Thrown into this world, trying to position ourselves, floating around and being grounded. Dreaming, seeing the light, feeling the darkness. Always moving on and thinking back. How do we fill our frame of life? Uncertainty, fear, fragility, searching for love, guidance. Trying to be free and innocent as a child again. Seeing the light, looking through the window, trying to go through. What is behind? Looking forward looking back. Starting all over again? Duett - two parts playing together. Creating harmony and disharmony. Playing fast and playing slow. Going in one direction or against each other.
I lived in Sweden for almost 12 years. In “Duett” I captured the changes I went through since I moved to Sweden. Being grounded by the powerful nature around me, the light and the darkness, it took me some time to finally arrive and to accept the uncertainty.
The Slussen area is the hub of public transport in Stockholm, Sweden, linking together a metro station, commuter rail line, bus terminal, ferry harbour, and a complex cloverleaf-shaped road interchange and associated pedestrian passages and walkways. The name comes from the word “sluss”, which means canal lock as the area Slussen sits exactly where there are locks linking Lake Mälaren and the Baltic Sea. The history of the development of the channel at Slussen date back to the 1600’s and have evolved into a political debate of reconstruction needs since the early 1970s. Change is inevitable, change is part of history and with any radical change to a place you lose a part of its life and identity.This is my experience having lived most of my life in Berlin, a city of change. I am absorbed in the history and politics of city life but more than this I am fascinated by the physical places themselves: the shapes, the lights, the colours, the smells, the sounds, the feeling of the pulse of a city and the motions around it. At Slussen, I felt this movement. Everything connects in Slussen. People pouring through the tunnels like water, being pushed up or down to the next level. I let myself float around and found emptiness that I did not expect. It let me see a special world beneath, a construction with all its colors and shapes. It is filled with voices and motions that you feel and hear even when there is no one around.
In May 2009 the city of Stockholm announced a new master plan for the Slussen area. The reconstruction work began in 2013 and will last until 2022. I tried to preserve and document Slussen as I knew it while I was living in Stockholm between 2006 and 2017.
I travelled to Brasov, Romania together with a team of experts from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). The task was to do a documentary in a TB clinic for children. The children are living in the hospital and undergoing medical treatment for at least 6 months. Some of them have lost their parents or siblings to tuberculosis. The clinic becomes their new home. One of the older girls takes on the role of mother. She watches, protects and cares for them. The youngest still dance and play as all children do, however they have to be grown up to swallow down adult-formulated antibiotics every day. The children were open and curious, taking an active part in my photography. TB is still a significant problem in the European Union. The number of childhood TB cases reached at least 40,000 cases over the last decade. Children with tuberculosis (TB) are usually not given high priority in national TB control programmes despite increasing recognition that they are a vulnerable and important group. Children suffer severe TB related illness that contributes significantly to the overall burden of TB and potentially to overall child mortality. Worldwide, about 1 million TB cases occur each year in children (under 15 years of age). The story of the children of Brasov highlights the importance for specific research and programmes to combat childhood TB.
This mission was funded by the Stop TB programme of the World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with ECDC.
With their joint exhibition concept Transparent Thomas Raschke and Tobias Hofsäss unite their sculptural and photographic works to describe the "Swedish way of living" from their perspectives. After seven years in Stockholm, Sweden they try in a playful way to discover the underlying mechanisms of the city and its people to get a better understanding and to make them transparent for them. These findings are reflected in Tobias Hofsäss large format black and white photographs, which become even more evident in the combination with the wire objects by Thomas Raschke. The illusion of transparency through the use of photographic negatives paired with Thomas Raschke 3-dimensional transparent objects reinforces this feeling. Integration into a new and different society is a challenge. With everyday objects and images of places and the environment they live in Raschke and Hofsäss describe in their own humorous way the daily life in their new home Sweden.
Wherever I travel in the world markets attract me like a magnet. I became aware of the central market in Riga during an exhibition I had at the Photo museum in Riga in spring 2013. The market halls building structure and the atmosphere fascinated me instantly. I learned that the market was “recycled” from former Zeppelin hangars that the Germans built in Vainode in 1916. The market building was finished in 1930 and opened the same year. A time when Latvia was an independent, free country. The concept and the rhythm of a market where people meet every day, exchange goods and trade ideas have always been around. Time goes by, people, generations, politics change. The market witnessed all these moments. It became an ideal window to go through time. I am German and for my whole life I have been struggling with my countries history and therefore with my own identity. The moment we were standing in these former German Zeppelin hangars triggered so many questions that needed an answer. The project idea was born but it had to start in Vainode where the Zeppelin hangars were built in 1916.
The former airfields in Vainode are today being left to nature, which is slowly taking over and “swallowing” the former German and later on Russian military base. The open airfield space resembles the big empty market halls in Riga. The arches of the zeppelin hangars find their siblings in the former bunkers of the Russian fighter planes. The old runway seems to never end and the surrounding cornfields and forests shelter the airfield and buffer any sound that one could hear. It feels peaceful but at the same time one is disturbed by a place that has been the center of many wars and conflicts, cramped with pain and suffer. One seems to hear the warplanes, shootings and the screaming of the Jews of Vainode that were executed by Germans during the occupation of Latvia in World War II just a few meters behind the airfield. I learned a lot about the rich history of the country and its strive for independence during the last hundred years. The Latvian people are proud of the second independence of Latvia in 1992. Latvia became free but life in Vainode changed dramatically after the Russian left and the train connection to Riga stopped. Time seems to stand still and the beautiful village of Vainode is slowly deteriorating. The countryside offers all the beautiful products that one can buy every day at the Central market in Riga. The visit in Vainode left a deep impression on me and made me want to understand more of what happened to this beautiful country in the past and where it might go in the future.