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25.11.2022

In recent decades, many archives underwent far-reaching material changes. In the process of transferring analog material to digital data banks, small independent archives were often not able to keep up with bigger, economically driven archives, such as stock-image companies. In 2004, Ines Schaber observed that process in her work culture is our business through looking at the case of Willy Römer, who in 1919 took a photograph of the street battles in the media district of Berlin during the German Revolution. Circulating widely throughout the twentieth century, Römer’s photograph came to be owned simultaneously and successively by many archives, among them the Agentur für Bilder zur Zeitgeschichte (Agency for images on contemporary history), an independent organization established by photo historian Diethart Kerbs, the commercial stock-image agency Corbis, founded by Bill Gates, and the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz, who took over the Agentur für Bilder zur Zeitgeschichte in 2013. All three agencies handle and make available the same image based on extremely different concepts and working processes.

Schaber’s contribution revisits her 2004 work culture is our business and considers the complex issues around these three agencies. At stake in these differences are how the image’s story should be told, and how this telling is embedded in the viewing and understanding of history.

The re-viewing takes place in conversation with Stefanie Ketzscher who worked for the Agentur für Bilder für Zeitgeschichte and conceptualized the digitalization of the archive for the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz and with the art historian, curator, critic and occasional visual practitioner Tom Holert.

Besetzung des Zeitungsviertels – Revolution Januar 1919 , Aufnahmedatum: 1919, , Keine Nutzung für Merchandising-Produkte gestattet!, Copyright: bpk / Kunstbibliothek, SMB, Photothek Willy Römer / Willy Römer

Conversation with Stefanie Ketzscher

Gebäude des Berliner Tageblattes in der Schützenstraße, Aufnahmedatum: 11.01.1919, Material/Technik: Foto, Berlin, Inventar-Nr.: WR_00384_06, , Keine Nutzung für Merchandising-Produkte gestattet!, Copyright: bpk / Kunstbibliothek, SMB, Photothek Willy Römer / Willy Römer
bewaffnete Arbeiter, Soldaten und Marinesoldaten fahren auf einem Lkw am Marstall vorbei , Aufnahmedatum: 1919, , Keine Nutzung für Merchandising-Produkte gestattet!, Copyright: bpk / Kunstbibliothek, SMB, Photothek Willy Römer / Willy Römer

Conversation with Tom Holert

Kampf um das Zeitungsviertel: Geschütz, das zur Beschiessung des ” Vorwärts “- Gebäudes in Stellung gebracht ist. Foto: Photothek Willy Römer – 11.01.1919, Aufnahmedatum: 1919, , Keine Nutzung für Merchandising-Produkte gestattet!, Copyright: bpk / Kunstbibliothek, SMB, Photothek Willy Römer / Willy Römer

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