Entries in germany (32)


Jesus Was A Jew

My goal in 2009 is to really concentrate on getting my project completed. By the winter of 2009, I want to be editing images for a book. That's my goal. In order to do that, I'm going to cut back on workshops (maybe do two next year) and get my technical writing and DVD material completed this year (in the next couple of months).

It was a good day today. Sunday and Germany equals no one bothering you about "what you're doing". Any other day, or any other time, I would have never been able make this image.

I find this image both ironic and symbolic. Ironic in the sense that Jesus was a Jew. Symbolic in the sense that Jesus was a Jew (and that He represents salvation and love). I find it kind of kitschy too - that's why I made it on a piece of plastic (black acrylic, I call it an "Acrylotype"). I made the image with an old Derogy lens. It's not big enough to cover the plate (8"x10") edge to edge, so it gives it that vignette. Vignettes make me feel like I'm looking through a keyhole or seeing something I'm not supposed to be seeing. I like the effect it gives of saying (visually), "LOOK HERE".  Images of Jesus on the cross always remind me of Serrano's work too. He made an image called, "Piss Christ" that everyone took out of context and misunderstood. I'll never forget it.

You'll see these kinds of statues in a lot of the Catholic states/counties in Germany. You'll also see a lot of crosses. And every village has a Catholic church in its center with its steeple stretching toward heaven.

Jesus Was A Jew


Art Is The Enemy Of The Routine

"Adoph Hitler Strasse" - Viernheim, Germany In my (ongoing and lifelong) pursuit of defining the meaning and  purpose of art, I've come across a lot of insightful and powerful quotes. Simon Schama said something so simple and brilliant that I felt compelled to share it with you here. He said, ""Art is the enemy of the routine, the mechanical and the hum drum. It stops us in our tracks with a high voltage jolt of disturbance; it reminds us of what humanity can do beyond the daily grind. It takes us places we had never dreamed of going; it makes us look again at what we had taken for granted."

Of course, this isn't definitive (in defining art), but for me, it defines an aspect of what good art can do and some of the purpose involved in making art.

There is something to be said for being "present" in your daily life. Present to the good and to the not so good. I believe artists are highly perceptive and extremely "present" in their daily lives (sometimes too present as they go mad or sink into depression). The subtle, unnoticed details are what tell the story. Artists are very good at picking up on those and sharing their opinions or views about them. If you think about all of the mundane and superficial information we are subjected to on a daily basis, few things are really valuable. Artists have an important voice in the world, I wish more people listened.


Photokina 2008 - Cologne, Germany


Minox Girl at Photokina 2008, Cologne, Germany
I have mixed emotions about Photokina 2008. On one hand, it's interesting and kind of fun, and on the other hand, it's disgusting and nauseating. 

Overall, it's an exercise in greed, consumption, overindulgence, etc. all of things people say that I'm (and most Americans) an expert in. Seriously, it was disturbing to be there as the economy (Wall Street) in America was tanking, not to mention the ongoing suffering and hunger throughout the world. It's just hard to reconcile all of it looking at $5,000 (USD) cameras and $10,000 (USD) printers. Mostly, it was middle-aged men drooling over phalic toys they couldn't afford. C'mon, nothing is that important! Maybe I'm just getting old and soft (I can validate the "soft", it's true).

My main bitch is that it was €21 Euros to get into the place (that's $32 U.S. dollars today). Are we paying to get into a place to see what we want to buy? We're paying people to advertise to us!! Wow!! Wrap your head around that one!

My praises: There were some pretty interesting advancements in technology. The printers were unbelievable. All of them cranking out huge (8' x 12') color digital prints (if it's big, it's important)! They called it the "fine art printing section." The underwater cameras were pretty cool too. Not that I would ever need any of this stuff, but you know, it was kind of fun to see.

Billy Cargile, my new co-worker went with me. We didn't really want too stay long. We just wanted to hit some of the highlights and head back south. It was a 3.5 hour drive back because of traffic jam (Stau) just outside of Cologne. It's always fun to wrap a day of consumption around a 4 hour traffic jam. Yummy!

I suppose it was a good excuse to get out of the studio take a long drive and bum around Cologne again (it's a great city). As a side note, Cologne (Köln) is a very progressive and art centered city. I've been to a couple of art shows in Köln that I really enjoyed. The people are great too.

Back to Photokina... am I going to Photokina 2010.. ? No - been there done that and got the Minox ad to prove it.

Billy Cargile at Photokina - September, 2008


Kristallnacht Lecture: Mannheim High School

On Monday, April 28, I was invited (by Summer's teacher) to be a guest speaker in two honor history classes. Summer had told her about my project. I was happy to oblige. If you know me, you know that I rarely turn down an opportunity to have people listen to what I say and look at what I make. Needless to say, I accepted.

The classes, one with about 10 students and the other with about 18, just started reading Elie Wiesel’s, “Night”.  This is a powerful and disturbing account of the Wiesel family’s torture and suffering in the concentration camps of Germany and Poland. Although my project is directly related to the Holocaust, it’s (Kristallnacht) more obscure and less known.

I started by asking definition of words like “anti-Semitism” and “pogrom”. I talked about what I believe caused the world to turn against the Jews and to allow the near annihilation of them. For me, it was important to stress that living in Germany and understanding this history changed how I viewed the world. How living here made an abstract idea, a real life “concrete” event for me.

I quoted Martin Luther King, Jr., "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." I talked about "indifference" and silence - or turning your head when bad things are happening to other people. I referenced this poem by Pastor Martin Niemöller too.

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.


I showed a 6 minute presentation I put together of my work so far and then took questions. It was very rewarding and I look forward to doing it again.



Kristallnacht: The Beginning

I really love this image (it will probably end up on the front of my new web site) - this was the first plate of the day. It's an 8" x 10" black glass Ambrotype shot with a small Jamin-Darlot (c.1864) lens - I like the "keyhole" effect this lens gives the image.

We visited Mainz, Germany today. It's about 45 minutes to the north of us. I made three wet plate collodion images there of the former synagogue. It was perfect weather and a perfect day for it.

The Germans were very friendly in Mainz. We had a paper ready to handout to them explaining what I was doing. There were a few very positive and encouraging responses; I was surprised. There were a few that stayed and watched as I went through the entire process and saw the final plate coming up in the fix. Really great stuff!

I am very excited about this project now; the results were fantastic today and I look forward to going out again in a few days to make more images. Jean and Summer were outstanding! I love you both! Thank you for all of your help - I couldn't do this crazy thing without you!

The memorial plaque - this plate is exquisite in real life. The details are amazing - especially the stones
and the relief of the old synagogue. This is an 8" x 10" Ambrotype on black glass.

Quinn exposes a plate as Summer rolls video.

Here's the setup: Toyota 4Runner and a portable darkroom!

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