For over three decades now Michael Wesely has created revelatory photographs using large-format lenses on self-made, long-exposure cameras. The resulting exposure times are extraordinary-not merely minutes and hours, but days, months and even years. Wesely’s camera catches the enormity of everything that passes before it, crystallizing reality into unexpected, densely layered and sometimes ghostly pictures. Familiar objects often become only partially recognizable, opening up new perceptions of time and space.
Wesely’s highly original work contrasts to the more traditional approach of photographers carefully staging their compositions and directing the subject. His images seem caught in the processes of both becoming and unraveling; what remains is fragmentary, comparable to the ambiguity of Michelangelo Antonioni’s thriller Blow-Up. Wesely sees his photos as archival excerpts from the present, inviting us to consider them as “visual archaeology” and to imagine our own stories behind their creation. The Camera Was Present celebrates his 20-year collaboration with Galerie Fahnemann and traces the evolution of his photography from 2010 to 2020.