Photography: People of the 21st century

People of the 21st century not only show German people in an exhibition of photographs

People of the 21st Century in new Photographs

The year 2023 is gone and Thomas Kellner (born 1966 in Bonn) can look back on a successful start to his new project. He has already found 22% of the models for his project Facets of the Metropolis. Over 200 people have had themselves photographed as extras at home or at their place of work.

Facets of the Metropolis is the third part of Kellner's trilogy about his home, which he created at the start of the 2020 pandemic. Following a first series on Bernd and Hilla Becher, in which he reinterpreted the half-timbered houses of Siegen's industrial area, Thomas Kellner turned his attention to the unique architectural culture of the chapel schools, which were built from the mid-16th century onwards in the Nassau Dillenburg dominion under Wilhelm I and Johann VI. Since the beginning of 2023, Kellner has dedicated himself to his role model, the photographer August Sander, who, like Bernhard Becher, also came from the region. On the 60th anniversary of his death in 2024, there will be an initial exhibition of a small selection of previous pictures. The presentation of 1056 people as facets of the city is then planned for the 150th anniversary of August Sander's birth at the end of 2026.

In a second stage since July 2023, Thomas Kellner has photographed people with the following professions or leisure activities over the past five months: Chemist, ADTV dance instructor couple, police officer, policewoman, doctor, physiotherapist, geriatric nurse and social pedagogue, service worker, salesperson, retired rector, Germanist and literary scholar with her children, qualified sports teacher and silversmith, receptionist & back office, printer, professor and singer, secretary, specialist journalist, pensioner, research assistant, research assistant, research assistant, Research assistant, framer, pensioner and special school teacher, music producer & rapper, reporter, student, trainee digitalization manager, trainee media designer, cosplayer, choirmaster, owner, master optician, organ builder, marketing assistant, retired mechanical engineer. R. , accountant, schoolgirls, organ grinder, pensioner and pensioner, restaurateur, cook, commercial employee and government employee of the district police authority, ice cream seller, restaurateur, qualified music teacher, priest, blacksmith, historian, pensioner, supply chain manager, schoolgirls, bicycle mechanic and welder, hearing aid acoustician, lawyer, pensioner and student of electrical engineering, inventor, VHS lecturer, pensioner, teacher, mechanical engineer and son, educator, sports teacher, software developer, influencer, student, translator, lecturer and Germanist, senior teacher, university professor, student, dark café manager, peace educator, schoolgirl, master florist, musician, drummer, bass player, carpenter, administrative specialist, doctor, city and museum guide, retired medical secretary R., Wholesale and foreign trade merchant, bricklayer, car mechanic & unskilled worker, teacher, convalescence counselor, music education student, hairdresser, composer, women's cancer support group at Marienkrankenhaus Siegen, florist, city and museum guide, technical sterilization assistant, bookseller, actress, industrial clerk, artistic director & director, assistant director, marketing & dramaturg, student, retired brush maker, architect, communications officer, musician, visual artist, coffee roaster, retired social worker, retired priest, freelance lecturer, student, lawyer & notary, journalist, Christmas tree seller, student, bank clerk, pensioner, family. Many pictures show people practicing their profession. Anyone who would like to take part is cordially invited.

People of the 21st century in Siegen

For the homage to August Sander on his 150th birthday in 2026, Thomas Kellner portrays 1% of the inhabitants of Siegen or those who work in this city. The city of Siegen has 105579 inhabitants (January 27, 2023). This means that Thomas Kellner has set himself the goal of photographing 1056 people in this large city. The diversity of the population is reflected in the city's statistical data.

For the homage to August Sander on his 150th birthday in 2026, Thomas Kellner portrays 1% of Siegen's inhabitants or those who work here. The city of Siegen has 105579 inhabitants (January 27, 2023). This means that Thomas Kellner has set himself the goal of photographing 1056 people in this large city. The diversity of the population is reflected in the city's statistical data. Of the people portrayed so far, 87% are German (82% of the population are actually German citizens). Of these, 51 % are men Target is 50 % and 48 % are women (50 % women are the target). 29% of the people to be photographed should have a migration background (previously 21%). Without a migration background, 71% are required.

Many nations live under one Siegen roof

Thomas Kellner also wants to show the cultural diversity of the city, as many people who live or work in Siegen have different backgrounds. For people with European roots, he needs 3 Bulgarians, 1 Frenchman, 5 Croats, 2 Greeks, 7 Italians, 1 Latvian, 1 Lithuanian, 1 Dutchman, 1 Austrian, 7 Poles, 1 Portuguese, 12 Romanians, 1 Slovakian and 1 Swede. For people with roots outside the European Union, he needs 24 Turks, 21 people from the former Yugoslavia, 18 people from the former Soviet Union, 13 people from Africa, 1 person with Canadian or American roots. People from other countries are also very welcome. Thomas Kellner also needs 2 people with roots from Central or Southern South America, 52 people with an Asian background and 4 people with no home country.

Demographics of the big city

Thomas Kellner also maps the age pyramid of the metropolitan society living in Siegen. The models are divided into nine different age groups. Here are some figures: 98 children are to be photographed up to the age of 10 (previously 3% of the models), 94 young people up to the age of 19 (previously 6%), 164% up to the age of 29 (previously 9%), 146 people up to the age of 39 (previously 10%), 119 people up to the age of 49 (previously 14%), 148 people up to the age of 59 (previously 24%), 131 people up to the age of 69 (previously 35%), 86 people up to the age of 79 (previously 15%), 63 people up to the age of 90 (previously 5%) and 9 people over the age of 90 (previously 1%).

School education in the provinces

The photo artist meets people with different educational backgrounds. He is looking for 48 people with no qualifications (0% to date), 22 people who are still studying (6% to date), 343 people who have attended secondary school (25% to date), 169 people who have attended secondary school (22% to date), 70 people who have completed a technical college (10% to date) and, finally, 190 people who have graduated from high school (67% to date).

August Sander: The photographic chronicler of German society

August Sander, who was born on November 17, 1876 in Herdorf in the Westerwald, was a German photographer who is considered one of the most important and influential representatives of 20th century portrait photography. His life's work, the extensive photo project "People of the 20th Century", is a comprehensive portrait of German society during this period. Sander began his photographic career as an assistant to a mining photographer. After years of traveling through Germany, he took over a studio in Linz in 1902 before moving to Cologne with his family in 1910. He opened his own studio in Cologne and began work on his life's work. Sander took portraits of people from all walks of life and professions. He chose a neutral and unobtrusive style for his photographs, focusing on the personality of those portrayed. His portraits are characterized by a deep humanity and a keen sense of social reality. Sander was a representative of New Objectivity, an artistic movement of the Weimar Republic. His photographs are characterized by a realistic style of representation and a critical attitude towards society. Sander died in Cologne in 1964 at the age of 87. His work is still of great importance today and is exhibited in numerous museums and galleries worldwide. Sander is considered one of the most important photographers of the 20th century. His work is a unique testimony to German society at the time and has had a major influence on the development of photography.

August Sander: The photographic gaze of the young man in Siegerland

August Sander, one of the most important photographers of the 20th century, began his career as a self-taught photographer in his home town of Herdorf in the Westerwald. A chance encounter with the photographer Friedrich Schmeck from Siegen in the mine where Sander worked as a slagheap boy was the turning point in his life. As Schmeck panned his camera through the mine air, Sander was fascinated by what he saw. The mirror-inverted world that opened up to him was a new and fascinating universe for him. He knew immediately that he wanted to learn this profession. With the help of his uncle Daniel, Sander bought his first camera. He began to teach himself photography and practiced his skills. In the studio of Siegen photographer Carl Siebel, he was able to train in the various areas of the craft. Sander's talent for photography became apparent early on. He had an instinct for a good subject and was not afraid to take unusual perspectives. He found his first own motifs in the inhabitants of his homeland. He portrayed miners, farmers and craftsmen, but also ordinary people from the village. Sander's early photographs bear witness to his determination and self-confidence.  He wanted to make a name for himself as a photographer and he documented this in his works. These early works are an impressive testimony to how August Sander developed his self-image as a photographer as a young man. He saw himself not just as a craftsman who took photographs, but as an artist who reinterpreted the world through his camera.

Recommendation: After August Sander in the MGKSiegen exhibition in Siegen: A dialog between present and past in a portrait

The exhibition "After August Sander - People of the 21st Century" at the Museum of Contemporary Art Siegen (MGKSiegen) offered an exciting dialog between the present and the past. The exhibition showed works by 13 contemporary artists who refer to the work of the German photographer August Sander (1876-1964).

The first part of the exhibition presented a selection of photographs from Sander's work "People of the 20th Century", which is considered one of the most important photographic projects of the 20th century. The photographs show people from all social classes and professions and provide a comprehensive picture of German society in the first half of the 20th century.

The second part of the exhibition presented works by contemporary female artists that relate to Sander's work. The artists use a variety of media, including photography, video, sculpture and installation, to explore themes such as identity, society and memory.

One of the most striking works in the exhibition was the installation "The New Atlas of the Human Body" by Israeli artist Omer Fast. Fast collected around 1000 photographs of people from all over the world for his installation. The photographs are arranged in a huge atlas that dominates the exhibition space. Fast's installation is an impressive portrait of the diversity of humanity.

Another remarkable work was the video installation "The Absentees" by French artist Bouchra Khalili. For her installation, Khalili conducted interviews with people who have fled their homeland. The interviews are projected in a black room reminiscent of a cemetery. Khalili's installation is a powerful appeal for tolerance and understanding.

The exhibition "After August Sander - People of the 21st Century" showed that August Sander's work is still relevant and inspiring today. Contemporary artists use Sander's work as a starting point to develop their own questions and perspectives. The exhibition was an exciting contribution to contemporary art and a must-see for anyone interested in photography and society.

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