Life In Berlin: C/O Berlin - Blow Up!

Mar 10, 2015

Terry O´Neill . David Bailey photographing Moyra Swan, 1965
Credit Courtesy of Philippe Garner


An exhibition space dedicated to photography, C/O Berlin currently has three exhibitions from well-known artists and a fourth exhibition from younger unknown talent. Blow Up, the 1966 film by Antonioni is the focus of one of the exhibits. Stephan Erfurt,  head of the C/O Berlin Foundation, explains:

"Antonioni’s film is the film about photography. What is an image. The photographer offers you an image, but the image gets real into everybody’s own head. Everybody thinks about something else because it’s the image on one side and your personal experience on the other side."

How does Antonioni’s film help to expose the discrepancies between reality of life and the reality of a photograph?

"In the exhibition, this photographer thinks there is something happening in a park, probably a dead person, and then he is looking and looking and looking and he is inventing it in his head. But in reality, they are only grains. Photography is out of grains. And the grains bring things to life in your head."

The C/O Berlin Blow Up! exhibit is arranged in several different rooms each screening a certain snippet of the film.  On the wall of each room are photos specific to the film clip being shown. The viewer moves from room to room to sample the video clips and still frame photos.

"Here you see parts of the film. We have five chapters. The first chapter here is about voyeurism and watching other people. And it’s always scenes from the film, little clips, not too long so that people have the time and the patience to really look at them. And then you have photographs from Ron Galella who was of the most famous paparazzi photographers.  So it’s about real life and film and fiction and non-fiction. "

The exhibit takes the viewer from the world of voyeurism to fashion photography to the music scene of Swinging London. One of the most striking moments in the exhibit is the direct physical juxtaposition of film versus life.

"Here David is discussing with a painter about his painting. And the curator in Vienna, he found the original painting.  You see the painting in the film and you see the painting on the wall. David says, ‘Why are you painting abstract? I take concrete pictures.’ And he says, ‘I don’t care. It is only in your head where the real image will come true.’ It is so nice to see those things so close together."

Blow Up at C/O Berlin is a commentary on the blurry lines between reality and fantasy and how film allows the two to overlap.