Archive for category » Art & Photography «

17 Nov 2010

I’m (Not) Singing a German Song

Posted by PF at 7:00 ...

There is no doubt that the Germans have a problem with their national identity. A main reason for this is certainly the national excess of German fascism under Hitler. In 1982 the German band Nichts sang “Deutsch sein, niemandem sagen. Nur Angst vor Fragen, Scham für mein Land” (Being German, don’t tell anyone. Only fear of questions, shame for my country.). It took the summer’s tale of World Cup 2006 to free at least waving with German flags.

When Conscientious recently featured Marita Bullman’s work “Es gibt immer was zu tun”, Jörg Colberg remarked his amazement how few German photographers explore what being German might mean. When I read this, I wasn’t sure that there are so few positions about this and collected on trial some works which address ‘being German’ in many ways.



Tags »


16 Feb 2010

Boris Sieverts – A Guide to Visiting Cities

Posted by PF at 7:00 ...

The website of Boris Sieverts’ “Büro für Städtereisen” (Office for City Travels) is pretty outdated. But his text “A Guide to Visiting Cities” is still impressive, and can be read as a manual as well as a manifesto.

1. Get topographic maps with a scale of 1:25,000 of your city. (Available at the local planning department)

2. (…)

Boris Sieverts, born in 1969, studied art in Duesseldorf. He worked several years as a shepherd and in architectural offices in Cologne and Bonn. With his “Büro für Städtereisen” (Office for City Travels) he led locals and tourists to the gray areas of our cities.

Tags »

Comments off

27 Jan 2009

After The Show: Portraits of Exhaustion

Posted by PF at 7:00 ...

Portraits of Exhaustion

In portrait photography there is a tradition to take portraits in exceptional conditions to achieve a special image. For example Philippe Halsman, who asked celebrities to jump for a portrait in order to avoid traditional poses. Or Marjaana Kella, working on the presentability of the unconscious, by putting her subjects into a hypnotic trance.

Likewise it is very popular to take a portrait of humans directly after great stress to disclose new unknown faces in front of the camera.

Portraits of Exhaustion

A probably well-known example of this kind of portrait photography is Rineke Dijkstras “Matador-Series”: The series shows Portuguese bull fighters directly after the fight – with blood and dirt smeared faces. Lotte Reimanns series “Faustkampf” (fistfight) follows a similar procedure: Young female boxers, exhausted and sweating, are photographed instantly after a fight. Both series deal in different manners with gender roles.

The photographer Sandy Nicholson examines in his series “2nd: The Face of Defeat” in which state an extreme situation leaves us behind. The work shows portraits of runners-up in various competitions after the match. Matthias Willi is interested in a similar aspect. His series “The moment after The Show” shoots rock stars right after the concert.

Based on the assumption that photography can only display surfaces, all these works perform amazingly well. Maybe the visible codes and subcodes of facial expression and gesturing obtain cracks and distortions under exceptional conditions which can lead to something special, if the photographer succeeds to use them in a creative style.

Tags »


26 May 2008

Street Photography Today / Straßenfotografie Heute

Posted by PF at 6:56 ...

Foto: SF

This week The Sonic Blog is dedicated to Street Photography, one of the classic subjects in photography. Street Photography shows generally images that originate from street or other public areas. But the modern term of the Street Photography goes often beyond that.

Henri Cartier-Bresson, founder member of the photo agency Magnum, coined the term “decisive moment” and Robert Frank showed in his book “The Americans” an America that wasn’t seen before. The photographers Garry Winogrand, William Klein and Lee Friedlander followed these traces.

Photographers like Joel Meyerowitz brought color into the Street Photography. Artists such as Philip-Lorca diCorcia and Beat Streuli extended the term of the Street Photography with a conceptual approach.
This frank view on Street Photography has been continued by artists like Bill Sullivan, Mikiko Hara, Edmund Leveckis and Brian Ulrich.

Today the classic Street Photography and its modern descendants have a more or less peaceful coexistence. A current problem of Street Photography, which affects both directions, is the shrinking public space after 9/11 and a more and more difficult legal situation (an older article about legal issues of Street Photography can be found here). Despite these difficulties I am relatively sure that Street Photography always finds a place in art and contemporary history.

Foto: SF

The Sonic Blog widmet sich in dieser Woche dem Thema Straßenfotografie, einem der klassischen Sujets in der Fotografie. Straßenfotografie bezeichnet eine Fotografie, die auf der Straße oder allgemein im öffentlichen Raum entsteht. Aber der moderne Begriff der Straßenfotografie geht oft darüber hinaus.

Henri Cartier-Bresson, Mitbegründer der Fotoagentur Magnum, prägte den Begriff des “entscheidenden Augenblicks” und Robert Frank zeigte in seinem Buch “The Americans” ein Amerika, wie man es zuvor noch nicht gesehen hatte. Die Fotografen Garry Winogrand, William Klein und Lee Friedlander folgten den Spuren dieser Vorbilder.

Fotografen wie Joel Meyerowitz brachten Farbe in die Straßenfotografie. Künstler wie Philip-Lorca diCorcia und Beat Streuli erweiterten den Begriff der Straßenfotografie mit einem konzeptionellen Ansatz.
Künstler die diesem offeneren Begriff der Straßenfotografie folgen sind zum Beispiel Bill Sullivan, Mikiko Hara, Edmund Leveckis und Brian Ulrich.

Heute existieren die klassische Straßenfotografie und ihre modernen Nachfahren mehr oder weniger friedlich nebeneinander. Ein aktuelles Problem, das beide Lager teilen, ist der nach 9/11 immer kleiner werdende öffentliche Raum und die schwierigere Rechtslage der Straßenfotografie (einen älteren Artikel von mir zur Rechtslage in der Straßenfotografie gibt es hier).

Trotz dieser Schwierigkeiten bin ich relativ sicher, dass die Straßenfotografie als wichtiger Ausdruck in Kunst- und Zeitgeschichte immer ihren Platz findet und fortbestehen wird.

Foto: SF

Tags »


13 May 2008

Deadpan German Spaces

Posted by PF at 7:16 ...

Foto: Egbert Haneke

© Egbert Haneke

Lately the unique Mrs. Deane brought up that Egbert Haneke and Ralf Grossek could be soulmates and related them to the “deadpan” German photography.

Reading this, the work of some other artists crossed my mind. Thinking of Sasse, Zurborn and Czycholl and their examination of German spaces.

Egbert Haneke’s series “Vis Motrix” shows trivial things of well known surrounding areas in biting cutouts.

Egbert Haneke, born 1966 in Essen, studied Art at the Academy of fine Arts in Hamburg. Currently he has a lectureship in photography at the Academy of fine Arts Hamburg.

Ralf Grossek’s work “Collection Functional Intentions” deals with functional controlling of urban space.

Ralf Grossek, born1968 in Kamp-Lintfort, studied photography at the University. He lives and works in Duisburg.

Wolfgang Zurborn’s series “Drift” captures the fractured modern world in its overlapping images and contexts.

Wolfgang Zurborn, born 1956, studied photography and film design at the Fachhochschule Dortmund. He is copartner of the gallery Lichtblick in Cologne. Wolfgang Zurborn lives and works in Cologne.

Foto: Ralf Grossek

© Ralf Grossek

Jörg Sasse could be the grandmaster of ‘German space’, as can be seen easyle in his series “Öffentliche Gebäude” (public buildings).

Jörg Sasse, born 1962 in Bad Salzuflen, studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf at Bernd Becher’s class. He lives and works in Düsseldorf.

The work of Max Czycholl from Hamburg deals with public space as well.

Max Czycholl studied visual communication with the main focus photography at the HfK Hamburg.

Foto: Max Czycholl

© Max Czycholl

Kürzlich erwähnte die unvergleichliche Mrs. Deane, dass Egbert Haneke und Ralf Grossek seelenverwandt sein könnten. und brachte deren Arbeit mit der typisch deutschen “ausdruckslosen” Fotografie in Verbindung.

Beim Lesen des Artikels kamen mir Künstler wie Sasse, Zurborn oder Czycholl und ihr Umgang mit dem deutschen Raum in den Sinn.

Die fotografischen Arbeiten der Serie “Vis Motrix” von Egbert Haneke zeigen Triviales der uns umgebenden Welt in scharf begrenzten Ausschnitten.

Egbert Haneke, geboren 1966 in Essen, studierte Kunst an der Hochschule für Kunst Hamburg. Zurzeit hat er einen Lehrauftrag an der Hochschule für Kunst Hamburg.

Die Arbeit “Sammlung Funktionale Absichten” von Ralf Grossek beschäftig sich mit funktionaler Kontrolle des Raumes im städtischen Lebensraum.

Ralf Grossek, geboren1968 in Kamp-Lintfort, studierte Fotografie an der Universität Duisburg-Essen. Er lebt und arbeitet in Duisburg.

Wolfgang Zurborns Serie Drift konstruiert komplexe Bilder aus den Assoziationen des alltäglichen Raumes.

Wolfgang Zurborn, geboren 1956, studierte an der Fachhochschule Dortmund für Fotografie- und Filmdesign. Er ist Mitbetreiber der Kölner Galerie Lichtblick. Wolfgang Zurborn lebt und arbeitet in Köln.

Foto: Wolfgang Zurborn

© Wolfgang Zurborn

Jörg Sasse könnte der Großmeister des ‘deutschen Raumes’ sein, wie seine Serie “Öffentliche Gebäude” zeigt.

Jörg Sasse, geboren 1962 in Bad Salzuflen, studierte an der Kunstakademie Düsseldorf bei Bernd Becher. Er lebt und arbeitet in Düsseldorf.

Ebenfalls mit dem öffentlichen Raum beschäftigt sich Max Czycholl aus Hamburg.

Max Czycholl studierte Visuelle Kommunikation mit Schwerpunkt Fotografie an der Hochschule für bildende Künste in Hamburg.

Foto: Jörg Sasse

© Jörg Sasse

Tags »

Comments off

26 Apr 2008

Gregor Schneider, Walter Schels, die Kunst und der Tod

Posted by PF at 12:45 ...

Last year the artist Gregor Schneider showed his room installations “Weisse Folter” in the K21 Duesseldorf. Now he hits the headlines with his announcement to show dying humans or an evenly died in the context of art.
Here for example an article in the Telegraph online.

Artists in the headlines, breaking taboos with themes of sex and death, are a recurring ritual. Finally Eros and Thanatos are main topics in the art.

That the displayed death and dying, or even its bare announcement, is worth a message in our sated times earns a second view.

Although everyone believes to have seen already everything, death does not take place in our society. In this highly sophisticated society, in which the requirement on full function and constant availability are applied on machines as to humans, is no more space for death, for the complete negation of function.

We should be grateful for each artist who fights this trend.

In contrast there are no headlines for the rather calm and thoughtful work of Walter Schels “Life before Death”. The large black-and-white photos show humans shortly before and immediately after death.

Foto: Walter Schels

© Walter Schels

Letztes Jahr stellte der Künstler Gregor Schneider seine Rauminstallationen “Weisse Folter” im Düsseldorfer k21 vor. Jetzt macht er Schlagzeilen mit seiner Ankündigung einen sterbenden Menschen oder auch einen eben gestorbenen auszustellen, ihn zum Kunstwerk zu machen.
Hier zum Beispiel ein Artikel dazu in der NZZ Online.

Das Künstler periodisch wiederkehrend mit Tabubrüchen oder scheinbaren Tabubrüchen in Sachen Sex oder Tod Schlagzeilen machen ist ein wiederkehrendes Ritual. Schließlich sind Eros und Thanatos zentrale Themen in der Kunst.

Dass der ausgestellte Tod, das gezeigte Sterben, oder sogar dessen bloße Ankündigung eine Nachricht wert ist in unserer übersättigten Zeit, verdient einen zweiten Blick.

Obwohl man heute vermeint, alles schon einmal gesehen zu haben findet der Tod in unserer Gesellschaft nicht statt. In dieser hochtechnisierten Gesellschaft, in der der Anspruch auf volle Funktion und ständige Verfügbarkeit auf Maschinen wie auf Menschen angewendet wird, ist für den Tod, die vollständige Negation jeder Funktion, kein Platz mehr.

Jedem Künstler, der versucht dieser Entwicklung entgegenzuwirken, sollten wir dankbar sein.

Keine Schlagzeilen machen dagegen die eher ruhigen und nachdenklichen Arbeiten von Walter Schels “Noch mal Leben”. Die großformatigen Schwarz-Weiß-Fotografien zeigen Menschen kurz vor und unmittelbar nach dem Tod.

Tags »


13 Jul 2007

Early Influences

Posted by PF at 7:30 ...

When I mentioned recently the photographers Robert Lebeck and Dirk Reinartz, both worked for the German Stern magazine, I started to think about my photographic roots.

When I was a child I was used to leaf through old issues of the Stern magazine. After the adults had read the magazines, I was allowed to play around with them. I didn’t care for the articles, but I cared for the photos. I did not knew the photographers, I even did not knew a thing about photography, – but the images were magic to me and the photographers were nameless, god-like wizards.

Very much later, when I already switched from Marvel comics to real books, I discovered, one after another, three photo books in the public library of my hometown: Weegees “New York”, Anders Petersens “Cafe Lehmitz” and Jürgen Baldigas “Bambule”. All three books touched me in my heart and taught me that photography can be emotional and poetical far beyond my imagination.

Thank you all.

Tags »


28 Jun 2007

Small Insights / Kleine Einsichten

Posted by PF at 6:50 ...

Yesterday I pondered about a portrait including some landscape I did last weekend. Although the image wasn’t that bad, something fundamental was missing. But I had no idea what it was.

After a while I started to flip through one of my favourite photo books, Joel Sternfeld’s “Stranger Passing”. After two-thirds of the book I realized that Sternfeld uses very often things to associate his models to their environment. It can be a bag, a newspaper, or just a wall to lean against.

And exactly this was missing in my picture. There was no real connection between the environment and the model. I missed to create a comprehensible relation.

I guess a deeper understanding of things like this is an important part of the pie.

Some pictures of Joel Sternfeld can be seen here. An article about “Stranger Passing” is available here.

Tags »

Comments off

08 Jun 2007

Ein Kamel im Dunkeln / A Camel in the Dark

Posted by PF at 9:40 ...

Human perception is a strange thing. Often after I discovered a photographer who works on a special topic I find other artists working on a similar theme.

For example when I featured the work of Gregor Graf, who purged out signs from city views, the blog Conscientious mentioned that Matt Sieber and Robin Collyer work on similar topics.

Shortly after I discovered the work of Ursula Schulz-Dornburg, who photographed ’soviet style’ bus stops, in the exhibition “What does the jellyfish want?”, I read an article at Mrs. Deane, that noted Christoper Herwig and Floriane De Lassée working on the same theme.

To give a last example, Alec Soth wrote in his recent article about ‘Tactile Photography‘ that he saw a new work of Stephen Gill and later the work of Tim Davis and Matt Ducklo, all working in some way about limitations of photography.

Somehow this makes me feel that photography is a bit like a camel in the dark. Photographers often touch the same part of the camel, often without knowing each other.
And our perception is often selective and limited.

Tags »

Comments off