Places of Longing

Nomi Baumgartl | Marcus Schwier | Steffen Ulbrich

May 14 – June 13 2020

A photo exhibition in response to cancelled vacation plans.


After the shock of the first Corona shutdown, we slowly became aware that everything would be different this year. Even the summer vacation would be different – not traveling the big wide world, but rediscovering home.

I asked some of my artists to select motifs from their archives they associate with the term “places of longing.”

Renowned photographer Nomi Baumgartl brought us moments of happiness in Hawaii. With Steffen Ulbrich the North Sea islands at sunrise are it. Marcus Schwier showed picnic idylls along the Rhine in Düsseldorf and in the parks of Paris.


“Where the happiness of our dreams is tangible.”

Achill Moser

Introduction with Ulrich Rüter

At this time, everyone can probably quite effortlessly list the places they particularly miss. Among the experiences that each individual is gaining these days from the Covid-19-related restrictions are the freedom to travel, which can now no longer be taken for granted, and the unavailability of many cherished vacation spots.

At least we can be visually transported to other, new experiences and landscapes. And fortunately, there is also again a place that presents us with the theme of “places of longing” from different perspectives. The current exhibition of the Visulex Gallery, which was put on the program at very short notice, is currently exhibiting the three artists Nomi Baumgartl, Marcus Schwier and Steffen Ulbrich. The starting point for the exhibition was gallery owner Vivian Laux-Eggert’s request to three of her artists to each select motifs that they associate with the title “Places of Longing.” An exciting, associative group exhibition has developed from this, as three very different approaches to the theme are shown.

Munich-based photographer Nomi Baumgartl presents her moments of happiness from the islands of the Bahamas and Hawaii. Her intense black-and-white photographs thrive on the interplay of water, waves, and intimate portraiture.

For Varel-based photographer Steffen Ulbrich, it is deserted beaches that he captured on the North Sea islands in his typical visual language: precisely composed beach images with multilayered colors in a serene atmosphere.

The Düsseldorf artist Marcus Schwier is represented with a selection from two series at once. The group pictures of relaxed people picnicking on green lawns, taken vertically downwards, are highly unusual in their pictorial composition. In addition, the motifs from the “Case Studies” series, taken a few years earlier, show all the more what we currently lack in spontaneity and sociability.

Seeing and especially being seen is Schwier’s theme in the series “CTRL-Ctrl”: the carefree visit to tourist hotspots appears suspicious due to the same point of view as surveillance cameras. This perspective perhaps already makes the viewer think further about what our vacation trips will probably look like in the future and what controls we will have to continue to come to terms with.

The exhibition “Sehnsuchtsorte” brings together different points of view: on the one hand, the carefree moments and pictorial impressions that we wish for on vacation, but on the other hand also the thoughtfulness about the fragility of these freedoms that seem so natural to us so far. Above all, however, the gallery presentation invites us to develop our own associations and, in doing so, to compare the image series of the three artists with our own places of longing.

Ulrich Rüter, Hamburg (photo historian, curator and author)


Selected Works