Reading August Sander's archive

Authors
Citation
A. Jones, Reading August Sander's archive, OX ART J, 23(1), 2000, pp. 1-22
Citations number
40
Language
INGLESE
art.tipo
Article
Categorie Soggetti
Arts & Architecture
Journal title
OXFORD ART JOURNAL
ISSN journal
0142-6540 → ACNP
Volume
23
Issue
1
Year of publication
2000
Pages
1 - 22
Database
ISI
SICI code
0142-6540(2000)23:1<1:RASA>2.0.ZU;2-0
Abstract
The 1929 publication Antlitz der Zeit (Face of Our Time), a book of sixty p ortraits by August Sander, is considered as one of the high-points of Germa n Neue Sachlichkeit photography. Though Sander presented his project as an objective, neutral presentation of a cross-section of the German nation, ar ranged according to social profession, the question of the politics of Antl itz der Zeit has been a source of fascination ever since Walter Benjamin ch ampioned the work in his 1931 essay 'A Short History of Photography.' While Benjamin saw in Sander's work a radical counterweight to the work of Alber t Renger-Patzsch (which, in Benjamin's famous critique, represented the aes thetic of commodity fetishism), recent writers have been less convinced. Re ading Antlitz der Zeit either in terms of the discourse of the instrumental archive, or Nazi mythology, Sander's work has been presented as, at best, problematic and limited in its depiction of social relations and, at worst, bordering on the proto-fascist. However, the attempt to identify the polit ics of Antlitz der Zeit as either radical or conservative is to ignore its complexities. Here the book is read in relation to the political discourse of the German Mittelstand(petite bourgeoisie) in order to uncover the contr adictory politics of Sander's project.