Sic transit gloria expositio
A fine crisp Sunday morning in March a crowd gathers at a former pallet warehouse on the outskirts of Unna, north-east of Cologne. With canapés and champagne, an introduction from the President of the RPS German Chapter, Siegfried Rubbert and a greeting from Council, they are invited into an exhibition of photographs with the title “Transience”
The members of the German Chapter had spent a year working on this theme. A collection of 197 images were sent to Roy Robertson (UK) and Marten von Hadel (NL) for a final selection of 98 photographs.
A gallery in Cologne had been booked for an extended exhibition but at the last moment, the gallery withdrew. A member found a pallet warehouse which was being vacated on a Thursday and being taken over the following Tuesday. The venue had been found. The space was huge and without any artificial lighting, but the sunlight streaming through the high windows was diffused by years of grime. Piles of old pallets had been left and together with free patches of wall, these became the support for the exhibition. Groups of uniformly framed photographs were nailed to the walls between the old piping and hung from stacks of pallets, interspersed with empty Jack Daniels bottles – a different view of transience.
The exhibitors had explored a wide range of interpretations of the theme, things that will pass, things at the moment of fading away and several memento mori. A photograph of a skull, looking like a lost Rembrandt, sat half-way up a grubby metal staircase apparently leading nowhere. A picture of an overflowing waste bin was displayed in the top of an overflowing waste bin. With background music provided by two singers who chose the songs to remind the largely mature audience of their past youth, the public moved around the vast space in groups, discovering pictures and becoming involved in intense discussions.
After about three hours, the public were shepherded outside and the exhibition closed. The next day Chris Renk and his colleagues would pack everything away. In the car park, the visitors stayed, discussing the images and saying their goodbyes, as at one side a piano with brass candle holders quietly burned to ash and metal. The pictures all exist somewhere but the exhibition ceased to be after a short brilliant display to the world
Sic transit gloria expositio.
An extraordinary event. Magical.
by Richard N Tucker ARPS