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Petra Gerwers: Time Travelers

On 23 February 2022, the new exhibition Time Travelers by German photographer Petra Gerwers will open at the Michael Horbach Foundation in Cologne.

Andrea Lüdke, September 2021, Hamburg, © 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 ones life – and how the depicted persons deal with and communicate them.

Nadine Dinter, Juni 2021, Berlin, © and courtesy Petra Gerwers

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.

Nick Ut and Kim Phuc, Juni 2015, Hamburg, © 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

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

Letter: The time travelers imagine what they would tell their former child self. What insights do they wish to share? The protagonists can decide what they want to convey and what topics to address. Handwritten letters are preferable because every handwriting is unique and gives a further impression of the individual.

Present-day photograph: The time travelers were asked: “What place, person, or past event changed your life in the past or shaped the future course of your life?” The time traveler is portrayed by the photographer behind a window, with an image of this life-changing element reflecting on the surface. The protagonists look out of the window into the distance, into the future – but might also gaze inward, giving viewers a hint of their emotional world. A closer look and more detailed examination of the subtly reflected images allows viewers to discover further facets of the protagonists.

Childhood photograph: This gives an impression of what the time travelers looked like and how they acted when they were young. The time traveler’s letter addresses this child.

Petra Gerwers


“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)

Petra Gerwers: Time Travelers
24 February – 3 March 2022

Opening: ​​23 February 2022, 7 – 9 pm
​Pre-registration required at: ​and a valid 2G proof

Michael Horbach Foundation exhibition space
​Wormser Str. 23, 50677 Cologne
Closing event: ​3 March 2022, 7 – 9 pm

In a former art gallery and studio in Colognes southern quarter, the Michael Horbach foundation opened a gallery called Kunsträume on May 1, 2011. Exhibits from the  contemporary art collection of the foundation founder Michael Horbach will be presented in several exhibition spaces. "I want the ´Kunsträume´ to be a place for meeting and discussions," says the initiator Michael Horbach. "It is important to me, that the visitors can take a look at art without any thresholds. Especially school classes and youth groups are cordially invited."
One room is reserved for the painting of the Cologne artist Heinz Zolper. Another exhibition space is dedicated to artists like Blalla Hallmann, Thomas Huber, Werner Wefers, Dieter Teusch and Peter Angermann, who have already been promoted and represented by Michael Horbachs former gallery.
The photographic collection "Achselhaare" ("Armpit Hair") has been exhibited inter alia under the title "The other side of beauty" (1995) at the Rheinisches Landesmuseum in Bonn and will now be shown in one of the gallery´s rooms.
The collection represents predominantly contemporary photography, especially from South America and Cuba. It is the foundation founder´s particular desire to introduce their creative and socio-critically view of the world and their living conditions to the visitor. Some of the represented artists benefit from the foundation´s support for years. The Columbian artist Lucana, the German photographer Bettina Flitner, the Mexican Flor Garduño. the Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado, as well as the Cuban photographers Raul Canibaño and Juan Carlos Alom have been awarded the photography award of the foundation.
Erotic photographies from artists like Helmut Newton, Jock Sturges, Olaf Martens and Thomas Karsten are presented in another exhibition room.

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