Ein-heit & I Loved my Wife

Tine Guns
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I can’t talk about editing in photography without mentioning Michael Schmidt. He believed that juxtaposing a series of photographs greatly increases their emotional power.

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exhibition view Waffenruhe
“Waffenruhe reiterates a fact that has long seemed blindingly apparent to the more discerning photographer, that photographs must be put together like words, or individual movie frames, in order to sing their full song. It advocates persuasively that the most effective form of presentation for the straight photograph is probably the book. A vessel for the poetically juxtaposed sequence of images, the book becomes the primary artwork, rather then the necessarily less concentrated row of prints on a gallery wall.” Gerry Badger on Michael Schmidt’s Waffenruhe
Michael Schmidt was a german photographer who made amazing artist books. Most famous are his ‘Berlinbooks’ Waffenruhe (Ceasefire, 1987), which documents west Berlin in the years just before the wall came down and Ein-Heit (U-nit-y, 1996), which was made in the immediate wake of German reunification.
https://vimeo.com/14553526
The splitting of the word Ein-Heit combines the euphoric state of the reunification with the widespread skepticism towards it.
The book merges pictures Schmidt’s own photographs of people in the united Berlin with pictures of propaganda pamphlets, newspapers, magazines and Nazi rallies. The sequencing is brilliant with interesting juxtapostions, but all pictures are printed without mentions of their historical meaning. Which makes them open to interpretation.
‘Each viewer is challenged to judge whether a given image represents East or West Germany, a villain or a victim, a moment in 1935, 1965, or 1995.’
The book is a complex, layered portrait of the German Identity, an exploration of history and the individual vs mass media.

 

Michael Schmidt, Ein-heit
I’m already looking forward to the retrospective of the artist’s work at the National Galerie Berlin in 2020.
Recently on facebook I got the question of Dieter De Lathauwer if I owned two copies of U-ni-ty. (which I gave away, so if I once gave you this book and you don’t want it anymore.. people might be interested :-) ) so the link for this article with Belgium was easily made.
I recently saw Dieter’s presentation of his own book at the Fomu Photobookweek. ‘I Loved My Wife-– Killing children is good for the economy’ is a book on the ‘Aktion T4’ a non-voluntary euthanasia program that was carried out in psychiatric institutions in Germany, Austria and occupied Poland. Thousands of ill children were killed because the cost of keeping them alive was ‘too high for society’. The title was borrowed from a Nazi propaganda film in which a man proudly declares that he has sacrificed his wife to the Nation.
The book combines pictures that Dieter de Lathauwer took of the psychiaric institions where Aktion T4 was performed in Austria with propaganda films stills.
The exhibition is on view until 2/4 at Botanique Brussels
http://botanique.be/nl/tentoonstelling/dieter-de-lathauwer-i-loved-my-wife

 

Dieter De Lathauwer, I Loved My Wife

Michel Francois

Tine Guns

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Back to Belgium :-)

Michel Francois is a multimedia artist who works with sculptures, video, installations and photography. It’s his photography where I shall shed a light on today.

Even in his photography Francois is very sculptural. Either in his framing (like the very interesting movement-series ) or in the way he uses them in the exhibition space like the way he presents his posters.

His posters

Since 1994, for each new exhibition, a large-scale poster was created by the artist from one his photographs. Quite often vistors could take this posters with them and leave the exhibition with the work. An interesting statement on the permanence of art

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It’s the artist’s conviction that the meanings of a work of art are determined through its combination with others in relation to an exhibition space

 

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I first discovered his work when I visited his expo ‘ La Plante en Nous’. Since then I treasure the accompagning exhibition catalogue/photobook

In his exhibition “La Plante and nous” he searches for the plant growing in all of us. The exhibition book takes you on a summer trip.  I can smell the warm scent of summer freedom. Even the busy businessman is photographed as a real Gospel Singer. With arms wide open and his eyes upwards (including sunglasses)  Enjoying the sun, diving into a lake, the cat and mouse game around the sprinkler in the garden, burying grandma on the beach, the crafting of a mask, blowing a dandelion flower, a structure of branches, bread crumbs for birds or just a giant cactus … But also the fiery deep human feelings that arise when there’s a silence during a revolt. It is these moments of everyday banality or rather mundane that Michel François captures, masters and sculpts

In our modern world of structures and rational logic he selects these fragments to grow as individuals. All categories in which he is interested (like nature, art, music, flora and fauna, science, …) overlap at that point of everyday greatness. His work consists of photographs, videos, films, sculptures, installations, sound, natural materials such as water, plants, flowers, trees, clay, but also soap or paper (etc …)

 

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Amour & Voyeur

Tine Guns
This month I will select some artists who work with photography. Most of them work in the field between the still and the moving. And what better way to show the link between Cinema and Photography than highlighting the sequencing in photobooks?
So let’s Start this ride with the soundtrack of my first photobook  that started it all.
In the End it’s all about Love
From Amour to Voyeur; first Stop: Hans-Peter Feldmann.
This Dusseldorf based artist’s main activity has been collecting, organising and re-contextualising. His artist book ‘Voyeur’ is an ongoing project that already reached it’s 6th edition.
The book is a compact paperback printed in black and white.With found footage selected from a wide variety of sources: newspapers, movie stills, fashion photos, sports photos, advertising, science etc. By reducing them in size and eliminating their colour, the artist removed them from their orginal context and placed them in a collective inconography.
The only text in the book is on the last page, where Feldmann thanks “all the photographers whose pictures have been used for this work.”
If we, the voyeurs, start to read the book, the editing looks seemingly random at first . Altough the juxtapostions between the images are so well done that I assume they are placed deliberately. Like an emotional rollercoaster. I once gave it as a present to my friend and brilliant essay-filmmaker. He said the book read like a good film.
But the brilliance for me starts when reading another edition of the book. The same photographs are used but the spreads are in a different order. The idea of the image as a constant changing source of interpretation is a pure statement on editing.
Feldman’s editing, which eliminates captions and dates, releases photos from their functions and history, making them think about something from relationships between neighboring photographic images without any pulsation. This nonhierarchical view of Feldmann’s popular photo images supplied in the 20th century makes us realize how we are subjectively and unconsciously interpreting photos. (Charlotte Cotton “Contemporary Photography”)

 

 

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the collector.jpgThe Collector. Tine Guns, coming up, 2017

 

Three weeks ago I rediscovered another book of Hans-Peter Feldmann thanks to my friend Bas. Das Kleine Möwenbuch.
“In the early 70’s I went with my girlfriend and my son on a 4 week vacation. I took 5 rolls of film with me to take some photographs. Back home, after the exposed films were developed, I found that I had taken pictures of almost nothing else but seagulls. There was though one picture of my girlfriend, at least one that showed one leg and one arm of her, and there were also two or three photos of my son. All the other pictures were of seagulls, as you can see in the book, which becomes now a late photo album of a vacation in Scotland.” Hans-Peter Feldmann.

 

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Das kleine Möwenbuch. HansPeter Feldmann, 1975
It’s not the repetition of the seagulls why I love this book. It’s exactly the seemingly trivial pictures of Feldmann’s son that make it. The book wouldn’t have the feeling of a captured moment in space and time (like a vacation) without this pictures. With this pictures we feel the presence of the maker, who wanders off during a mountain walk, filming (photographing) the birds in the sky. But at a certain point the camera shifts, an image from above capturing the son, like the camera flies from the point of view of the birds towards the ground. It flies down and goes from bird eye to low angel and even frog eye. Ready to start of wandering off in the sky again…

 

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“I am not interested in the high points of life. Only five minutes of every day are interesting. I want to show the rest, normal life.” Hans-Peter Feldmann