Rosier Gallery is pleased to present the color photographs of Sophie V. Herzogenberg & Ralph Schulz's collaborative series "Theaters" from September 17 - January 5, 2010. The fourteen images included in the exhibition were captured over a three year period from 2005 through 2007. Our exhibition marks the work's inaugural presentation in the United States.
"Theaters" depicts the fly system and what is variously called the flyspace, fly tower or fly gallery within a number of theaters across Germany and the New York City Opera. The fly system is a set of ropes, pulleys and counterweights that allow a crew to introduce and remove scenery, lights and microphones to and from the stage. "Flymen" operate this equipment to "fly in" the scenery from the large area above the stage, the "fly gallery".
Sophie Herzogenberg and Ralph Schulz utilize long exposures to illuminate this typically darkened, hidden area of the theater. Their exacting eye for precise detail and large scale images reflect the contemporary German photography practice carried on from the Bechers. However, by selecting a shrouded instead of a simple, obvious subject, the photographers signal the viewer to also consider a wider range of associations. Their subject matter, the theater, and long exposure working practice references the famous identically named series from Hiroshi Sugimoto.
Simplistically, the series alludes to the concept magically illustrated for most young children here in the United States by the "Wizard of Oz" that one should ignore the claim to "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain." Ms. Herzogenberg and Mr. Schulz not only illuminate the area "behind the curtain" but provide a meditation on technical change: theater flysystems have evolved from hemp rope systems with sandbags operated by stronger, larger fly workers to cable systems in which loads are moved by electric motors. While suggesting topics of discourse with the viewer, the images beautifully offer a formal depiction of line and form inherent within these complex mechanical systems.
Sophie Herzogenberg and Ralph Schulz received their Bachelor’s Degrees from Folkwang Academy in Photography and are currently working toward their Master's Degrees. The photographers have matured their aesthetic by studying with or work for leading photographers including Elge Esser, Vera Lutter and Jörg Sasse. Their work has been exhibited previously in Essen and Cologne, Germany. Both photographers recently returned to Germany after completing a year of study at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, China, on a DAAD Scholarship.