Numerous accounts of the RAF and the German Autumn in 1977 have been chronicled over the past forty years, from journalistic, historical, literary, cinematic, and artistic perspectives. Arwed Messmer begins with the various photographs made by police photographers at the time—pictures of demonstrators, crime scene images, and mug shots. How those past search for criminological evidence can be employed artistically are in the focus of his interest. Messmer strikes an arc from the beginnings of the movement to the multiple eruptions of violence in 1977, 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 can be shown? How can they be shown, and why do we want to see them? This investigation touches a key point in the debate on images that are on the one hand historical documents, and on the other hand embodiments of their own aesthetic with powerful potential for an empathetic examination of history. Especially in the late 1960s and 70s the Amerika Haus at Bahnhof Zoo was constantly the place of political protest.
The publication RAF. No Evidence / Kein Beweis, published by Hatje Cantz in 2017 is subject to the book presentation and topic of the talk with Arwed Messmer and Felix Hoffmann.
Arwed Messmer was born in Schopfheim in 1964. He lives and works in Berlin. Since the early 1990s, Messmer has documented the changing city of Berlin in photographs. In 2006, he began working with archives of image collections that no longer serve a documentary function. Since then, he has frequently exhibited and published on 1950s East Berlin, the early Berlin Wall, and the Stasi archives (occasionally collaborating with the author Annett Gröschner). Messmer has been awarded numerous prizes and fellowships, including a fellowship for contemporary German photography (2014). As part of its 2017 Biennial for Contemporary Photography, the Museum Folkwang is exhibiting his most recent works on left-wing terrorism in West Germany.
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RAF-No Evidence / Kein Beweis