Time Travelers: 1 exhibition, 7 years of photography and 25 lives

What would I say to my child self? What person or event changed my life and shaped my future me? As those 25 protagonists of “Time Travelers” exhibition, I tried myself to find some answers. Because present, past & future, in other words, dreams and hopes versus reality could actually be the message of the newest exhibition to put on to-see list. If you are in Cologne, on 23 February 2022, the exhibition “Time Travelers” by German photographer Petra Gerwers will open at the Michael Horbach Foundation. 

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Klaus Honnef, June 2021, Köln, copyright and courtesy Petra Gerwers

This project, which Gerwers started seven years ago and shot mainly with a Leica Monochrom camera, revolves around the discussion of hopes and dreams and the reality of one’s life – and how the depicted persons deal with and communicate them. 

Petra Gerwers: Time Travelers – from 24 February to 3 March 2022. At Michael Horbach Foundation exhibition space Wormser Str. 23, 50677 Cologne. 

Petra Gerwers, November 2021, Paris, coypright and courtesy Thomas Gerwers

The exhibition, for short: Each “time traveler” is portrayed in a three-part series – consisting of a photo of themselves as a child, a handwritten letter by the time traveler to their child self, and a current photo of the protagonist, taken by the photographer Petra Gerwers. Together they tell a life story.

Ivo von Renner, September 2021, Hamburg, copyright and courtesy Petra Gerwers

The exhibition, long story: The time travelers imagine what they would tell their former child self, in a letter. For their present-day photo, every protagonist was asked: “What place, person, or past event changed your life in the past or shaped the future course of your life?”. Plus, each of their childhood photo gives an impression of what the time travelers looked like and how they acted when they were young. 

Nadine Dinter, June 2021, Berlin, copyright and courtesy Petra Gerwers

These individual narratives provide a stage for each of the 25 protagonists, including:

  • Nick Ut, AP photographer (photographed the “Napalm Girl of Vietnam,” Phan Thi Kim Phuc), Los Angeles
  • Kim Phuc, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Canada
  • Kristian Schuller, fashion photographer, Berlin
  • Klaus Honnef, art historian, art critic, exhibition curator, art photography theorist, Cologne
  • Michael Horbach, art collector and founder of the Horbach Foundation, Cologne 
  • Wolfgang Zurborn, photographer, teaches photography at various higher education institutions, Cologne
  • Andrea Lüdke, actress, Hamburg
  • Ivo von Renner, photographer, Hamburg
  • Henry Dallal, photographer, Iran
  • Rolf Scheider, casting director and entertainer, Paris and Berlin
  • Saskia Brieger, stewardess, Erkelenz
  • Thomas Gerwers, publisher, ProfiFoto magazine, Mönchengladbach 
  • Peter Franck, photographer, Stuttgart
  • Frank Dürrach, co-founder and teacher, Fotoschule Köln, Cologne
  • Damian Zimmermann, photographer, Cologne
  • Petra Gerwers, photographer, online editor, ProfiFoto magazine, Mönchengladbach
Nick Ut and Kim Phuc, June 2015, Hamburg_copyright and courtesy Petra Gerwers

About the photographer: “Petra Gerwers already had her first camera at age nine and has known ever since that the medium of photography can offer something quite extraordinary: an immediate dialogue with the world around her, without needing to subordinate what she sees to a conceptual logic. Trusting in her intuitive sense of perception, she has developed a highly personal, subjective visual language through a variety of photographic projects.” (Wolfgang Zurborn)

Andrea Lüdke, September 2021, Hamburg, copyright und courtesy Petra Gerwers

Photography: (c) Petra Gerwers


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