Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart - Berlin
In January 1971 the photographer Lothar Wolleh accompanied Joseph Beuys to his first exhibition abroad in the Moderna Museet in Stockholm. Without commission and at his own expense he travelled to Sweden. One year later, Beuys and Wolleh reproduced 51 of the pictures taken there in the "Unterwasserbuch" (Underwater Book), which Beuys then laid into a water basin. They show Beuys installing his works, in thought or in a conversation. The photographs - all modern prints - are for the first time displayed together with the book.
A Hasselblad camera provided with an automatic self-timer took the pictures in a periodical rhythm. Since Wolleh renounced additional lighting and since the camera was positioned a few meters away from Beuys and the art works, these pictures remain silent witnesses of the installation of the exhibition. Nevertheless they are far from a regular documentation: Making use of the possibilities of photography, Wolleh creates situations that seem to converge with Beuys and his understanding of the "magic". Mirrorings, blurrings, isolations are but a few of the effects imparting the almost unreal nature to these images. "Wolleh had the incredible ability of sensing object relations. Endowed with great intuitional skills, he was a kind of treasure hunter," Beuys would later say. These unveil a photographer involved in Beuys' work, someone who knows how to picture the artist and his art sense in a well-thought-out manner. Their cooperation in the Unterwasserbuch shows that Beuys felt understood. The planned edition of 200 finally failed because Lothar Wolleh saw his typical black negative frame cropped and therefore stopped the production. Lothar Wolleh's work is characterized by this precision in realizing an idea and by his empathy with the work of Joseph Beuys.
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