Bilder des „überflüssigen“ und des „erfolgreichen“ Menschen um 1930

Wim Peeters


The images of the ‘Arbeiterfotograf’ Walter Ballhause have a sense of gritty realism. Ballhause recorded his images of people queueing at the unemployment office with a hidden camera, at a time when he was himself unemployed. They can thus be read as counterparts to a second discourse in Weimar photography: the iconography of the successful person, a fixed topos in magazines and self-help guides, where staged images using actors were presented to viewers as an aspirational ideal. Ballhause’s images also contrast with the photo documentations of Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange, which were designed to communicate a specific idea of victimhood. His photos originate in the moment and in a coincidental meeting between photographer and photographic subject. Their revealing character lies precisely in the fact that the portrayed persons go about their everyday business without any obvious posing for the camera.

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