press release

What happens when photographers and artists incorporate hobbies into their work as a means of challenging artistic practices and hierarchies? How do hobbyists describe their passions photographically, not least today in our era of digital communication and online blogs? This is the first major exhibition to explore the relationship between photography and hobby culture, both in connection to photography of hobbies and also photography as a hobby practice.

The exhibition The Hobbyist examines, in five chapters, what a hobby might be in an age when our notions of private and social spheres have shifted due to the impact of the internet. Could the digital era spell the end of the hobby culture? Or have the likes of YouTube and media-related developments in photography actually given it a new lease of life? Against this backdrop, the exhibition looks at the phenomenon of the hobby and reflects on its multiple layers of meaning within the seemingly contradictory spheres of leisure and work, ideology and consumerism, amateurism and professionalism.

From the hippie and avant-garde cultures of the 1960s to the DIY craze of the 1980s and today’s maker movement, The Hobbyist explores the specific places in which hobbies are pursued, and considers aspects of their commercialisation in terms of consumer and lifestyle aspirations. By way of documents from the early 1970s, such as the iconic Whole Earth Catalog, the exhibition looks back on the countercultures of that era, the hippiedom and the nascent computer community, which produced the prototypical tools that would, within the space of just two generations, shape a future where their groundbreaking innovations have become an integral part of daily life. The fact that hobbies embody a passionate and ritualised form of enthusiasm is amply illustrated by the content and scope of the photographic works whose creators often operate on the boundary between documentarian and hobbyist, expert and amateur, probing the ways in which photography relates to some very quirky, offbeat and eagerly pursued hobbies.

Kindly supported by Tarbaca Indigo Foundation and the Friends’ Association Fotomuseum Winterthur. Further support by Volkart Foundation, Ringier AG, Ria & Arthur Dietschweiler Foundation, Olga & Ernst Gubler-Hablützel Foundation and Dr. Georg and Josi Guggenheim Foundation.

The Hobbyist is curated by Pierre Hourquet, Anna Planas and Thomas Seelig. The exhibition will be accompanied by a magazine (in German and English) published by Spector Books, containing interviews with artists, short anecdotal texts and in-depth essays, i.e. by Theodor W. Adorno, Olivia Baeriswyl, Jeremy Deller/Alan Kane, Thilo Koenig, Neozoon, Evgeny Morozov and Therese Steffen.

With works of: Kenneth Anger, Diane Arbus, Benedikt Bock, Mohamed Bourouissa, Chris Burden, Ricardo Cases, Bruce Davidson, David De Beyter, Jeremy Deller/Alan Kane, Glen Denny, Jeff Divine, Craig Fineman, Robert Frank, Fuzi, Alberto García-Alix, William Gedney, Kirill Golovchenko, Carol Goodden/Gordon Matta-Clark/Tina Girouard/Suzanne Harris/Rachel Lew, Volker Heinze, Stephanie Kiwitt, Les Krims, Mike Mandel, Ari Marcopoulos, Eva & Franco Mattes, Hana Miletić, Neozoon, Simone Nieweg, Jenny Odell, Bill Owens, Lotte Reimann, Alexander Remnev, Cosmos Andrew Sarchiapone, Eckhard Schaar, Joachim Schmid, Oliver Sieber, Alec Soth and Xiaoxiao Xu