No light without darkness, no fear without hope...

When Ralf Schmerberg began making films twenty years ago, he also consciously decided to no longer engage in commercial photography – because, he says, where there is a job there’s money, and where there’s money there are many expectations that the photographs ultimately have to adapt to. Ever since this liberating decision, Schmerberg has been using photography as a very intimate medium, a kind of diary in which he captures his encounters in the world – on walks, on his travels. Freed from the influence and pressure of external (and internal) expectations, not tied to a diktat of aesthetic exclusivity, he follows the simple drive to photographically capture things that move him emotionally.

Schmerberg thus constituted a gigantic image archive over the years, from which he has now arranged the exhibition AugenscHmERZ for pavlov’s dog gallery. The photographs gathered on the facing walls respectively represent the light and the dark side of the world, the joyous and hopeful side of our emotions facing their complementary nocturnal-depressive side. This opposition reveals to what extent these seemingly opposing dimensions depend on and interpenetrate one another in actuality. In modern Western society in particular, that has a knack for suppressing negative things and feelings in favour of optimism and good humor as standard features of an efficient subject, we need to be reminded of this. Just like the exhibition title’s stylised typography hints at, there is no pain (“Schmerz”) without heart (“Herz”), no light without darkness, no fear without hope, and vice versa.

©Andreas Wolf