Work / Publication

Der Greif dives into the archives to celebrate ten years and ten issues of the magazine

Each year, contemporary photography publication Der Greif continues to promote and praise both upcoming and established photographers. It’s annual issue has always been “at the core of its practice”, with a cover portrait image that stops you in your tracks when perusing the magazine racks.

Its tenth edition, is a celebration of ten years of the publication, and in light of Der Greif’s anniversary, founder and artistic director Simon Karlsetter and print artistic director Leon Kirchlechner, “took a deep dive into the archive” for It’s Nice That, highlighting the images that are cornerstones in the past decade of Der Greif.

Below, Simon takes us through some of Der Greif’s favourite singular images published over the years and Leon poetically explains two of his favourite photographic print pairings, a regular feature in Der Greif. “During the past 10 years, Der Greif has published works of more than 1,000 photographers, so there are a lot of favourites. It was rather hard to choose these, but here you go!”


Acacia Johnson: Polaris

This image by Acacia Johnson, from her series Polaris, was part of the first exhibition we did back in 2014 and is published in the book, A Process – Ein Prozess, as an outcome of this very project. It still hasn’t lost any of its strangeness and represents our interest in dreamy, associative image worlds.


Gita Cooper-van Ingen: Camila

This photograph was first published in issue seven and it has become a rather emotional image since as when Gita first submitted it we had only briefly met. The image ended up being published as a combination in the issue, and Gita has since become a close friend. Since the beginning of 2017 she now works as our specials editor and creative director so this image is a reminder of a nice behind-the-scenes story.


Roger Ballen: Asylum of the Birds

This image is also taken from issue seven and was the first time a well-known artist submitted to us and became part of the magazine, also standing as a shifting point within our work and for the development of the organisation of Der Greif. Additionally, an image part of Roger’s body of work entitled Asylum of the Birds, represents a very important part of our work which is rather intuitive and not always analytical.


Jiehao Su: Borderland, Man with his German Shepherds

Photographer Jiehao Su’s work has received quite a lot of attention in the past two years. We first met at the Independent Air residency in Silkeborg, Denmark in 2015 where we were giving a workshop. Jiehao had submitted an excerpt of his work to our first Guest Room with Ingo Taubhorn, the curator at Deichtorhallen Hamburg, and this image in particular was amongst the selected photographers. It is always nice to meet the people behind the pictures!


Sami Parkkinen: Growth Ring

This image, Growth Ring from Sami Parkkinen’s series, Father and Son is part of issue nine. Christoph Wiesner, the artistic director of Paris Photo, had asked Simon to contribute to the 20th anniversary of the fair with a radio piece for Radio Nova, and Simon chose to write about this particular picture. Later Sami’s wife, Tina Rauhala, the curator at the Finnish Museum of Photography, became our Guest Room curator. The world of contemporary photography is small!


Der Greif Issue 10: Pages 64-65, photography by Carl Ander, Corinne Mariaud and Danielle Ezzo

When combining images we’re always looking for the “essence” of an image.

If you put two images next to each other, they accentuate each other – and this accentuation is based on the similarities and obvious connections that can be made between them. These connections should be related to the essential character of the image, in order to create strong image combinations in which a single image can unfold and display its full potential.

In our tenth issue, we were particularly interested in the fragility of the human body and this image combination is a classic example of this concept. The portrait in the middle shows a woman that resembles a china doll: bright perfect skin, the red lips, the neat clothes and hair, and especially the empty, impassive face. Next to it – reflecting the same colours and shades, structures and contrast, an image of a round heavy marble slab, the same size as the woman’s head, is being held up by a wooden stick. The smashed egg below it – in combination with the shattered fragments of a human face in the image on the right, (for me) is like a look into the future I don’t want to see – to a dreadful brutal event that will happen to the women’s fragile body in the middle, evoking an uneasiness and a fearful shudder and disgust. But, this event doesn’t really take place, there’s just the idea of it, so everything stands still that in surreal cold and silent moment.


Der Greif Issue 8: Pages 60-61, photography by Claire Rosen, Justice Hyde, Frederick Busch, text by Daniel Bayerstorfer

Between these images you will find multiple and very obvious connections, due to the composition. There’s a straight line drawn between the eye of the bird and the man’s eye, the line encounters a drop of blood, frozen in that very moment, when it hits the tilted horizon that connects the two images on both sides. The man’s left eye is bloodshot as if there is some specific causal relationship to pouring blood on the leg. But the cause is hidden or unknown – at least to us.

But there are additional links between the images: The flower wallpaper (in which the bird is somehow camouflaged) has the same look and feel as the high-heel and the green carpet. Also, the light and colours are similar: the foot and the man are both shot with a flash, and therefore have the same sharp-edged shadow.

The man’s and the cockatoo’s eye – and also the drop of blood are just tiny spots in comparison to the whole surface of each image. But, they are still focal points that I can’t escape, that I have to look at. So my eyes are moving there and back, there and back, caught in a never ending see-saw movement…Like in a nightmare, floodlit rooms, no possibility to close your eyes, and only my imagination can tell what happened, or what will happen.