Café-Crème asbl – founding members are Pierre Stiwer, Paul Bretz and Paul di Felice, later joined by Robert Theisen – starts as a non-profit association publishing an experimental magazine with the aim to promote young emerging talents from Luxembourg ( designers, photographers, painters, architects ) and open up to a broader international art scene and its major players in the field of contemporary art.
Taking advantage of the then emerging desktop publishing possibilities, the association publishes a coffee-table magazine which develops into a contemporary art magazine with a particular focus on photography after a couple of issues. It was distributed internationally in Museum shops and selected libraries in Europe as well as in the United States for a short period of time. It is the very first desktop published magazine in Luxembourg.
Café-Crème asbl is curator of a series of exhibitions at the town gallery of Dudelange ( Nei Liicht gallery ) introducing new trends in contemporary photography of Germany, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. As a participant of Luxembourg European Capital of Culture event (1995) the association manages a major exhibition called “Landscape : about places and non-places” in collaboration with the Art Center Nei Liicht and the CNA ( Centre national de l’audiovisuel ) in Dudelange. Café-Crème will later continue the Nei Liicht partnership with individual exhibitions such as “Tempi in scena ( 2001) “ and “Tempi osceni ( 2009 ) “ (co curated with Alessandra Capodacqua, Studio Marangoni, Florence).
The town gallery of the city of Dudelange plays a major role in promoting contemporary art in Luxembourg and is a leading institution in the country for contemporary photography.
The association is among the very first to set up a website in Luxembourg (1994) as a partner of the European Capital of Culture event.
The exhibition space Casino Luxembourg – Forum d’Art Contemporain (created in 1995) – hosts in 1997 the first international show on contemporary photography in Luxembourg “The 90s – A Family of Man?” curated by Paul di Felice and Pierre Stiwer. The exhibition is to be a milestone in Luxembourg by drawing attention to the possible connections to be made between the admired Edward Steichen ( a country native ) and his Family of Man exhibition – donated to his native country by the artist – and contemporary views on the same topic.
Rineke Dijkstra, Nan Goldin, John Coplans, Christian Boltanski, Thomas Struth, Beat Streuli are part of this show among many other international artists. The previous year the association published the last issue of its magazine. Main topic is Photography after photography inspired by the text of Hubertus von Amelunxen who foresees the end of photography as we know it. Digital technology and post-modern philosophy radically change our approach to truth and the notion of avant-garde art.
During this period the Banque et Caisse d’Epargne de l’Etat ( BCEE ) is promoting actively photography and starts a collection concentrating on works of Edward Steichen as well as on contemporary photography. The association is invited to design and conceive two books: one on contemporary photographers in Luxembourg and one catalogue for the growing collection. The art space of the bank “Am Tunnel” provides an opportunity to exhibit the collection – works range from Cindy Sherman to Helmut Newton – as well as the more contemporary artist from Luxembourg.
During this period the association publishes three volumes on contemporary photography in Europe: Les Trahisons du modèle, Le Bâti et le Vivant, Apparemment léger.
The Ministry of culture provides for several years ( 2000 – 2006 ) an exhibition space to the association, the Chapelle du Rham. During this period, the association is able to develop large scale exhibitions although we rely on external staff for the handling of the works – aid is provided by neighbouring art institutions who are willing to help.
There is some hope to develop into a full scale exhibition space for contemporary art, but a scheduled renovation of the historical building within the neighbouring protected Rham area stops the process.
It nevertheless proves to be an incentive to initiate a festival called Les Semaines européennes de l’image then supported by the French cultural Institute in Luxembourg and associating Christian Gattinoni who is teaching photography at the ENSP Arles (France).
The Chapelle du Rham is home to three major international exhibitions with a focus on Scandinavian, Italian and French artists mainly and hosts – together with Casino art forum – the first Emop (European Month of Photography network) exhibition, Mutations 1.
The association starts a long term curatorial project within the newly created European Month of Photography (emop) network ( a joint venture of European photography festivals in Berlin, Rome, Vienna, Moscow, later joined by Bratislava, Budapest, Ljubljana and Athens ) on different topics related to recent development in photography. Founding members are the Maison européenne de la photographie in Paris, Kulturprojekte Berlin and Musa ( Museum auf Abruf, City of Vienna. Exhibitions labeled Mutations 1, 2, 3 are showcases in the hybridization of photography and video art as well as the migration to the internet.
Building on former good relationships with local museums and institutions in Luxembourg such as Casino Art Forum, the Mudam ( Musée d’art moderne ) or Carré-Rotondes the works of major artists/photographers (Philippe Ramette, Ori Gersht, David Claerbout, Edmund Clark, Rob Hornstra …) are shown in these art spaces.
Café Crème curates in 2007 “Différences partagées” (in collaboration with Nei Liicht) within the second edition of “Luxembourg and Grande Région European Capital of Culture“ and presents, among others, in situ works by the Luxembourg based artist Marco Godinho.
The Musée national d’Art et d’Histoire and the city of Luxembourg art space ( Cercle ) becomes a major partner with exhibitions focusing on portrait and landscape photography. An exhibition such as “Modèles modèles” (Ideal models) is a milestone in a still lasting relationship on curatorial exchange on photography in relation to the arts in Luxembourg New innovative art spaces such as the Abbaye de Neumunster provide opportunities to develop outdoor exhibition projects.
2011 – 2013:
The Casino Luxembourg continues to host thematic exhibitions such as Great Expectations – Contemporary Photography looks at today’s Bitter Years (2009 ) or Second Lives : Jeux Masqués et autres Je (2011).
During these years, the association curates as well several exhibitions for private enterprises or assists them with the necessary expertise to host exhibitions dedicated to photography or visual arts on their premises (Arendt & Medernach, BGL-Fortis, Banque de Luxembourg).
The Law firm Arendt & Medernach becomes a main partner of the association’s activities and develops a new dynamics around the Emoplux festival by suggesting the idea of a European photography award.
2014 – 2019:
The association is proud of its thirty years of regular activity and publishes an A3 magazine inspired by its first publication and text of international photo experts that have been long time companions.
Emop decides in 2015 to become a legal structure hosted in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
Although the eight member cities of the emop network are experiencing the impact of a changing cultural and political environment in a tougher economic environment the eight institutions in Athens, Berlin, Bratislava, Budapest, Ljubljana, Luxembourg, Paris and Vienna pledge to continue and develop their relationship around common projects. Nevertheless Athens, Budapest, Bratislava and Ljubljana will leave the network to be replaced later by Brussels Foto Festival and Imago Lisboa of Portugal.
The city of Luxembourg becomes a main sponsor of the festival and its city exhibitions spaces such as Cercle Cité, Musée de la ville, Villa Vauban become regular participants of the photo festival Emoplux.
The association also extends its collaboration to neighbouring institutions such as the Arsenal Art center of Metz (Lorraine / France ), Haus Beda in Bitburg ( Germany ) during festival time.
The Cercle Cité premises are now hosting the portfolio review which is a public event during the photo festival. It is meant to provide to local or regional artists the opportunity to meet international experts of photography and curators of major festivals.
Taking advantage of its European connections, the association is providing exhibition opportunities for Luxembourg photographers abroad.
The association presently manages its 8th and 9th European Month of photography with nearly all institutional partners of the country ( MNHA; Mudam, Casino art forum, Neimenster, CNA … ) and close collaboration with the Foto festivals in Berlin, Brussels, Lisbon, Paris and Vienna. Leading topics in 2019, 2021 and 2002 are related to nature and identity in photography.
The festival includes for the 2023 edition the “Europäische Kunstakademie in the neighbouring German Town of Trier