On 08 May 1945, Germany surrendered to the Allies — the day which marked the end of the Second World War, the most tragic and bloody conflict in history, with some 75 million recorded deaths. Families were separated, borders shifted and an estimated 60 million refugees were displaced, forced to migrate to countries often thousands of miles away from their homes. Still now it is rare to meet a European who has not been affected by that shift. Damian Heinisch was born in Poland, grew up in Germany, and now lives in Oslo. His new book, 45, is inspired by journeys made over three generations of his family. It begins with his grandfather, who in 1945 was piled into a cattle wagon and deported from Gliwice in southern Poland to a labour camp in Debaltsevo, Ukraine, where he eventually died. Then, in 1978, his father took his family (Heinisch was ten at the time) and boarded a train out of Gliwice to start a new life in West Germany. Reflecting on his family history, in …
Rafael Heygster and Helena Lea Manhartsberger’s collaborative project captures the surreal tensions created by the rapid normalisation of new rules and infrastructures
Nick Ballón’s four-minute film blends fact and fiction as he follows a group of alphorn players through a mountain range in Germany
Light and Shadow is the first comprehensive retrospective of the work of Dr. Paul Wolff and Alfred Tritschler. Tracing their photographs from 1920 to 1950, the book explores Wolff and Tritschler’s roles as pioneers of the Leica, as forerunners of illustrative photography, and as creators of an extensive archive of work that documents several chapters of German history. Wolff and Tritschler are known for photographing the years of the Weimar Republic – Germany’s government from 1919 to 1933 – through to the rise of Nazi Germany, and in the devastation of the Second World War. Encompassing around 70,000 images, their work has established them as the two most significant photographers of this period in German history. Light and Shadow features 1,000 of their photographs shot during this time, and in the years following the war. Although now considered pioneers of the artform, the pair did not approach photography in a way that was typical of the time. Wolff formally studied medicine and became a physician in Strasbourg, but when his practice was restricted by the …
“I got into photography because I’m a little restless, and I liked that it was fast,” says Brazilian photographer Mona Kuhn, who has just published her sixth book with Steidl, She Disappeared Into Complete Silence. Even so, the speed of photography haunted her, as Kuhn feared that her photographs would be consumed then discarded – like so many of the magazines she read and tossed away. “I wanted to stop time with photography,” she says. “That’s another reason I got into nudes, for the timeless aspect.”
She Disappeared Into Complete Silence is an experimental project shot in Acido Dorado, a reflective house in the middle of the Californian desert designed by American architect Robert Stone. Inside it are mirrored ceilings and walls, which refract sheets of golden desert light that flood the house. Here, Kuhn presents a solitary nude on the edge of the desert, removed from any symbols of time, creating “an abstraction of being,” and “a space where our mind resides”.
When Felicia Honkasalo’s grandfather passed away in 2009, he left behind boxes full of rocks and minerals, and stacks of notes, sketches, and fading photographs. “No one else in the family wanted them,” says Honkasalo, who never got the opportunity to meet her grandfather, “I was really intrigued by it all, but I didn’t really know what to do with it at first”.
Honkasalo’s debut book, Grey Cobalt, is an attempt to construct imagined memories of her grandfather, who was a metallurgist during the Cold War in Finland as well as an avid cosmologist. Published by Loose Joints, the book release accompanies an exhibition at the Webber Gallery in London, which will run till 15 February.
Publications we loved, and the big news stories from the last month in photobooks, including American Winter by Gerry Johansson, Void’s Hunger project, and JA Mortram’s Small Town Inertia
In 1989, a record number of 71,000 Soviet Jews were granted exodus from the USSR after a century of radical changes, fuelled by a wave of anti-semitism. Between 1988 and 2010 over 1.6 million Jews left the territory of the former Soviet Union, most of them settling in Israel but others heading for Germany, Canada, Australia, and the United States.
Irina Rozovsky was seven years old when her family fled from Russia to America in 1988. “It’s ironic in retrospect,” she says. “The USSR was a closed up place where Jews were discriminated against; in the end we were the ones that got to leave and seek out a better life. It was like winning the lottery.”
Rozovsky, now 37, lives in Georgia, US, with her husband and two-year-old daughter. “In my work I’m always circling back to the beginning of things, which for me is leaving one place and settling in another, adapting to a new life,” she says. “My photographs are not autobiographical, but I guess that history and the search for the familiar echoes in how I see. Not being able to see the place that you remember, I think that drives my photography.”
“Nothing seemed to me more appropriate than to project an image of our time with absolute fidelity to nature by means of photography… Let me speak the truth in all honesty about our age and the people of our age.” These are the words of August Sander, one of the most poignant figures in the history of photography, best-known for his ambitious, lifelong project, where he sought to create a comprehensive photographic work that faithfully represented the physiognomy of German society.
People of the 20th Century, as it was eventually named, is an attempt at a social portrait of the everyday German man and woman living in the 1900s – a period of time which, unbeknownst to the photographer at its inception, would give way to two world wars, the largest migration of people in human history, and ethical, economic and political hysteria.
“I was trained as a sculptor, and this was the first time I had used the camera,” wrote Jacqueline Hassink in the Financial Times in 2011, of her breakthrough project The Table of Power. Between 1993 and 1995 Hassink contacted forty of the largest multinational corporations in Europe, asking to photograph their boardrooms. “I wanted to find a table that symbolised modern society’s most important value: economic power,” she writes. Nineteen refused, while the remaining 21, in Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Switzerland and Italy, eventually agreed.
The book was published in 1996; it was the first time that photographs of these places had been made public, and in the spring of 2009, after the global recession, Hassink decided to revisit the boardrooms. With The Table of Power 2, she examined how boardroom design, revenue and employee numbers had changed over the intervening years.
Hassink, who has died aged just 52, was born in Enschede, the Netherlands, on 15 July 1966. She trained to be a sculptor at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, and then at the Trondheim Academy of Fine Art in Norway, but after graduating in 1992, presented herself mainly as a photographer, publishing nine books – including another celebrated title, Car Girls, in 2009. It was shot over five years at car shows across seven cities in three different continents, including New York, Paris, Geneva, Tokyo, Detroit, and Shanghai, focusing in on differing cultural standards on ideals of beauty on the women paid to pose with the cars.