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제목 [문화소통 포럼 CCF] [INTERVIEW] Andreas Muhe questions photography [코리아타임즈 2019-07-09]
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Andreas Muhe explains the recent project "Mischpoche" to The Korea Times. Korea Times photo by Kim Kang-min

By Lee Han-na

Andreas Muhe is a renowned German photographer, known as the favorite of Chancellor Angela Merkel. 

His project "Obersalzberg" definitely brought a lot of public attention because it was the mountainside retreat of Adolf Hitler where he lived and rested in the Bavarian Alps. Muhe started the project, at first from the influence of Leni Riefenstahl, who photographed the dictator. 

Curious about photography in World War II, Muhe wondered how the camera was used to glorify Hitler. 

"Both Heinrich Hoffmann and Leni Riefenstahl worked for the dictator, [taking pictures] to let him glow in a way," Muhe said. "It is maybe one reason to destroy this idea of photography, like what is photography? It is a good subject to make people believe in something?"

The Korea Times interviewed Muhe during the recent Cultural Communication Forum 2019 at Grand Hyatt Seoul. 

The artist, 39, started photography in 1996 and began working as a freelancer in 2001. He is well-known for his unusual methods: he uses an old-style camera, carefully measures the brightness and position of the lights, and above all, he puts a historical timeline throughout his projects.

Andreas Muhe, (left) Villa Hugel, and (right) Unterm Baum, from the series A.M. - Eine Deutschlandreise, 2013. Courtesy of Andreas Muhe

The questions about photography and its meaning can be seen throughout Muhe's works, such as the pictures of a woman ― believed to be the Chancellor ― starring over a car window from the project, "A.M. ― Eine Deutschlandreise."

Muhe explained, "Everybody says I am the great German Chancellor's photographer but I didn't want to be a Chancellor's photographer, but for all, seen as an artist.

"So I asked my mother to travel around some important historical places in Germany. I gave her a wig, new suits just as Mrs. Merkel was wearing, and asked her to look at the window. Everybody was thinking it was the Chancellor, but she has not been there. You can believe in some images but it is not always the truth."

The ambivalence of photography can also be seen in his recent project "Mischpoche," which in Hebrew means family. The pictures are mainly of his family, especially his father and mother brought back to life as a mannequin.

Andreas Muhe, Muhe I, from the series Mischpoche, 2016-2019. Courtesy of Andreas Muhe

He took group family portraits of people on his mother's and father's sides, where mannequins of the dead and the living coexist. He also took a photo of his father with his daughters, which according to the artist, never happened.

Muhe pays great attention to the settings: the location, position, and expression of a human subject, as well as the place and time the photo is being taken, to express and share messages. 

"Whoever controls images controls reality," he said. "It's about determining which images show certain motifs at certain points in time; how they show it and who the audience is."

His latest project "Mischpoche" is an exhibition at the Hamburger Bahnhof ― Museum for Contemporary Art ― Berlin until August 11.

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