[...] Ich liebe dich. I love you. The three old words that two people exchange. Always. And even in our world of poverty and wealth, ugliness and beauty, fear and hope. Someone who had experienced so much in two opposite German states, in Spain, Algeria, and elsewhere still, who had seen war and also peace. This someone wanted to make himself understood, through speaking of love, through the birth of his child, through the landscape he inhabits [...]- From Ich liebe Dich, on Dirk Alvermann, Rostock 1979.
Ich liebe Dich was published in East Germany in 1979. The book’s author was a photographer and cameraman from Düsseldorf named Dirk Alvermann, who lived and worked in East Berlin, GDR. Little has been published on his art. Ich liebe Dich nevertheless builds a productive framework, within which disparate elements
- such as birth, Germany’s fraught history, love, bull fighting in Spain, the Algerian war and Berlin - are brought together.
It is within Alvermann’s furtive framework that the exhibition Ich liebe Dich, curated by Jörg Koch of 032c magazine, has brought the work of three stylistically diverse contemporary photographers together, each of them based in Berlin, like Alvermann was: Viktoria Binschtok, Oliver Helbig, and Heinz Peter Knes. As such, a book dug out of storage at a vintage book dealer has served as a model to make a statement about the intimate landscape of politics and the political landscape of intimacy, in Berlin, and beyond.
Oliver Helbig’s Iranian Surface features overhead views of military areals; sites that conjure contemporary political issues are touched with a certain pathos and romanticism. Führer Fixer Fantasien, Helbig’s newest series, depicts the brush and overgrowth now used by junkies around the former Prinz Albrecht Palais
- once home to the Reichssicherheitshauptamt of the SS - on Wilhelmstrasse in Berlin. Allies destroyed most of the buildings in the area; the buildings that survived the war came down afterwards, leaving the political heart of Berlin an overrun ruin in the city center.
Viktoria Binschtok has also turned her lens to a political site in Berlin, when she photographed the corridors of an unemployment office in Neukölln. There, she documented the abstract traces left by the unemployed who have passed through the facility’s waiting rooms, and who, leaning their caps and heads on the walls behind them, have worn Cy Twombly-esque tangles of grey into the white paint and mapped out the social security reforms of Hartz IV that have touched them.
Thirty-two photographs taken over twelve years’ time make up Heinz Peter Knes’ Die Schwulennummer
- the gay number - a series of portraits dealing with homosexuality in 32 of its forms, at times provocative, always intimate. Knes’ Simone und Bo, a family portrait for the 21st century, depicts an androgynous parent and child posing in a papasan chair. With images such as these, Knes’ discourse goes beyond that of homosexuality and into the realm of selfhood, family, and love at large.
Ich Liebe Dich is curated by Jörg Koch of 032c Magazine, Berlin