Photography and literature. The fictionalization of a document. The current INN SITU project reflects the process of a transformation through narrative appropriation. The objective reproduction of streets, village views, landscapes – the stops along a journey – is transformed into the backdrop of a narrative. Supposedly silent, hundred-year-old, black-and-white prints of amateur quality suddenly become the spaces of imagination of three people with their yearnings, ideas and fates. The two-dimensional photographic representations of sights seen a thousand times turn into the stage of a love story.
The original visual material is ideal: a series of early photographs about which we know virtually nothing. Purchased in 2007 in an eBay auction by the library of the Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum (Tyrolean State Museum Ferdinandeum) and consisting of roughly 60 photographs of a trip from Munich to Tyrol. Two men and a woman visit selected sites in Tyrol and return home eight days later via Kufstein. The photos are taken in 1912; ten years later, one of the protagonists has a bookbinder turn the whole bundle into an elaborately bound album, which he gives to his wife as a memento of their first holiday together.
The identities of the three figures, what their family backgrounds or individual relationships to each other are – these things remain a mystery. A narrative void, at the same time a literary carte blanche for a writer of Verena Roßbacher’s calibre, whom we have commissioned to view the album as the point of departure for a picture story.
Two spaces – one transformation
In one room of the gallery we show the photographs from the album in the historical and scholarly context of an informative exhibition about the history of travel to Tyrol compiled from the collection of the museum library of the Ferdinandeum. In the other, the photos become elements of a literary-photographic road movie: an artistic amalgam of document and fiction and at the same time the contemplation of photography as an everyday cultural practice over the generations – from our great-grandparents’ day to the present.
Born in Bludenz/Vorarlberg in 1979, grew up in Austria and Switzerland, studied philosophy, German philology, and theology for several semesters in Zurich before transferring to the German Institute for Literature in Leipzig. She teaches creative writing at the Swiss Institute for Literature in Biel.
“Ich war Diener im Hause Hobbs” is her third novel published by Kiepenheuer & Witsch following her debut “Verlangen nach Drachen” and “Schwätzen und Schlachten”. Verena Roßbacher lives and works in Berlin.
A cooperation with the library of the Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum. Curator and basic concept: Hans-Joachim Gögl, artistic director INN SITU. Creation of the companion exhibition: Roland Sila in collaboration with Iris Kathan library of the Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum. Video production: Thomas Osl. The author herself will be reading.