Open Shutter

Michael Wesely

Since the early 1990s, the photographer Michael Wesely has been inventing and refining techniques using extremely long exposures to take uniquely compelling photographs. Using filters and an aperture that is very small, yet common with professional camera lenses, he is able to reduce the amount of light that reaches the negative so that the exposure time is increased by a factor of thousands. Some of Wesely’s pictures of the rebuilding of Potsdamer Platz in Berlin were continuously exposed for 26 months. The results of Wesely’s explorations are as surprising as they are beautiful. In 2001, when the Museum of Modern Art began its ambitious construction and renovation project, Wesely’s work was immediately recognized as a unique opportunity to document that project artistically. Nearly three years later, the images were completed, and their pentimento-like strata of transparencies and overlays render the construction projects evolution as a dense and delicate network of forms and colors in space. (From an essay by Sarah Meister, MoMA, New York)