«Willi Ruge - The Man behind the Camera»



Yes, yes, thta's the right position - Photo by Willi Ruge | IBA-Archive | KEYSTONE

From Monday, March 2, 2015, to Saturday, March 28, 2015, the "Schwarze Montag" shows eight images from the series "The Man behind the Camera" (Der Mann hinter der Kamera) by Willi Ruge.


So madam, think of something nice. - Turn your head slightly to the right. - And now a little higher. - Yes, that's nice madam. - Please don't get nervous. - Why so serious again? - No, this won't do. - Let's start again. - Smile, smile, smile, please. - May I ask you to move to the left a bit? - You have a delightful mouth. - Quite excellent. - Yes, yes, that's the right position. - Shoot. - Thank you so much, madam. 1]   


Someone gives instructions and one is tempted to turn one's head to the right and put on a smile. Willi Ruge is the man behind the camera and at the same time the author of the images. On every image he's pictured along with his camera. He gesticulates, heavily and gently, expressively, like a town looking for a murderer. Although in actual fact self-portraits, they don't refer to the depicted person, but enter into a lively dialogue with the viewer and instruct him to think of something nice and not to get nervous.


The images of Willi Ruge's (1892-1961) facial expressions are from the early 1930s. Ruge wanted to become a pilot, but went on to train as a photographer and became a photojournalist instead. He then lived out his passion for flying in his photographic work: "I photograph myself during a parachute jump" (Ich fotografiere mich beim Absturz mit dem Fallschirm) is the title of one of his image series and the series on the preparations is titled "... it Opened After All!" (... und er entfaltet sich doch!). Although his friends tried to dissuade him from this life-threatening self-experiment, he didn't relinquish his plans to, with a parachute, jump from an airplane over Berlin and published the images in the Berliner Illustrierten Zeitung after the successful jump.    

Little has been published about Willi Ruge. We'd like to point out an article by Ute Eskildsen in the book "OBJECT: PHOTO. Modern Photographs: The Thomas Walther Collection 1909-1949". Ute Eskildsen, long-time director of the Photographic Collection at the Museum Folkwang in Essen, is curator of acclaimed photo exhibitions.  

[1]  Instructions to the pantomime given by Willi Ruge.



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