Petra Gerwers: Time Travelers

Opening: 23 February 2022, 7 pm // Michael Horbach Foundation, Köln (pre-registration required)

On 23 February 2022, the new exhibition “Time Travelers” by German photographer Petra Gerwers will open at the Michael Horbach Foundation in Cologne.

This project, which Gerwers started seven years ago and shot mainly with a Leica Monochrom camera, revolves around the discussion of hopes and dreams and the reality of one’s life – and how the depicted persons deal with and communicate them.

Each “time traveler” is portrayed in a three-part series – consisting of a photo of themselves as a child, a handwritten letter by the time traveler to their child self, and a current photo of the protagonist, taken by the photographer Petra Gerwers. Together they tell a life story.

These individual narratives provide a stage for each of the 25 protagonists, including:

  • Nick Ut, AP photographer (photographed the “Napalm Girl of Vietnam,”
  • Phan Thi Kim Phuc), Los Angeles
  • Kim Phuc, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Canada
  • Kristian Schuller, fashion photographer, Berlin
  • Klaus Honnef, art historian, art critic, exhibition curator, art photography theorist, Cologne
  • Michael Horbach, art collector and founder of the Horbach Foundation, Cologne
  • Wolfgang Zurborn, photographer, teaches photography at various higher education institutions, Cologne
  • Andrea Lüdke, actress, Hamburg
  • Ivo von Renner, photographer, Hamburg
  • Henry Dallal, photographer, Iran
  • Rolf Scheider, casting director and entertainer, Paris and Berlin
  • Saskia Brieger, stewardess, Erkelenz
  • Thomas Gerwers, publisher, ProfiFoto magazine, Mönchengladbach
  • Peter Franck, photographer, Stuttgart
  • Frank Dürrach, co-founder and teacher, Fotoschule Köln, Cologne
  • Damian Zimmermann, photographer, Cologne
  • Petra Gerwers, photographer, online editor, ProfiFoto magazine, Mönchengladbach


Letter: The time travelers imagine what they would tell their former child self. What insights do they wish to share? The protagonists can decide what they want to convey and what topics to address. Handwritten letters are preferable because every handwriting is unique and gives a further impression of the individual.

Present-day photograph: The time travelers were asked: “What place, person, or past event changed your life in the past or shaped the future course of your life?” The time traveler is portrayed by the photographer behind a window, with an image of this life-changing element reflecting on the surface. The protagonists look out of the window into the distance, into the future – but might also gaze inward, giving viewers a hint of their emotional world. A closer look and more detailed examination of the subtly reflected images allows viewers to discover further facets of the protagonists.

Childhood photograph: This gives an impression of what the time travelers looked like and how they acted when they were young. The time traveler’s letter addresses this child.