30 years after its original and only release in 1987, Michael Schmidt’s legendary and long out-of-print photobook « Waffenruhe« (« Ceasefire« ) – considered as the best photobook about Berlin at the time of the Wall – is now being republished by Walther Koenig and Stiftung für Fotografie und Medienkunst.
The photographic series was originally exhibited in Berlin in 1987 at the Berlinische Galerie in GropiusBau. In Waffenruhe, Schmidt shows West Berlin shortly before the fall of the Wall by combining portraits of youths with images of anonymous sites bordering the Wall and the Wall itself. As is characteristic of his work, it is the arrangement of the individual photographs and the use of high contrasts — the interplay and dialogue between the multi-layered images — that gives the images their distinct meaning, revealing the correlation between historical events and individual biographies.
Schmidt evokes a world of ruptures and absences that eschews a confident, comprehensive point of view. The images work with Schleef’s text to create a brusque, entirely individual perspective on the fragility of human existence.
This artist’s book – often included on lists of the most influential photographic books of all time – is once again being made available. Two versions are available, german or english.
In addition to the book release, the Volksbühne theater in Berlin is projecting Waffenruhe’s photographs and text on its façade. Curated by Thomas Weski, the projection will be on display every night (from darkness to midnight) until 13.03.2008.
About the Photographer:
Michael Schmidt was born in 1945 in Berlin, where he died in 2014. His works can be found in national and international collections and have been presented in numerous solo and group exhibitions.
In 1976, Michael Schmidt founded the Werkstatt für Fotografie at VHS Berlin-Kreuzberg, which became a major forum for international discussions on photography in (West) Berlin. In 1987 he exhibited Waffenruhe at Berlinische Galerie. In 1988 the Museum of Modern Art, New York presented the work in the exhibition „New Photography 4″. In 1996 Ein-heit was shown for the first time at MoMA, New York under its English title U-ni-ty. This was the first solo-exhibition of a German photographer at MoMA since decades. In the same year, Ein-heit was presented for the first time in Germany at Sprengel Museum Hanover. In 1995, a first survey exhibition of his work was on view at Museum Folkwang Essen. In 2010 Michael Schmidt presented his comprehensive survey exhibition “Grey as Colour. Photographs since 2009” at Haus der Kunst, Munich. Lebensmittel (Food) was presented in solo exhibitions at Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen (2012), Galerie im Taxispalais, Innsbruck (2013) and at Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (2013).
Michael Schmidt participated in the 55th Venice Biennial in 2013, and the Berlin Biennial in 2006 and 2010. In 2014 the artist was awarded with the Prix Pictet for his series « Lebensmittel ».
The Foundation for Photography and Media Art with the Michael Schmidt Archive was founded in 1999, and since the artist’s death is organising and preserving the artist’s archive (www.archivmichaelschmidt.de). Thomas Weski, curator of the Michael Schmidt Foundation, is currently working on a retrospective of the artist’s work at Nationalgalerie Berlin in 2020.