Q&A with Anne-Marie Beckmann, Director, Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation

Published by: The WFE Focus Team Jun 2019

The Art Collection Deutsche Börse, a renowned collection of contemporary photography, is celebrating its 20 anniversary with a series of different exhibitions. Congratulations! We are keen to hear what has been going on so far.

Thank you! This year is in fact a very special one for us, and we are celebrating it with a special programme. We at the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation are taking advantage of this occasion to look at our own collection through different eyes, and have therefore chosen to present it under the motto 'from another perspective'. We have invited external experts to share their views of the collection with us. This has been a very interesting experience, allowing us to gain new insights and a fresh perspective on the extensive collection of photographs. The anniversary programme kicked off with the exhibition called 'We love Photography!', curated by the British artist and collector Martin Parr, and 'Changing Views – 20 Years of Art Collection Deutsche Börse' at the Foam Fotografiemuseum in Amsterdam, which showcases various thematic facets of the Collection.

You recently opened two exhibitions at the corporate headquarters, The Cube in Eschborn: 'Favourite Pieces – The Staff Selection' and the 'Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2019'. What are these all about?

Let me start with 'Favourite Pieces'. We extended the theme of 'from another perspective' to a very special and important audience – the employees of Deutsche Börse, who are surrounded with the photographs in their daily business life. For this exhibition, we invited them to name their personal favourites from the Collection. The 50 displayed works from the collection are supplemented with employees’ quotations explaining their selection. This turned out to be a very interesting and personal collection of statements by people looking at the works from various angles. With the resulting presentation, the foundation is carrying on the continuous dialogue that has been maintained with staff since the very start of the Collection. This stimulating, constructive and at times challenging exchange is an elementary and extremely enriching aspect of the work of the Foundation. This concept of allowing employees to contribute to the activities of the Art Collection is essential, and allows the photographs to play a role in the company in the long term: corporate culture in the making.

  • Arwed Messmer
    RAF No Evidence/Kein Beweis, 2017
    © Arwed Messmer: research concept and editing; source: Berlin Police Historical Collection, 2018

  • Laia Abril
    Magdalena, 32, Poland, 2018 © Laia Abril, 2018

  • Susan Meiselas
    Villagers watch exhumation at a former Iraqi military headquarters outside Sulaymaniyah, Northern Iraq, 1991
    ©Susan Meiselas

  • Mark Ruwedel
    “Typical American House“, Nevada Test Site, Yucca Flat, Apple II Test Site, 1995
    ©Mark Ruwedel

  •  Chantal Michel, Reality represents an unwariness that has occured, 1999 © Chantal Michel

    The second exhibition - 'Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2019' - just moved from the Photographers’ Gallery in London to your premises. There are numerous awards honouring contemporary artists. What is special about this one?

    The Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize is neither focused on young talents, nor is it an award for lifetime achievement. The award was established by The Photographers’ Gallery in 1996 and subsequently awarded in collaboration with the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation. It recognises living artists of any age and nationality deemed to have made a significant contribution to photography over the previous 12 months in Europe, either in form of an exhibition or publication. These prerequisites have proven to ensure that the Prize is a significant barometer of innovation and quality for the medium. This year’s finalists are Laia Abril, Susan Meiselas, Arwed Messmer and Mark Ruwedel. They all survey a vast range of topical issues through the lens and language of photography. Collectively their projects explore state and gender politics, social injustice, human rights and conceptual approaches to image making. The works of four finalists are on display at our premises in Frankfurt/ Eschborn until 24 August and we offer free guided tours.

    Looking back at 20 years of Art Collection Deutsche Börse – how has your work evolved? 

    Indeed, this is not only an occasion to celebrate, but also a wonderful opportunity to look back and see how our collection and funding have developed over the past two decades. We are quite proud that is has evolved to a remarkable collection, which currently comprises more than 1,800 works by around 130 artists from 27 nations, and is growing continuously. The decision to acquire art also marked the starting point for other commitments to photography, through numerous cultural collaborations and initiatives which continued to expand with the establishment of the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation in 2015. Supporting young artists is particularly important to us. We do this through scholarships and prizes, but also exhibitions that enable them to present their work to a wider audience. This anniversary year is a real milestone, and we are excited about entering a new decade full of interesting and stimulating projects about and around contemporary photography.