Harald Hauswald, an East German photographer, published in West Germany a book of his work in 1987. The East German secret police, the Stasi, put Hauswald under surveillance and even went so far as to produce a detailed critique of his book, as a photo critic might. Joerg Colberg recently met with the photographer and obtained a copy of the Stasi report on Hauswald’s work. From the report’s introduction:
Especially the selection of the images gives away that we are dealing with a book that has a long-term purpose. People gathered everything somber, oppressive, from poor neighbourhoods, or primitive they could find. It seems apparent that color was intentionally omitted, because only black and white reproduction stresses the supposedly gray, bleak and dismal reality of East Berlin.
It’s interesting to hear the charge of propaganda coming from the secret police of a Communist dictatorship.
Richard Renaldi’s photos of touching strangers seem a little predictable to me — white guy with black family, blue-collar guy with white-collar guy, blig black guy with white family — but still worth a look. Joerg Colberg thinks they’re amazing:
Asking two complete strangers to not only pose with each other, but to also touch each other while doing that… And this in a culture whose discomfort with touching someone you don’t know, or touching something that someone else might have touched still baffles me, even after having spent almost ten years in it! I remember I asked Richard how he actually did that. How do you ask complete strangers to pose with and touch each other? How do you do that in New York City of all places?
The act of making a photograph turns the subjects into actors, and two actors touching each other isn’t that unusual. When I look at many of these photos, I see actors and that detracts from the intimacy. Even so, I love this one.
Opening Friday, June 22 at jen bekman gallery in NYC: A New American Portrait, “a group exhibition of photographs featuring artists at the vanguard of contemporary portraiture in America”. Curated by Jen Bekman and Joerg Colberg, one of my favorite bloggers on the topic of photography.