Dieter Appelt

Born in 1935 in Niemegk (DE)
Lives and works in Berlin (DE)

Die befreiung der finger n°2

Black and white photograph, gelatin-silver print
40 x 30 cm
Year of Purchase: 1988

For Dieter Appelt, photography is a plastic praxis that is worked and prepared, and overtly formal, veering towards an agreed model of the spontaneous ‘click-clack’. Pause time more than pose time. Nothing either automatic or magic, but the conditions lent to a representation of self-impression, to reveal an ontology of the object or scene rather than describe a fleeting split second. A sort of pictorial empiricism: showing time at work rather than freezing it.
But if Appelt uses imagery, he is not a photographer. He is rather a sculptor (depiction of volumes in space and use of raw materials to model, crystallize, and mesmerize), a performer (using his body as a pictorial medium like buto artists, or someone like Schwarzkogler), a filmmaker (a serial montage of images triggering a narrative), and even a musician (replaying his motifs in the form of scores, in a determinedly minor key).
For this artist, born in what was then East Germany in 1935, the essential issue, over and above the medium, actually and definitely has to do with the limits and possibilities of representation, ways of working the ineffable unutterableness of the universal pain of death. Two answers: first, depiction and representation of his own, but corrupted, body, as redemption or shaman-like invocation of departed souls. A ‘critical’ narcissism, on the verge of destruction. Then the use of craftsmanlike procedures of shots and development with the aim of relieving the image of its reality. No longer a recording, but an imperfect counter-type of reality, dreamlike in type, which borrows the visual crackling interference and the confusion of mental images.

Guillaume Désanges