Benedikt Steinmetz was kind enough to send me his latest book “von Amts wegen” (Officially) dedicated to the municipal offices of his hometown Saarbruecken.
From the social services department up to the building inspection office Steinmetz shows us official facades in high-contrast black and white images. Sometimes bleak, sometimes monotonous, sometimes repellent, but always with a high recognition value, he photographs what is unavoidable to every German: the administrative office.
What sounds initially like a very basic concept is capable to convince completely with consistence and a successful shape.
The marbled soft cover with in 24×29 cm format is modelled like an official brochure and the captions are done in typewriter typography. This generates in conjunction with the images a distinct retro feel.
In this book the parks and gardens department or the youth welfare office has not yet arrived in today’s service economy. They look unchanged bureaucratic, orderly and inaccessible.
The inaccessibility found in Appendix II of the book, “Der Eingangshinweis” (The Entrance Instruction) a special appreciation.
When the windows of the public relations department appear as empty black holes and in the windows of the bunker-like environment agency two lost adhesive butterflies dance, you know what kind of view Benedikt Steinmetz takes at the facades of these offices: mocking and yet loving. – Finally, this special blend is the attraction of the work.
In 2011 I enjoyed no other book so much as Benedict Steinmetz’s “von Amts Wegen”, published by Schaden.com.