»100 years of bauhaus II: DAS WATT«
David Batchelder | Alfred Ehrhardt
Curated by Dr. Christiane Stahl
Alfred Ehrhardt’s first major photographic work DAS WATT (The Tidelands) (1933–1936) is an ode to nature. It is among the most outstanding visual achievements of the avant-garde photography of the 1930s and represents the crème de la crème of his photographic oeuvre. The artistic quality of this series remains unequalled, even among the masters of New Objectivity photography. Created during Josef Albers’s preliminary course at the Bauhaus in Dessau, the work reveals Ehrhardt’s fascination with the structures in the sand that emerged every day anew, formed by wind and water. These reminded him of his teachings on the nature of materials, in which his students were required to learn to discern the “structure, texture, and consistency” of materials. Ehrhardt’s concept for the image series was to look for the natural laws in the synergy of nature’s forces by comparing the form variations created anew each day. His typology of sandy-reef formations suggests a conscious connection between microcosm and macrocosm.
In contrast to Alfred Ehrhardt, US photographer David Batchelder (b. 1939) purposely uses a digital camera to coax astounding sand formations out of the coastlines of the Isle of Palms near his hometown of Charleston, South Carolina. Batchelder asserts these would have remained hidden to him using analog technology:
My ability to see has grown because I have been able to make and see many thousands of photographs. My vision has grown as a result. I see so many interesting things in the sand now that were there before, but beyond my vision.”
Batchelder purposely addresses human perception: the abstracting of the nature motif, reduced to a minute amount of information, generates inner visions. It seems nearly impossible not to discover something concrete in these images. Something within us strives to see faces, figures, a landscape, or a galaxy, and yet we are only looking down on a limited stretch of beach.
Unlike Ehrhardt, Batchelder is not interested in the laws of structure, but in the chaotic, strange, surreal, non-rational, in short: the world of dreams and the imagination. Batchelder’s play-like freeness contrasts with Ehrhardt’s objective structural order – science versus poetry.
For further details on all framework events please visit the website of the Alfred Ehrhardt Foundation.
Sunday, April 28, 2019, 2 pm
ALFRED & ME, Artist talk with David Batchelder and Dr. Christiane Stahl, Alfred Ehrhardt Stiftung. Held in English.
Wednesday, May 29, 2019, 7 pm
Film screening and talk: Alfred Ehrhardt’s film Urkräfte am Werk (1937) in the film Die Deutschstunde (Autumn 2019). Christiane Stahl talks to Darius Ghanai, who designed the title sequence, about the adventures of searching for subjects, lost film reels, and digital reproductions. Held in German.
Wednesday, June 26, 2019, 7 pm
In the series Literaturhaus der Fotografie: Terra Poetry. An Essayist Approach to Alfred Ehrhardt’s and David Batchelder’s Tideland Photographs by Daniel Falb, Moderation: Thomas Böhm (radioeins: Die Literaturagenten). Held in German.