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Seemingly fallen out of time, Atelier Hoffmann, the oldest daylight atelier in Basel, was built well over a hundred years ago. Three generations of photographers and artists used to work here. In today’s era of the ubiquitous selfie, it recalls a long-gone time when a visit to the photographer’s was still an event, the photographic portrait a bourgeois status symbol. Gerhard Hintermann follows this tradition with his images, which were inspired by the genius loci of Atelier Hoffmann and its light, which changed depending on the weather and time of day. Hintermann, who has frequently explored the possibilities and limits of the portrait, uses the stylistic devices of portrait photography at the turn of the century to capture a fictional, different, and queer past. The love of composing, of browsing around thrift shops for costumes and props remains in balance with the portrayer’s wish to make a truthful statement about his model. Hintermann photographed friends and acquaintances as well as people in the street who caught his eye. Each portrait seems to tell a story, making the essence of the portrayed visible through disguise, revealing a truth of the masks. Together, they create a dense universe of figures, inviting the viewer to think of stories which connect these images.

Text by Martin Jäggi
Lecturer on the theory of photography and artistic practice, freelance publicist (Weltwoche, Tages-Anzeiger)

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