The Opposite of a Muse: The Selfothermades of Isabelle Mège

This is probably the strangest and most fascinating story on photography that I have read in a long time: Isabelle Mège, a medical secretary from Paris wrote letters to photographers she liked and asked them to take her picture. For more than twenty years she managed to get photographers as diverse as Joel Peter Witkin or Ralph Gibson to take her photo.

You should definitely read the whole article in the New Yorker, it is full of strange twists and shows the many layers of this fascinating story…

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This Is Europe

Let’s not forget what Europe is actually about: A shared horizon, a common frame of reference, a troubled past, and the chance to not kill each other for a change. Let’s remember that there has been Europe even before the economists have claimed this fragile project for themselves and started ruining it…

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Dead Heroes II

You Are Doing It Wrong, Bochum, August 2014

You Are Doing It Wrong, Bochum, August 2014

I have no idea, if Hilla Becher ever took any other pictures than those of industrial structures. Maybe there are some pictures of her kids, images of last christmas, a selfie with her husband who had already passed away in 2007.

Hilla Becher and her husband Bernd Becher have been the epitome of consistency in visual output for over 40 years. What do we make of this gigantic oeuvre?! I often struggle in my images with consistency, I get bored easily, I try different cameras and different approaches. I am light-years away from what the Becher’s did. And although I am not sure that I actually aspire their rigid approach, I absolutely admire what they have done. They single-handledly introduced a conceptual way of thinking about photography, something that has not been there before.

And they did it with a vengeance, a monk-like furor of meditation, that send them all over the world in search of the always-same. They put Europe in general and Germany in particular on the map of current photography and their legacy lives on: There is practically no one, who is currently working in Germany who has not been touched by the Düsseldorf School of photography: Either by following them or by struggling to find another way.

Hilla Becher died this month in her home in Düsseldorf.

 

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Don McCullin: The Vanishing Pictures Of War

The past 60 years after WWII on this little island Germany we have seen an unprecedented time of peace and growing wealth: The West seems to have won even the cold war and history seemed to amount to a spiral into an utopia of peace and abundance – from practically every other point in the world, the second half of the century has been a time of terror, despotism and decline and the war has never stopped. Don McCullin has photographed many of the battles of the 20th century and he has seen the unspeakable horrors that wars inflict.

There is a pivotal situation not only in McCullins life, but in the history of media, which explains how photography has changed since the early eighties: On the 13th February of 1981, Rupert Murdoch acquired the Times and the Sunday Times, where McCullin has been working at that time and had published most of his photo-stories about the war for almost 18 years, very shortly after, he left the Times. When he wanted to cover the Falkland wars, he was declined to board the ship taking off to Falkland by the British Government.  If you open up a magazine today, you won’t find images of the wars that are currently ravaging the planet: There are almost no documentations on the atrocities of the war in Iraq, rarely any pictures of Somalia, you could get the idea that no one ever died in the Ukraine – and Rupert Murdoch obviously argumented correctly, when he said that no one wants to see these kind of pictures: Not the people financing newspapers and TV with their ad-money, not the people who watch TV. This has obviously changed from the 70ies, when pictures of war were so common as war itself was: Now, the grip of nations in war who want to control the images are tight: Together with a media in turmoil of greed and cost-cutting and technological change this has formed an absurd climate. War itself is still common, images of war are not. When in 2014, Christoph Bangert had released his book “War Porn”, pages were sealed to prevent viewers from accidentally glimpsing the horror. If we go to war – and currently, all western countries do – we owe it to ourselves and the people we are killing, to do it with our eyes wide open.

The documentary is currently showing on Netflix, it is hard to sit through it without breaking down in tears, but we need to keep our eyes wide open and honor the people that remind us of the horrors, that nobody wants to see anymore.

 

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