Stephen Bulger Gallery: Claudia Fahrenkemper

The Stephen Bulger Gallery, one of Toronto’s leading photography galleries, is currently exhibiting a survey of work from photographer Claudia Fahrenkemper. The exhibition opened on January 11th and continues to February 8th, 2020. Even though the famed photographer has been shown internationally, and collected by the National Gallery of Canada, this is Claudia’s first solo show in Canada and her second within North America.

 I did not know of Claudia’s work until this past Wednesday when I attended a private talk at the gallery about the artist. So here are some of the key facts I learned about Claudia, just in case you are new to her work as I am.

 Claudia is a german photographer who studied at the Kunstakademie Dusseldorf from 1989 to 1995. Her practice focuses on the isolation of beauty in both human-made and organic items. This has led her to create works highlighting landscapes, machinery, microphotography, and armour throughout her ongoing 30-year practice. 

Claudia’s early work depicts her fascination with mechanics. Everything from enormous machinery, as shown above, to the tiniest of screws used in medical operations. From here, she began to manipulate scientific computers, used initially been for documentation purposes, to take highly detailed photography using medium format film. Each object was plated in gold to achieve high contrast and to stop dust from collecting. She used the altered machinery to photograph a variety of seeds and insects, often referring to their skin/shells as their armour.


This exploration lead to other varieties of armour, from knights to most recently samurais. Most of her photography is in black and white until her samurai series, where she introduced colour to highlight the significance of the sun often depicted on the armour. 

She is currently continuing her exploration of armour through the use of different specimens and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Claudia Fahrenkemper’s work is a true mastery of documentation photography. Her commitment to detail and scientific/historical accuracy is what truly sets her work above the rest. 

The curation invites the audience to enter a trance-like state when viewing her work. Each piece has space to breathe, so even though photographs surround you, it never feels overwhelming. 

 I am surprised that I had never heard of Claudia Fahrenkemper before that night, primarily due to the extensive history of photography courses I took during my BFA. So I highly recommend going to see this exhibition before time runs out. To not only further educate yourself on this artist but to see how artistic curiosity furthers innovations that allow others to see everyday items in a new light.


All the information used to create this blog is found within the exhibition catalogue provided by the Stephen Bulger Gallery. All artwork and archival photographs are not my property; their rights and ownership are connected to their respectful owners in full.


If you check out the exhibition let me know! I would love to hear your take on Claudia’s work or just which piece stands out for you. 

- Sarah Zanchetta

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