Joachim Brohm: Untitled, 1980, from the series Kleingärten
The photograph by Joachim Brohm (*1955) shows a stone slab path leading up to a red-tiled house with a peaked roof. The path passes through a lawn. It is one of those typical garden plot ensembles that can be found on the outskirts of large cities: a utility building on a corresponding lot. The Ruhr region, where Brohm took this photograph as part of his series Kleingärten, has a large number of these garden colonies. The photographer evidently took the picture in the winter in the cool, scattering light; the trees have no leaves, the sky is overcast. In terms of composition, the picture is split up into several color fields; the photographer demonstrates confident artistic access to the existing colored structures. He is one of the first photographers who turned to color photography in the 1980s. At the time, color photography was being intensely discussed with respect to its artistic relevance. One regarded it as belonging more to the area of applied photography—advertising, for instance—than to the visual arts. The Folkwang University in Essen assumed a central role within this innovatively led discussion—Joachim Brohm studied there between 1977 and 1983. The Kleingärten were begun during this period and are situated in the context of his early decision to explore the everyday and at once individually organized world of people in the Ruhr region by means of color photography, preferably free of clichés and true. For all of the restraint in the visual language, it says a great deal about the artist’s social sense as well as about his enthusiasm for things that are created with economical means, out of a certain necessity, arbitrarily or improvised; things that contain an awkward, somewhat rough beauty within themselves beyond any smooth perfectionism.
Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur, Köln