19 November 2021
Post originally written in: Deutsch Information An automatic machine translation. Super fast and almost perfect.

It was some years ago that Roland Sila, head of the Ferdinandeum library, discovered a photo album on eBay. It documented a journey that had taken three people from Munich through Tyrol in 1912. The head of the Ferdinandeum Library bought the album for the library. There it lay dormant until it became the central object of the current exhibition "Verena Roßbacher: Das Fotoalbum. Pictures of a Journey, from a Literary Perspective". It is being shown as part of the INN SITU series at the BTV Stadtforum. Supplemented by a literary search for traces and a small historical exhibition about travelling at that time.


Hans-Joachim Gogl, director of the BTV Stadtforum, engaged the writer Verena Roßbacher to write a story for the 60 pictures. For eight days in 1912, the unknown protagonists - one woman, two men - had been on the road in an automobile. They had stopped and taken photos in Kufstein, Innsbruck and Zirl, among other places. Ten years later, a bookbinder designed an album with the pictures. One of the protagonists gave it to his wife and in memory of this first holiday trip together. A trip, even with one's own automobile, was quite a luxurious thing back then. And only well-off people could afford a camera.


A road trip at the beginning of amateur photography, individual tourism and automobile travel. The album provides no information about the three protagonists, the background to the journey, the choice of route, the motifs. Which leaves plenty of room for an imagined story, a literary exploration.

This task was taken on by the writer Verena Roßbacher. Born in Vorarlberg, she lives in Berlin and teaches creative writing at the Swiss Literature Institute in Biel. The narrative she weaves around the album images is punchy, refreshing, full of witty twists. A wonderful listening pleasure, which can be enjoyed as a literary road movie in the exhibition "Verena Roßbacher: Das Fotoalbum. Pictures of a Journey, Literarily Viewed".

The historical photographs may seem unspectacular, even downright unwieldy, to our modern viewing habits. Roßbacher playfully succeeds in making connections to the Instagram generation. She changes the way visitors look at the images on display. Even more, she motivates the visitors to continue building the story, to invent their own stories about this album.


At the same time, this literary journey through the photo album is embedded in a brief history of travel at that time. The show is arranged with objects from the Ferdinandeum Library. Among other things, we learn what travel cost around 1912, which travel guides were available, which routes tourists particularly liked to take, and which motifs were especially in demand. "Verena Roßbacher: The Photo Album. Bilder einer Reise, literarisch betrachtet" is a delightful exhibition that artistically fills gaps in the documentary tradition and shows us a fascinating interpretation of this anonymous photo album.

Exhibition: Verena Roßbacher: The Photo Album. Pictures of a journey, viewed literarily
Until 22 January 2022

INN SITU Gallery at BTV Stadtforum
Stadtforum 1
6020 Innsbruck
Opening hours: MO-FR 11.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m., SA 11.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m.
Free admission

Further information at www.innsitu.at
On the organiser's website you will also find the current Covid safety regulations

Photos unless otherwise stated: © Susanne Gurschler

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