Sometimes I feel that photographers should forget about reality.
If we made it to the safe shores of the successful form, more often than not the outcome of our efforts is nothing but a beautiful photograph. I have no problems with beauty in art, but if beauty is all we can achieve, why bother with reality?
Still, at times, photography can leave the realms of mere beauty and affirmative action.
In his book “When attitude turns into form” (Wenn Gesinnung Form wird) Arne Schmitt manages to transfer the look and feel of everyday urban reality into photographs. No icing on the cake here. Turning the pages of this book is like taking a virtual walk through a number of German cities. We encounter an everyday brutality that nobody seems to notice, nobody seems to be bothered by, nobody seems to name.
“Instead of a foreword” as the first chapter of Arne Schmitt´s book is called, takes us along an urban freeway located in Hamburg. Nothing special to see here: a big road, cars, buildings, and a few passers by. Buildings in the background move closer and are left behind, as we walk along. The tone is set; we now might recognize a melody.
In a way, Arne Schmitt’s project is all about movement: we are moving through a virtual reality referring to and reflecting on reality. We are moving through the past and the present, our only roadmap are the names of the chapters Arne Schmitt structured his book with. I am just naming a few:
Old Center/The framework was first to catch on fire/ Prosperity for everybody/A charge against anonymous/The last remains of the authentic/ Distant neighborhood/ Rejected/ The sell-off continues/ The lecture series/ Displacement and resurgence/ …
Progress in photography is hard to come by; sometimes it is nothing but a little movement ahead, or one step aside. A step ahead, but not for everyone: Arne Schmitts concept is too singular to be copied. There is knowledge and research behind his images, and there is his obsession following the drabness of the everyday urban landscapes, step by step, moving slowly ahead, along the board walks and pedestrian bridges just to depict the depressing decorations urban planners tried to beautify the ugly, making things even worse. The step ahead: a long sequence of images as if taken out of a movie, a sequence that takes us on a walk through a replicated reality and through the realm of ideas about the history of city development. And we move through images that are artless in a positive sense. Here the boring remains boring, the ugly remains ugly, and still turns into beauty when we realize how it is said and why it is said.
I can´t show examples of Arne Schmitt´s work, because he is represented by Bild-Kunst, and they ask for money if I want to show his images here.