Numerous accounts of the ‘70s militant leftist Red Army Faction, or the Baader-Meinhof group, have been published over the past 40 years. Here, Arwed Messmer (born 1964) takes images made by police photographers at the time—pictures of demonstrators, crime-scene photographs and mug shots—to create a narrative arc from the beginnings of the movement in the early ‘70s to the eruptions of violence in 1977 (the infamous “German Autumn”), the abduction and murder of Hanns-Martin Schleyer and the suicides of Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and Jan-Carl Raspe in Stammheim Prison. Messmer’s work therefore also has an ethical dimension: which photographs should be shown, how might they be shown and why do we want to see them? This investigation touches a key point for contemporary debates about historical documents with an aesthetic dimension offering potential for an empathetic examination of history.
On February 27, 1975, Peter Lorenz, a Christian Democratic politician in West Berlin, was abducted by the Bewegung 2. Juni, or June 2 Movement. Today, if you search the event online, one image appears that is still embedded in collective visual memory, featuring Lorenz in his cell. However, a body of about 3,000 negatives has survived, hidden in an archive. They were produced during investigations by Berlin’s state security and also include the documentation of a meticulous reenactment by the police featuring the original materials used to build the basement space. Unlike the events that took place during Germany’s fall of terror in 1977, this abduction ended without bloodshed. Here, Arwed Messmer (born 1964) places the images in relationship to one another based on their material, size, detail and placement.
In the archives of East Germany's Stasi secret police, there are countless photographs of failed escape attempts across the Berlin Wall. Here, German artist Arwed Messmer (born 1964) presents a complex collage of found, retouched and recontextualized visual records and Messmer's own photographs.
Published by Hatje Cantz. Edited by Annett Gröschner, Arwed Messmer. Text by Greg Bond, Olaf Briese, Florian Ebner, Matthias Flügge, Annett Gröschner, Arwed Messmer.
In 1965-66, soldiers from the East German border patrol photographed 40 kilometers of the east side of the Berlin Wall, producing more than 1,000 images. In The Other View, Arwed Messmer (born 1964) digitally reconstructs these photographs to produce 300 panoramas, to which author Annett Gröschner provides captions. Please note that the book is bound with a special “open softcover” technique which allows the opened book to lie flat. To this purpose its end leaf has only been partially glued to the cover. This is no binding mistake, but a unique printing technique specially created for the book!