I see dead people – or at least I collect pictures of them

Hans-Peter Feldmann

In September I went to Berlin. And I went to the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum Fur Gegenwart – Berlin. And there I saw two very moving and disturbing collections. The first one was by Hans-Peter Feldmann.

Feldmann collected, archived and compiled familiar and everyday motifs from print media since the 1970s.

He also collected images of the dead, gathered as if forming an archive, and he decided to bring them together in a deliberate gesture of an unbiased documentation. He photocopied newspaper images on to A3 paper to portray the police officers, hostages, terrorists and civilians who died  in the aftermath of the 1967 shopping of Benno Ohnesorg at a demonstration in Berlin. Following this, violence and terrorism  escalated, leading to the deaths of around 100 people. It is images of the deaths of these people that Feldmann collected.

The images were arranged chronologically by date of death, each individual on a single sheet of paper, the sheets all in a long line at eye level. The name and date of death of each person was listed below each image. Sometimes additional information was provided such as age, status or cause of death.

The A3 images of dead people.

The work is supposed to be a confrontation with the deaths of people as the result of terrorist acts.

I found the images very moving and disturbing. They definitely made me think and ponder the lives of the people in the images, and the sadness of their deaths. Some showed a simple snap shot of a life, including one of a man sat with a cup of tea by his side, captured just sitting, chatting, about to have a sip of tea. That image affected me more than the gory blood-soaked images of death.

References:

Hamburger Bahnhof: Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin, Ausstellungen / Exhibitions Spring Summer 2012, museum brochure

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