On August 4th, the inaugural Belfast Photo Festival will open in Northern Ireland, highlighting the contemporary photography of artists such as Simon Norfolk, Paul Seawright, and Christof Plüemacher, among others. LightBox spoke with Plüemacher about his project documenting European stereotypes.
It was a game of lawn bowling in a British park that started fine art photographer Christof Plüemacher on his quest to capture stereotypes across Europe. “I was partly amused, and partly impressed by the conviction and seriousness of the participants,” says Plüemacher, “and my first thought was ‘that’s so British.’”
The German fine arts photographer, who has a degree in business, only launched his career in 2007 after over a decade in advertising. He quickly began winning awards for abstract series like Speedtrees, blurred flashes of trees, and admiration for portrait series like Africa Jobs, showing dignified workers, auto parts dealers, postal workers and coffin-makers, framed by the tools of their trade.
In Europe, his camera captures intentionally narrow observations, with all action taking place around the edges, leaving the viewer to fill in the blanks or begin their own narrative. For France, he picked the 2009 Tour de France; for Spain, bullfighting; and for his own country, a Prussian military parade, which reflect the “rigidity and orderly structures in different aspects of German life,” says Pluemacher, “in particular, the German administration.”
Plüemacher isn’t finished yet. He says he’s going to continue to expand the series, and has already started on Iceland after finishing a take on the Netherlands.
—Deirdre van Dyk