Joachim Schumacher, born 1950, studied photography at the Essen Folkwang
School in the 1970s under Otto Steinert. While still a student he developed an objective, documentary mode of portrayal that differed significantly from the journalistic style of his teacher and placed him in the vicinity of the American photographers who were becoming known at the time under the label of "New Topographic".
The focus of Schumacher's work is his own habitat; the Ruhr area with all its facets allows the photographer to work intensively on his subject and to observe their development. The enormous dimensions of the human intervention in the landscape and the drama of this era of dismantling and upheaval was exactly what Schumacher was interested in and what fascinates him to this day.
The pictures ... are not only historical evidence of the structural transformation of an industrial landscape. They are photographs conceived with passion and precision that draw attention to the surprising details without losing sight of the big picture, captivating now than it has ever been.
Let's be honest. We have long accepted it. We have adapted and made ourselves at home. In this Gebiet that has always been attributed the stigma of inhospitality. That once served as a well tried background for the critique of civilisation. That today again stands for crisis awareness.
The word alone: Gebiet. The name of a river placed in front of it, as if that would say it all. Apart from that, it evoked cold neutrality. A synonym in which one had to live and survive.
A life that was then enriched by a pinch of nostalgia after all, still frayed at the edges. New words were needed: structural change, non-place: suburbanity. They, too, were no help in the end. But at one point ahistoricity became history.
At one point facelessness was given a face. And became a myth, as it were, in which the creatures could accommodate themselves. Early on, it was photographers and writers who recognised this
Joachim Schumacher is one of them. All his pictures in this book bear witness.
They are from this world. That alone already distinguishes them. One may attest them a poetic realism. A love, surely also a pain. But what is more important: From a distance, the pictures seem to tend a new contour to this region in western Germany (comparable with what the pictures of Michael Schmldt today do for West Berlin or the pictures of Robert Adams for the American West). Oily now, after having made ourselves at home, are we able to discern a beauty as well. Without doubt, we do have a lot of staying power.
You and your friends are cordially invited to the opening on Saturday, June 28th , 2014 from 11 am to 6 pm.
The artist will be present.
There is a book available:
Joachim Schumacher Das Gebiet, Verlag Kettler, ISBN 978-3-86206-226-3, Deutsch/English,
Text von Christoph Schaden, Edit. Gerhard Kurtz