Friedrich Seidenstücker had a particular quirkiness when it came to taking photographs. Having taken interest in what others may consider distinctly mundane, he made a niche for himself in street and animal photography. He was most successful commercially in the years prior to WWII, at a time when his optimism and sense of humor could be reflected by society as a whole. As many of his photos reveal intimate moments that are possible only when subjects are caught unaware, Seidenstücker gives us a unique insight into everyday life under the Weimar Republic.
As things began to change around him, Seidenstücker documented the transformation, not only of the physical city, but also of the individuals within it. Like many others at the time, Seidenstücker shot the devastation and the wreckage, but his continued focus on subjects that are often overlooked exposed a fragile human element behind the destruction. And afterwards? As his photographs reveal, life re-emerges.
While his city crumbled, photography enabled Seidenstücker to remain detached. He stayed hopeful and positive while the attitudes of everyone around him had drastically darkened. There was no longer a market for his optimistic, quirky style, and as a result, he never was able to reach a similar commercial success to that of his earlier career. On the other hand, this optimism is most likely the reason he remains so fascinating an artist today. Through his consistency, he revealed most starkly the contrasts between pre-and post- Second World War Berlin. The retrospective now on at Berlinishe Galerie provides a little perspective on our own daily struggles. What it shows us, I think, is that it really is the little things.
Blog entry by Anna Freedman in Berlin; Monday, October 24, 2011.