ExhibitionsOther Pictures – The Photographic I
S.M.A.K., the Museum of Contemporary Art Gent
The survey exhibition Other Pictures will be examining the contemporary condition of the photographic image, exactly at a moment, when the broad field of ‘the photographic’ becomes subject to a process of historicizing and categorization. A selection of NATUR by Michael Schmidt will be shown as part of a museum exhibition for the first time. This series was edited by the artist shortly before his death in 2014.
Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg
November 3, 2017 to March 4, 2018
The exhibition takes as its theme the relationship between people and animals and features international artists including Ai Weiwei, Pierre Huyghes and Douglas Gordon. A representative selection from the LEBENSMITTEL series by Michael Schmidt will be displayed, with the aim of stimulating discussion of modern food production methods.
Michael Schmidt, WAFFENRUHE (Ceasefire), 1987 (Projection, 2018)
31.1.18-11.3.18 after sunset
Michael Schmidt has profoundly influenced the imagery of his native city, Berlin. Realised together with Einar Schleef, Schmidt’s book and exhibition project WAFFENRUHE (Ceasefire), exhibited in 1987 in the Berlinische Galerie in Martin-Gropius-Bau, played a decisive role in this process. With atmospherically condensed, fragmentary monochrome pictures of urban landscapes, natural details and portraits, Schmidt sketched a subjective image of the still-divided city. His technique moved beyond the methodology of pure documentation, and, instead, formulated in unexpected compositions the Zeitgeist of a generation just before the fall of the Wall.
He developed a world of fractures and lacunae that defy any pretence of a definitive image. Together with a text by the theatre director and writer Einar Schleef, a contrary and particular view of the fragility of human existence emerged.
Thirty years after its premiere, WAFFENRUHE is now being shown for the first time in the form of a nightly projection on the Volksbühne’s façade. This presentation form was developed in cooperation with Karin Schmidt.
A collaboration of Volksbühne Berlin and the Foundation for Photography and Media Art with the Michael Schmidt Archive.
Supported by Sparkassen-Kulturfonds des Deutschen Sparkassen- und Giroverbands. On the occasion of the presentation of Michael Schmidt, WAFFENRUHE (Ceasefire), 1987 (Projection, 2018) Verlagsbuchhandlung Walther König, Cologne, will publish a reissue of the original artist book from 1987.
PublicationsWerkstatt für Photographie 1976-1986
Koenig Books have now published German and English editions of a joint catalogue to the 2016/2017 three-part exhibition project at the Museum Folkwang, Sprengel Museum Hannover and C/O Berlin. With essays from editors Florian Ebner, Felix Hoffmann, Inka Schube and Thomas Weski, short articles from Ute Eskildsen, Christine Frisinghelli, Virginia Heckert, Klaus Honnef, Jörg Ludwig and short biographies from Carolin Förster. The 392 page publication includes over 300 images, and discusses the history, influences and legacy of the legendary Werkstatt für Photographie founded by Michael Schmidt at the Volkshochschule Kreuzberg in 1976.
The Greatest Photobooks of all Time
Issue 88 of The Photographic Review (Belfast, winter 2016) published the results of a survey on the greatest photobooks of all time. 112 international experts nominated a total of 1,119 photobooks.
Michael Schmidt appears on the list as the only German photographer in the top twenty and the only photographer with two books in the top twenty. WAFFENRUHE from 1987 is in 13th place and U-NI-TY from 1996 in 16th.
In 2018 Buchhandlung Walther König (Cologne) will publish a new edition of the artist’s 1987 book.
Issue #32 of magazine 032c (Berlin, summer 2017) features a facsimile of the article ‘West Berlin 1980s’ by Michael Schmidt, first published in issue #4 (winter 2002/2003). The picture series, designed by the artist, runs to 16 pages.
It also features an article by Kolja Reichert entitled, “The Gray Island – Michael Schmidt and the Community Workshop that turned West Berlin into a Cauldron of Contemporary Photography”.
Issue 25 of Dear Dave magazine (New York, 2017) includes an article on Michael Schmidt's U-NI-TY by publisher Michael Mack. The article ends with the sentence, “It is one of the few books I return to again and again”.
Promesse du Bonheur, poems by Michael Fried, photographs by James Welling
In his 2016 volume of poetry, American poet, critic, art historian and academic Michael Fried includes the piece “From Michael Schmidt’s Frauen”. Fried will write an essay in the context of the 2020 retrospective of Michael Schmidt’s work in one of the museums of the Nationalgalerie Berlin.
Issue 158 of the magazine October – Art, Theory, Criticism, Politics (Cambridge, Massachussetts, fall 2016) features an article by Michael W. Jennings, a Professor at Princeton University, New Jersey, entitled “The Secrets of the Darkened Chamber: Michael Schmidt’s Berlin nach 45”.
Werkstatt für Photographie 1976–1986
DonationThomas Weski library
Earlier this year, Thomas Weski donated the photographic section of his library to the Foundation for Photography and Media Art with the Michael Schmidt Archive. The collection runs to 1,600 volumes and, according to an expert opinion, “is a highly impressive collection of reference works, and reflects the collector’s achievements as a curator of groundbreaking exhibitions.” In conjunction with Michael Schmidt’s library, the Foundation now has a rich collection of photography literature, a particular strength being publications from the 1970s onwards.