Temporal View in Amsterdam (After BB Turner)

Turner– Stilte in de Stad (Turner- Silence in the City), Stadsarchief Amsterdam, Aug 4th-Nov 1st, 2020.

The heart of Amsterdam and it is dead quiet. Or does it seem like that? Benjamin Brecknell Turner’s 1857 photograph of the Westermarkt puts us on the wrong track. The image was taken with the very first photographic technique and the long recording time has erased every movement. For example, the city seems extinct as during a lockdown. This photo and other rare historical cityscapes of Turner’s contemporaries can be seen in the exhibition Turner, Silence in the City, in the Treasury from 4 August to 1 November 2020.

Fragile masterpieces like this rarely leave our safe depot. This presentation was made with the support of the Rembrandt Association and the Turing Foundation and shows the surprising richness of the collection of the City Archives. It is a unique opportunity to see the mysterious beauty and chiaroscuro of Turner’s masterpiece. His photographic tour is linked to the 21st century in the exhibition by a video work by British artist Chris Meigh-Andrews from 2003.

Video work
The English video artist Chris Meigh-Andrews (1952) based his work on Turner’s “Amstel at the Halvemaansbrug”, a paper negative in the collection of the City Archives. Temporal View in Amsterdam (After BB Turner) is made up of video sequences from the same place, made on a single day in 2003 between 3:30 am and 8:00 pm. Everyday events captured in image and sound, we see the light change and we hear the street sounds. It makes us very aware of the century and a half that have passed since Turner made his calotype.

Link to Stadsarchief webpage