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Helmut Newton

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Being in Bremen this weekend to make sure my parents find a working house on their return I used the opportunity to go the Weserburg museum to look at their newly opened Helmut Newton exhibition. A local collector lend them numerous prints which were shown there. And many of the prints were impressively huge black and white prints that make the analogue photo enthusiast wet his pants.

As Mr Newton goes, the focus was on naked women. Once the OMG, boobs! enthusiasm had worn off, I had to conclude that I just don’t like Mr Newton’s photos too much. They just have too much of that fashion photo stink for my taste.

Not that I were interested enough in fashion to be qualified to speak about it. But my impression of fashion photos is that they have to have hot models because the clothes look crap and they want you to spend a lot on cash on the clothes so you can look like the models. Which obviously won’t work because you’re neither pretty nor have an eating disorder. To achieve that, people in the photos always look have to look lifeless and artificial, so you can’t really identify with them but rather just remember the brand or whatever. And the whole scenery is highly artificial as well, from the surroundings to the lights. All right, odd ‘theory’ but I do think most fashion photos just look boring and dead, which is why I didn’t like those photos too much.

The photos I really liked in the exhibition were one with Jeff Koons and his wife posing like a classical statue, one of a girl flashing her boobs in a venice gondola (with the stares of the background onlookers being close to priceless). Not surprisingly those photos didn’t have what I’d consider the fashion shoot look.

There were a number of other exhibitions on in the museum. One with video art which I always find hard to enjoy simply because it’s so impractical as you often have to wait for things to start over again and because it’s frequently hard to tell what the artists wanted to do and whether I’d be interested in it in the first place. At least many of the exhibits seemed to have a decent technical quality – I frequently find video art to be of such poor quality that the people doing it should be embarrassed. Coming to think about it, what exactly is the reason to have video art outside the YouTubes?

Another exhibition ‘Art on Air’ dealt with radio art, detailing and documenting a few radio performances. I found it hard to be excited about that. Probably because I lost contact with radio years ago.

The exhibition Go for it! was rather good though. It features a range of contemporary art which the brochure said were arranged to form a coherent exhibition alongside older works. Usually reading such PR copy makes me choke, but I read that copy after seeing the exhibition and thinking that it seemed rather well-balanced. I was rather amused by some collages by Richard Prince which mixed cheap nurse novel covers with cheeky pornographic reference. Not excessively high-brow but done with just the right lightness and humour. And then they had a enormous (3 by 4 metres or so) drawing by Ralf Ziervogel which detailed a huge amount of pain and perversion in the names of Puma and adidas. Admittedly I didn’t quite understand why but the huge sheet of paper with the tiny and crisp drawings in it was overwhelming. You didn’t really know where to look and how to make sense of it.

June 2, 2008, 23:17

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