A digital photography collection creating a regional memory – a project of independent photographers
The Ruhrgebiet is a region with a unique photography scene. Among its highly regarded art and design schools in Essen, Dortmund, Bielefeld, Düsseldorf and Münster, as well as a rich concentration of museums throughout the region, photography in the Ruhrgebiet is playing an increasingly influential role.
Photographers from the Ruhrgebiet and from outside the region have always been eager to visualize the contradictions and eccentricities of the region, both in their personal and commissioned work.
Put pictures in perspective
So, where can one see the work of these dedicated photographers?
Some of it is shown to the public through exhibitions and then, with luck, a portion is documented in catalogues. But when the exhibition is over, the pictures disappear. Some are inappropriately edited and others are totally misinterpreted in the process of being adapted for use in books and catalogues. Still others lie dormant in folders, cardboard boxes and drawers with no hope of public exposure.
Until now, there has been no way to make these documents available for viewing at any time and from any place. Furthermore, there has been no means of viewing the photographs as autonomous artistic interpretations rather than simply as illustrations for glossy magazines, and therefore no way of making them available to the public at large in such a way that they can have their intended visual impact upon the viewer.
Widely available and extensive information is and always will be one of the most important preconditions of a democratic society. Does the one who controls the pictures have the power, or does the one with the power control the pictures?
„A continuous flow of information to the public is an essential prerequisite of all democratic transformation.” (Robert Jungk, 1988)
Seen in this context, the Internet opens up a new universe of possibilities. But in its multifariousness–one might even say, chaos–lies its greatest drawback. How do you find the needle in the haystack? Amid the chaos of the Internet, how can you separate the important from the unimportant, the interesting from the uninteresting?
This is where Pixelprojekt_Ruhrgebiet comes in. Quality, profile, originality and network are all essential elements of the project. A jury of established art and photography professionals, as well as area experts, guarantee the highest quality.
Pixelprojekt_Ruhrgebiet gathers in a virtual gallery various photographic interpretations of the different aspects of the Ruhrgebiet and its changes. It collects them, structures them and makes them viewable on an Internet site.
The photo series chosen thus far are all the work of German and international photographers who have worked in the Ruhrgebiet or are still working there, among them, fine art photographers, university professors, state and news photographers, and newcomers who are still studying, as well as amateurs who have received important honors for their work.
The collection to date encompasses the full spectrum of styles—from the abstract to the documentary, from staged images to photojournalism. Some of these works are quite recent. Some are already classics, depicting the region during the time before the decline of the coal-mining and steel industries (see, for example, “Urban and Industrial Landscapes in the Ruhrgebiet” by Joachim Schumacher, or “So near – so far” by Brigitte Kraemer). Some are the result of a compelling idea brought into photographic being in a matter of just a few days (for example, “Heroes of the Ruhrgebiet” by Jens Nieth and Arno Schidlowski, or “Phoenix” by Ben Plefka), and others are the result of long-term projects, in which the photographer has spent as long as 30 years interacting with a particular theme (for example, “Working Milieu” by Manfred Vollmer).
Most of the works deal with industrial and urban culture, society, work, sport and other leisure pursuits, or with nature and landscape. All of the series share an intensity of engagement with their subject.
The project is creating a digital archive that establishes the Ruhrgebiet as a unique region within Europe, as well as documenting local, regional and international interest in photography about the region.
Application and contact
Any photographer can apply on line to participate in Pixelprojekt_Ruhrgebiet. The jury meets annually to consider applications and photographs selected will also be exhibited at a venue in the Ruhrgebiet.
Beyond the Internet project, Pixelprojekt_Ruhrgebiet will endeavour to develop additional possibilities to advance photography in the Ruhrgebiet and to create a network of photographers and website users. If you wish to become part of this network, please contact us.
Pixelprojekt_Ruhrgebiet originated in the independent photography scene and retains this independence even as it cooperates with such established institutions as the Ruhrlandmuseum in Essen, the German Werkbund and others.