustic interviews, and objects, that gives users another dimension in discovering art.

SH: Finally, where can our readers find the CAMERA WORK Virtual Gallery?

Hans Feurer - "Vogue Hommes" (1974)
Hans Feurer - "Vogue Hommes" (1974)

»Speed«, the virtual art exhibit, ends on May 28, 2021. If you’re reading this article after this date, you can still contact CAMERA WORK Gallery to enquire about any of the works on show.


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