Review by Gerhard Clausing •
Bamberg is a Franconian town in Bavaria with a substantial history going back at least 1,000 years. I was able to visit Bamberg this past summer; the juxtaposition of ancient traditions and contemporary approaches are a delight to experience. Part of that culture is a distinguished Symphony Orchestra that is in demand for performances in Germany, Europe, and other parts of the world, documented in this set of photobooks.
This year, we are fortunate to see the completion of the third volume of this set of three, all of which tell the stories of performances by the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra over the last several years. They feature not only the innovative and highly perceptive documentary photography of Andreas Herzau, but also a large number of interesting supplementary texts, presented almost like a souvenir program that might accompany the orchestra’s performances. The three volumes have the topics “Europe as a Home Base,” “Performances in China,” and “Bamberg the Location.”
The documentary photography by Andreas Herzau is nothing short of astonishing. As I have noted before, he is always right in the middle of the action, working with prime lenses to capture the excitement in all locations, whether it is in the rehearsal or performance spaces or in the surrounding environments on these travels. Herzau presents things from unusual angles, allowing us to share these travels, with our curiosity more than fully satisfied. His vision gives us an uncanny sense of being there ourselves, almost like hearing the music jump off of the printed page. The work is primarily in black and white, with occasional color shots interspersed. Below, I have excerpted four representative spreads from each of the three photobooks. As you can see, the depictions of locations as well as of the performances are very dynamic. The double pages are printed flush to maximize the visual impact of each image. The juxtapositions of two images across each double page (where they occur) are also particularly appealing. This makes each of the three volumes interesting from beginning to end and constitutes an excellent job of visual editing.
The superb editing can also be noted in regard to the textual material. There are interviews and discussions that shed light on music, culture and cultural differences, the importance of the historical context, the process of photographing musical performances, and much more. We have a sense that Holger Noltze and the team have given a great deal of thought regarding a comprehensive documentation of not only the work of the orchestra, but also its significance from a number of perspectives. Each of the three volumes is supplemented by a complete list of all the members of the orchestra and its organization. Maps of the locations of all performances, many of which were given during the difficult pandemic period, are shown on the inside covers.
This set of books is a delightful example of imaginative and comprehensive visual and verbal documentation of cultural events and their circumstances, and I recommended this project highly for the many inspiring hours as you peruse its many pages.
The PhotoBook Journal previously featured reviews of Andreas Herzau’s books Liberia and AM.
Gerhard Clausing, PBJ Associate Editor, is an author, photographer, and synthographer from Southern California.
Andreas Herzau & Holger Noltze – Bamberg Diary #1, #2, #3
Photographer: Andreas Herzau (born in Mainz, Germany; lives in Hamburg)
Editor and Producer: Holger Noltze
Publisher: Nimbus. Kunst und Bücher AG, Wädenswil am Zürichsee, Switzerland; © 2020, 2021, 2022
Essays and Texts: Alfred Brendel, Eleonore Büning, Jacob Burckhardt, Uwe Rada; Xuewu Gu, G. W. Leibniz, Jiatong Wu; Nora Gomringer, Gerhard C. Krischker, Anke Liebau, Eckart Liebau, W. G. Sebald, Hans Wollschläger, Wen Xiao Zheng
Languages: German and English
Illustrated hardbacks, half-linen, sewn; 276, 214, 198 pages; 16.3 x 22.2 cm (6.5 x 8.75 inches); printed and bound in Germany; ISBNs 978-3-03850-074-2; 978-3-03850-081-0; 978-3-03850-092-6
Photobook Designer: Marc Eichner Kreativstudio, Wunsiedel
Articles and photographs published in the PhotoBook Journal may not be reproduced without the permission of the PhotoBook Journal staff and the photographer(s). All images, texts, and designs are under copyright by the authors and publishers.
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