The German photography student Jana Bissdorf has been awarded with this year’s “HfG Fotoförderpreis of the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation”, and Foam has announced their Talents 2018, which you are also supporting. What is your engagement in the field of contemporary photography all about?
The Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation is a Frankfurt-based non-profit organisation - our focus is on collecting, exhibiting and promoting contemporary photography. The support of young artists is an important part of our activities. This includes awards, scholarships and exhibitions in cooperation with international, regional and local partners.
The HfG prize, for example, is a longstanding cooperation for upcoming talents in our region – it has been awarded since 2010 to students at the Offenbach University of Art and Design (HfG) who focus on the medium of photography. This year’s winner, Jana Bissdorf, won the prize for her work 'ways to happiness'.
You also mentioned our youngest cooperation with the Fotografie Museum Amsterdam (Foam), which was initiated last year. Twenty photographers who have been selected for the annual Foam Talent programme will be featured in the upcoming Foam Magazine, and will travel internationally with talks, events and a large-scale presentation.
Furthermore, together with the Photographers’ Gallery in London, we award the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize, certainly one of the most prestigious international art awards. The prize, though, is not focusing on young talents so much, but can be seen more as a barometer of excellence and innovation in contemporary photography.
Deutsche Börse Group is one of the largest exchange organisations worldwide. How did you get involved in contemporary photography?
Deutsche Börse Group started to collect and promote contemporary photography in 1999. The construction of our new headquarters was the starting point for this initiative. From the beginning, the focus was on contemporary photography, a modern medium, which at that time gained more and more acceptance as its own art form and fitted well to our then still young company. This has proven itself even now, as photography is bringing in another perspective of the world and showing a different aspect of our corporate culture. Following the objective to make this commitment permanent, Deutsche Börse transferred its cultural activities to the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation in 2015.
Speaking of collecting - with the Art Collection Deutsche Börse you have compiled an internationally renowned Art Collection. What is the main focus of your collection?
By now, the Art Collection comprises 1,800 works by around 120 international artists. It is dedicated to a variety of central themes of contemporary photography from the mid-20th century onwards. The subjects of the collection range from landscape imagery, portraits, still life, and interiors, to street photography.
The inclusion of extensive work groups of documentary and reportage photography in the collection serves to show that the production of museum-quality work does not happen for the art market or museum walls alone. What all works have in common, however, is that they convey the artists’ exploration and contemplations of the ‘conditio humana’, the conditions of human existence and of people’s ways of adapting to their environment.
The collection is open to the public at Deutsche Börse’s headquarters The Cube in Eschborn/Frankfurt with special exhibition areas. But, of course, we are not a museum; the largest group of our audience is our employees, not only in Eschborn, but also at our other international locations. To give them a deeper understanding, we also offer an extensive education programme, from guided tours to artist talks.
What can we expect next? Can you give us a little look ahead?
We have an exciting year ahead of us. In 2019, the Art Collection Deutsche Börse will celebrate its 20th anniversary and we are planning a series of special activities.
We are very happy that the British photographer and collector Martin Parr is curating our anniversary exhibition ‘We love photography!’ which will open in The Cube in Eschborn/Frankfurt on 31 January 2019.
We will also show the exhibition of the Foam Talents, and the anniversary programme includes further international exhibition collaborations as well as a new photobook on the Art Collection. We are very much looking forward to next year’s anniversary!