Zwischenzeit or Intermediary Period refers to the time-difference between two clearly defined points in time. In the case of Jörn Vanhöfen’s present work, it refers to the period between 1989 and 1991. The works that arose during this intermediary period are probably Jörn Vanhöfen’s most personal of all. In October 1989, he seized his chance and switched from the Folkwangschule Essen to the Academy of Fine Arts in Leipzig, making him the first West German to study at the HGB at the time. He witnessed the falling of the Wall and experienced the reunification of Germany in the East. The twenty-three works shown here are part of the diploma thesis he completed at the Academy for Fine Arts in Leipzig in 1991.
In 1989 Vanhöfen was living in a country that he was unable to relate to and found himself playing the role of documentary film-maker and independent author. Traveling the country, he documented the state of stagnation and, with his pictures, created metaphors for the emerging process of societal change. Vanhöfen portrays scenes far-removed from every-day politics. His work is characterized by hazy boundaries of seemingly familiar objects and distances. He has the eye of an author-photographer who combines the subjective side of photography with an analysis of societal reality.
For these works, Vanhöfen chose black-and-white photography and a large-format camera. Pursuing this aesthetic approach, he not only captures the prevailing sense of stagnation, but also the desire for change and this impenetrable grey. Each of his figures seems to be holding its breath and waiting for something. And between them are the repeated glimpses of a wall already crumbling, and soldiers looking perplexed. ‘The greyness of the societal situation flowed into my pictures: not the vivid contrast of the moment, but perceived gravity now became the aesthetic means of my photography.’