The Ravensburg Project
In the year 2000 the town of Ravensburg starts a multiyear photographic field study, a successive social and esthetical self-exploration. In a yearly rota for an initial 5 year selected photographers are invited to confront the urban area. With the backdrop of omnipresent media, globalization, acceleration of life these photographers will artistically position themselves documenting the social and cultural living space of a town at the beginning of the 21st century.
- Joachim Brohm – Drive (2005)
How can one adequately approach a town in an age of global mobility, world-wide information technology networking, and visual entropy? How can one acquire one”s own, a coherent image of a town? Virtual or real? Through comprehensive preliminary information or spontaneous encounter? By car, by train, from the air, or on foot? Alone or in company? Aimlessly strolling or with a firm concept?
In 2000, the City of Ravensburg initiated a grant for contemporary photography. A project which in a kind of field research set out on a quest for genuine images of a small German town at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Begun at the heavily symbolic turn of the millennium, over the course of five years representatives of artistic-documentary photography were invited to examine the social and cultural urban habitat.
As the fifth recipient of the grant, Joachim Brohm has now taken up a position, or rather has left his fixed position in order to circle around the town in a vehicle that determines modern life unlike any other. Using different automobiles, both open and closed, which were supplied by local dealers, either as a chauffeur or a passenger he drove along the streets in and around Ravensburg. Camera in hand and countless automotive scenes in mind, he sought to encounter the town from the periphery of the bypass.
- Peter Hendricks – the Ravensburg Project (2004)
“For me, regardless of its form or content, each photograph, each section of a photograph successfully strives to be taken seriously. the photograph does not submit either to a craft or a school, and for me this is one of its most admirable qualities.”
Can photography still be trusted? Can a Medium whose technical mastery and manipulative possibilities are so highly developed really be honest? has the visual potency of the camera not become independent? and has it not turned both the subject as well as the object of photography into mere accomplices in the performance of an autonomous image manufacturing process? But then what do the documentary character in the object’s relationship and the artistic character in the author’s relationship to contemporary photography consist of? Peter Hendrick’s Ravensburg Project pursues these kinds of questions regarding insight and interest in the medium of photography. it is part of a five-year project supported by the City of Ravensburg that has, so to speak, gone out into the field in search of genuine images of a small german town at the on-set of the twenty-first century.
- Eva Bertram – non-local (2003)
The third recipient, the photographic and video artist Eva Bertram (Berlin), has now taken up her position in Ravensburg. She photographs objects and people in their everyday surroundings. Her subject is displacement, the slightly out of place in the customary. Equipped with a simple 35-mm camera with a standard lens, her approach is similar to that of stroller towards the end of the 19th century. Her precise eye peels the moments of existence out of the flow of the every-day and shapes them into poetic stories about life, love, failure, and the impossibility of perfection.
In her photographic work for Ravensburg with the title “non-local” she has tracked down numerous images and situations that are occasionally bizarre, from time to time curious, and sometimes also queer. However, they always cast light on how people manage in this world of theirs. It is not only the individual photograph that is important for her picture story, but also its cinematic sequence and the intermediate space, which is filled by the inner eye of the viewer. Dreariness pervades some of Eva Bertram’s photos – the dreariness of being at the mercy of oneself. However, many of the images and the stories that develop out of them contain a gentle smile, a slight humor in the spirit of Marcel Duchamp: “when the serious is tinted with humor. It makes a nicer color.”
In this catalogue, Eva Bertram’s photo sequences are accompanied by texts by Arnold Stadler and Christoph Schaden.
- Matthias Hoch – limited overview (2002)
“I am searching for clarity in a world that is becoming bigger, faster, and more incomprehensible. Concrete forms pitted against an increasing blur. Points of reference imbued with power that become fixed in the subconscious. Photographs taken with a narrow focus, cut out of space and time and translated into form and color on a two-dimensional surface. Objects taking on an independent existence, becoming pure sculptures. With the aim of capturing the roving eye, distracted by a bombardment of images. With a tool that enables precision, concentration and intensity. With the medium of photography.”
Zoltan Jokay, the first recipient of the Ravensburg grant, focused exclusively on people. The intensity of his personal encounters is now followed by the cool, sober eye of the photographic artist Matthias Hoch, who lives and works in Leipzig. As was the case for Jokays portraits, one will also fail to find characteristic depictions of Ravensburg in Hoch`s work. His view is a subjective one that concentrates on the topic of space and urbanity. If one compares the series of photographs that originated in Ravensburg with his photographs of the metropolises of Brussels, Paris or Frankfurt, it is only possible to differentiate and situate the individual places by referring to the legends. And even the title of the Ravensburg exhibition, “Limited Overview”, clearly indicates that Hoch does not depict reality, but rather that he creates it.
Claudio Hils, Thomas Knubben
- Zoltán Jókay – he, she, it (2001)
In “Alice in the Cities “, a film by Wim Wenders, the woman says to the man: I cannot tell you how one should live either. This sentence has accompanied me over the last few years.
With Zoltan Jokay, the city of Ravensburg has started continous photographic fieldwork, a gradual social and aesthetic reflective survey. Over a period of first of all five years, various photographers will be invited on an annual basis to expose themselves to this urban area. During one summer Zoltan Jokay has concentrated on this city and thus has circled and examined Ravensburg in detail. His photographic interest lies on portraits and with more than two dozens of portraits he has created a new and extraordinary image of the city. The images show unusual closeness and partly irritating directness, but at the same time also great human sympathy. And here maybe lies his odd magic. By guiding his view on the view of others, Zoltan Jokay also puts the observer’s view there and reveals an insight to the systematically written down reflection.
Thomas Knubben and Claudio Hils
- Joachim Brohm – fahren, Städtische Galerie Ravensburg, DE
- Peter Hendricks – Das Ravensburgprojekt, Städtische Galerie Ravensburg, DE
- Eva Bertram – non-local, Städtische Galerie Ravensburg, DE
- Matthias Hoch – Begrenzte Übersicht, Städtische Galerie Ravensburg, DE
- Zoltán Jókay – der, die, das, Städtische Galerie Ravensburg, DE