At the end there is death. Photography is the fight against death, to fight against oblivion.
My beloved master photographer and teacher Stefan Moses, from whom I learnt so much, had the impression that photography comes directly from the devil.
It seems to me that this is true. The lives of a lot of photographers in the last century turned somewhat bitter and tragic. John Dekin, the drowning drinker, Annie Leibovitz, Robert Mapplethorpe, Robert Frank, Hugo Erfurth, to name but a few who became tragic figures.
Of course, I am talking about the photographers whose subjects were people. These are the ones who are venturing into the hell of human desire, longing and desperation. The really talented ones then return with their treasure and give us a glimpse of who we are.
In the last 30 years a fashion has emerged: to be cool, to be distant.
Calvin Klein was advertising with the claim: Be good, be bad, just be.
The artists and the photographers operated from a position of cool safety. No risk, no touch, no interaction. Why should we risk anything? We only get excluded. We gravitate towards this kind of untouchable position, every image insured by theory and art history.
The effect of this meant that art, including fine art photography, became a consumable good.
Empty, easy to digest, no danger, and no risk for the audience. In the art fairs around the world we have seen an increasing amount of interior design rather than art. Easy to swallow, fun art.
Kafka had the view that art should be the axe in the frozen sea.
“A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.”
– Franz Kafka –
In this era it seems that beauty gets lost and forgotten. I am not talking about the flat prettiness of the fashion magazines. This is no beauty. All these images in the magazines have only one goal: to sell a product. But beauty, how I understand it, is deeper, is more delicate and is innocent.
Of course, beauty gets banished in the posh and erratic tanker ships of capitalism. Everything should have a price, everything should have a function. The images for the capitalistic corporations have no potential to teach us about humanity. These capitalistic images have no force to lure the viewer into the cosmos of beauty.
What is beauty?
This is the secret. We don’t know. Schiller attempted to find a definition. In “Kallias Briefe” he takes us on a journey to explore and clarify the nature of beauty. By the end of the book even he has to admit that it seems to be impossible.
Beauty you can experience, but can’t define.
Maybe this is the elephant in the middle of our culture: it is only possible to experience beauty from a higher dimension.
Fyodor Dostoweski gave to us one of the world’s biggest ideas:
“Beauty will save the world.” – Fyodor Dostoweski –
And more from Fyodor Dostoweski:
“Man can live without science, he can live without bread, but without beauty he could no longer live, because there would no longer be anything to do to the world. The whole secret is here, the whole of history is here” (quoting from the novel, Demons).
In the neo liberal times, we have seen the attempt to customize beauty for the capitalistic process. They tried to make beauty flat and consumable. They did not foresee that in doing so they rob us of the holiness of beauty. They are only able to create a consumable prettiness. Flat, dull, transient.
Because of all these thoughts I felt the duty to make these documentaries to give people the possibility to access the work of photographers who are working on beauty, and who understand the holiness of life. These photographers of people are kneeling before the mystery of life. They bring the essence of life through their photographs to us.