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© Archiv Robert Lebeck

9 march - 25 june 2023

chronicle of a moment

photos, and their stories, from the fricke collection

the object itself as chronicle

A photojournalist hides behind a curtain, waiting for the right moment. A courageous photographer ventures out on stormy seas off Helgoland, but, due to severe seasickness, has to return to dry land with only one shot in his camera.

A photo of a family in a car – at first glance just a road trip snapshot – turns out, in reality, to be a portrayal of tragedy and misery. A statesman, on his way to receive the Charlemagne Prize in Aachen, is forced to drive past local citizens protesting the award. An invalid, limping his way along a bombed-out street in Cologne shortly after the end of the war in 1945, was actually hired and paid for that stroll by the city.

Featuring around 40 photos, many of them iconic, taken between 1912 and 1997 and preserved in the photographic collection of the couple Karsten and Christiane Fricke, this exhibition reveals the actual stories behind such captured moments – stories that, in many cases, we never got to hear.

As the saying goes: “A picture is worth a thousand words.” But words can also manipulate an image, influencing it and drastically altering the way we look at it. The story behind a photo is just as significant as what we are looking at. What was going on behind the camera? What happened to the shot after it was taken? What circumstances and decisions influenced the look and feel of the print, and its “backstory”? There is a before and an after – a multitude of moments that a photo can tell us about.

The Object itself as chronicle.

The exhibition showcases works from the Fricke Collection by 24 photographers, including Franz Schensky, Rosemarie Clausen, Hermann Claasen, Robert Lebeck, Barbara Klemm, Stefan Moses, Bruce Davidson, Bettina Flitner, Toni Schneiders, Mary Ellen Mark und Ragnar Axelsson. Complemented by their background stories, the photos offer us the opportunity to gain a second, deeper insight into what was actually being chronicled.


Wed 8 March 2023 at 5:30 pm


Sarvenaz Ayooghi


A catalogue of the exhibition will be available with ca. 112 pages and 45 illustrations (b/w, in German).


© Mary Ellen Mark/The Mary Ellen Mark Foundation


© Ragnar Axelsson