Or one of them at least.
I mentioned Michael Schmidt the other day and our Icelandic correspondent pointed out a few of Schmidt's contemporaries and colleagues (a couple of whom I had come across before).
Interestingly all three of them were involved in the Folkwang Hochschule in Essen (and others, such as Paul Graham, seemed to become part of this loose informal grouping). Photographers and artists working together, exploring, learning usually seem to influence one another in certain ways. There is a common thread - thin and frequently tangled - which often binds them together. They may well explore different directions in their work, but there is frequently something that can be traced back to a common root.
It's been my experience that while photographers are often quite broad church in experiencing work that is quite different from their own, like most of us they also have a tendency to gather together with those of a like mind - often focusing their collective energy on solving the same problems from several different angles.
Gosbert Adler teaches in Hannover, and lives and works in Berlin. One theme in his work is cars and traffic and the faces (orfacelessness) of those travelling cocooned in them. He was recently commissioned to photograph the Italian town of Reggio Emilia.
"His work for Reggio Emilia, entitled Streets, cars and drivers, is divided into four parts: the streets, the cars, the drivers and the river.
These concepts form part of a project that the author started about two years ago, related to cars and to "living with cars".
Gosbert Adler has this to say about this project:
"I came to Reggio Emilia with one idea; I was interested in cars, and I wanted to continue working on cars, as I also dealt with this theme last year. I was interested in the idea of working in a country that I was familiar with for completely different reasons, for example, somewhere to take a holiday; I think it is interesting to see a place with different eyes. I visited places like the town's suburbs and the province's boundaries for the European Photography Week, for example, like the route between the towns of Reggio Emilia and Parma or between Reggio Emilia and Modena. I generally take photographs of places where there are no people, and then I create another ad hoc stage for them, for example, in cars. The street is the boundary between private life and public life, the limiting line, if you like. For me, the question of the theme, in this case, the Limit and the Boundary, is defined in the following way: can it be useful for me as a starting point? is it important for me? And then I start work, without thinking about the theme any longer. Everything must take shape independently. I dealt with the private life of persons in my previous work based on the objects they preserve or the objects that surround them; you could say that my work has always something to do with boundaries and with limits. I find the situation where the car is stationary at a red light interesting; this is a time when the persons are present for themselves, therefore they are concentrated. Sometimes they let their glance astray, but it is as if they were, to use a German expression, "in a shop window", but fundamentally they feel present for themselves. We are all familiar with the situation where we are stopped at traffic lights and we have the feeling of sitting at home, and this is the situation that I am interested in taking photographs of. These are not real portraits because sometimes the photograph is taken of people from the rear or from the side. Therefore, I am interested in the correlation between the private and the public sphere; to be in the car can be an important moment for my project"."
Dirk Reinartz taught in Kiel and sadly died much too young in 2004. Although much of his long-term work is usually tied in with Richard Serra's sculptures, he has worked in many other areas too - his "Benchmarking" series, as well as Bismark in America have an undercurrent of dry humour to them. But his project totenstill is especially powerful:
In 1987 the photographer Dirk Reinartz began documenting the journey of sorrow: Dachau, Auschwitz, Ravensbruck, Treblinka....The list is a long one. Seven years later he had compiled a series of 200 black-and-white photographs of the remains of the 24 death camps. The similarities between the remains at the different places - the presence everywhere of railway tracks, barbed wire, concrete, windowless walls, and the absence of details - testifie to an inhuman mechanisation and the total institutionalisation of power and cruelty.(Dirk Reinartz)
Dirk Reinartz began his photographic journey as a private project to convey to his son, born long after the war, the horrific reality of the past. Anyone who has seen these pictures of the deathly stillness of these places that were once concentration camps, the factories of death, can never repress their memory.(Dirk Reinartz)
Lastly, Timm Rautert, who now lives and teaches in Leipzig.
"Rautert, who retired in 2005, started out as a photojournalist and conceptual programme artist (he liked to describe his work as an extended photography manual), then moved on to a rather melancholy documentation of the latter-day, increasingly invisible working world and of the way we exhibit works of art... Rautert's pupils extend the prevailing narrative element in their work to encompass the film-like sequences and epic structures of a photographic literature, as readily apparent in Falk Haberkorn's photography."
With all these three - and Schmidt - although their individual work has taken them in different directions, there is still something of a common thread that wends it's way through their approach to their work.