Right next to the Bahnhof Zoo which used to be the main station of West Berlin there is the Museum for Photography. Yesterday Ezequiel and me decided to go there after we saw that there was a bookshop for photography books in this museum. We both have a thing for books and buy too many of them. We also thought that maybe it could be inspiring to see a photography exhibition. What we didn’t know was that the museum at the moment only shows their collection of Helmut Newton photos.
We walked through the exhibition with a mounting sense of dread. Plasticky fake people in plasticky fake pretty situations. Everything seemed to be so upper class and rich. Most women had only a silly pouting face as their expression, all other faces seemed blank, without emotion. Should people look like this? The naked women in the pictures seemed like puppets, mannequins, overdone, harsh. Helmut Newton then reflects on this ironically it seems by taking similar pictures with actual mannequins and barbie dolls. His naked women are replaceable, fake and without a core. For a few minutes we watched a video of Newton working with Sigourney Weaver. He almost didn’t interact with his subject, only talked to his assistant in French and as the minutes passed Sigourney Weaver seemed to disappear, she was just someone following instructions, almost invisible.
The only picture that had some appeal was one of Nastassja Kinski (you can see the picture here). My guess is that her picture is more appealing because she was the only woman who smiled. This made her look more natural and expressive. I don’t think I saw a smile in any other picture in the exhibition.
After we watched a bit of an interview with Helmut Newton we left the exhibition, not knowing what to think of it. There were visually stunning pictures of obviously stunning women, but they all seemed dead and lifeless. Was it on purpose? Who knows? Was it ironic? Who knows?
We then went on into the bookshop, but for me it all felt too much, I just wanted to sit down, close my eyes and not even think for a while. We didn’t even buy a book in the end and I felt too tired to take pictures. Maybe it was this odd sense of feeling overwhelmed that got me to yesterday’s picture. I would like to tell you what’s going on in this shot, but honestly, I have no clue! These girls were just there outside the station in Jebensstraße. The girl on the right got ready to take a picture, the girl on the left was smoking a cigarette in the most bored way imaginable and the girl in the middle was doing something very mysterious that didn’t seem connected to the other girls’ actions. It was just plain odd.