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ImagoCreating an artistic image of the self

Die Imago Camera von Susanna Kraus
Opening Times

Monday till Saturday 11.00-19.00

Map
Address Imago
Prinzenstraße 85 D
10969 Berlin-Kreuzberg
How to get there
Contact
+49 30 521 32 617
www.imagocamera.com

In between meter-high concrete walls, an obscure construction dominates the room like a requisite from the film Metropolis. Only the life-sized full body portraits along the surrounding walls hint that this centrepiece, this room inside a room, could have something to do with photography.

Susanna Kraus, heiress of this artistically constructed walk-in camera and manager of Imago, lets me step into the history of this globally unique camera, which by the 70’s was the cause of much commotion not only on the Munich and Vienna art scenes alone.

In the late 1960s, her father Werner Kraus designed the lens, which would ultimately be used  here, for Daimler-Benz. In 1972 he and his friend, artist Erhardt Hößle, brought it together with what is now open to the public at Imago: a walk-in camera that can create life-sized images on photographic paper within 12 minutes.

Analogue and one of a kind. There’s no negative, just a single photograph. As individual as art. Including the feel of the high-quality photographic paper, which Susanna Kraus actually had to have redeveloped in 2005 when a box with old images reminded her of the stored away camera, which she then brought back into operation.

Nick Cave in der Imago Camera von Susanna Kraus
Familie in der Imago Camera von Susanna Kraus
Hochzeitspaar in der Imago Camera von Susanna Kraus
Koch in der Imago Camera von Susanna Kraus
Paar in der Imago Camera von Susanna Kraus
Tätowierter in der Imago Camera von Susanna Kraus
Angela Winkler in der Imago Camera von Susanna Kraus
Ladstätter Imago Camera von Susanna Kraus
Panama in der Imago Camera von Susanna Kraus

"To see those pictures from a modern perspective was awe-inspiring and I decided, without a second thought, to rebuild the camera," she remembers. It took two years, the restoration was so extensive. But the effort paid off, and over the years Susanna Kraus has turned the Imago Camera into a completely independent, contemporary project.

Back in its day, the piece wandered from exhibition to exhibition and everyone shot by the automatic release automatically became a part of the art project. Since its resurrection, the Imago Camera has gone back on tour and has sat in Kreuzberg since 2011.

There it creates life-sized pictures in the most diverse of contexts as a felicitous fusion of interactive art and walk-in camera, from private family and individual portraits to artistically staged photos in cooperation with renowned artists and designers.

The process of taking the picture itself is so interesting that artists such as Nick Cave, Wim Wenders, and Anton Corbijn have stood before the mirror in the box in order to find the perfect pose before manually pressing the release. You can take your time stage-managing yourself and trying things out, however you’d like to see yourself photographed.

Susanna Kraus doesn’t get back to that point until the very end. In the attached dark room, she lays the photographic paper out and finalises the last details. After the self-timer is pressed, it takes about 12 minutes until the life-sized Imago photo is finished. Each image tells exactly the story the individual wants told, and in the end you have much more than a portrait.

There’s also a lighter, more modern version of the Imago Camera which can be used in cooperation and booked worldwide for events and exhibitions. The original camera can also be viewed at Imago in Berlin without booking a photoshoot. — An interactive art project to be handled and used!

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