Based on five (art)historical group picture formations – table still lifes, battle depictions, citizens' representation, demonstrations and dramaturgy in numbers – the book explores the traditions and new inventions of group photography through a staggering 1,800 photographs. From the circle to the column, from the crowd to the masses or from the family to Facebook: the focus of the depiction is always the individual within the group.
The 'SOOOOOOOOOOOOO viele!' book features photographs of groups somewhere in between depictions of class, club life and art discourse – and manages to create a finely woven connection from the photo history of the 19th century to contemporary photo art.
Procession – work force – chorus – parade – ensemble – formation – association – harem – jurt – committee – legion – squad – rearguard – orchestra – party – pack – school – team – union – society – queue – guild . . . language holds an endless array of words for all sorts of groups and those groups have been documented in photography since 1845.
One particular tradition is club photography with its varied arrangements and objects of embellishment, let alone the desire to cultivate one's image and the depiction of hierarchies. Another example is the family celebration where people get together and engage in an exchange of one sort or another.
In this case, the 'group picture' has the character of a keepsake, a visual amplifier of blood ties and relationships. The group picture also retains its importance when it comes to sports, even though the degree of seriousness has since been softened, which also goes for the photographic depiction of classes in schools – but the almost ritualistic self-assertion and its function as an axis of social coherence remain evident and real as ever.
There had not been a stand-alone publication on the subject of 'Group photography' to date and the book closes the gap in a manner that is both entertaining and informative. The material that travelling photographers, photography studios, rural photographers or photography artist have gathered and produced during club events, factory meetings, wedding parties, mass conferences, human chains, demonstration parades is immense and is given the appropriate space and context to be relished.
Whether the 'Group photograph' is a staged product by the photographer or whether it is an aftermath of a familiar solidarity and internal social structures, it is subject to photo-historic discussions and evaluations. The question whether the aspiration for group dynamics has been growing stronger in recent times (read: Social Media) is one that is of particular interest, now that the individual seems to have lost some of its esprit and relevance due to team spirit, swarm intelligence and human networks.
Fritz Franz Vogel (* 1957), Dr. Phil. MA works in culture and education studies, has been a publisher and curator since 1992 in text, photography and books and lives in Wädenswil, Switzerland (www.fritzfranzvogel.ch).
The book accompanies the 'SOOOOOOOOOOOO viele!!!' exhibition, group photographs since 1845” in the MEWO Kunsthall Memmingen, from the 5th of February to the 5th of August 2012. www.memmingen.de/kunsthalle.html
GROUPPHOTOGRAPHY COMPETITION – Edition Lammerhuber and the MEWO Kunsthalle launched a photography competition. The subject: Group Photography. For more information click on www.facebook.com/gruppenfotografie
Fritz Franz Vogel
30 x 31 cm
396 Pages, many fold-out pages
Cut Flush Binding