Review by Kristin Dittrich •
The Japanese photographer Seiichi Furuya arrived in Dresden in 1984 with his wife and then three-year-old son. Today Furuya could be considered as one of the rare authors bringing up a coherent photographical work about the life during the 1980’s in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR). At the end of 2017 Furuya published this photography book, Warum Dresden (English: Why Dresden), which can also be read as a narrative about Dresden at this current time.
Three narrative threads are delicately interwoven one after the other. In the first one, Furuya has photographed everything in Dresden that seemed striking to his Japanese eye: bridges, squares, parks, the Elbe – which flows through the city and significantly shapes the its identity through its width and distinctive hue.
A second narrative thread captures all the various constellations of Dresden people in their everyday lives: walking, going to work, with their families, as citizens of Dresden, who are at home in an almost impossibly beautiful landscape. In a third thread, Furuya documents his wife and son as a small unit of a family in a foreign location.
The book title, Warum Dresden, invokes a deeper reflection into its meaning. When Furuya revisited Dresden after more than 30 years in 2015, Pegida (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident) had been founded as a right-wing citizens’ alliance in Dresden, and this group circulated xenophobic slogans to oppose the refugee policies of the federal government. Furuya photographed this Pegida alliance and has added these images at the end of the book. Furuya is wondering why this alliance continues to flourish in Dresden? He has always praised the city as an idyllic landscape – a city that, in its individual beauty, faces an uncertain future influenced by so many external forces, both from the past with the World War II, communism, reunification and now the present.
Kristin Dittrich, Director, Shift School for contemporary Photography, Dresden, Germany
Note: this book was selected for Interesting Artist and Photographic Books for 2018 by The PhotoBook Journal. Read the full list.
Seiichi Furuya – Warum Dresden (Why Dresden), copyright 2017
Photographer: Seiichi Furuya (born Izu, Shizuoka Japan, lives in Graz, Austria)
Published by Spector Books Leipzig, Germany
Stiff Cover, thread-sewn, 192 pages, black-white and color photographs, 18cm x 24cm.
Esssay: Manfred Wiemer
Designer: Helmut Völter