"Recently released was 'Irgendwo' – translated as 'Somewhere' or 'Anywhere' – photographs of small German provincial towns. Carefully sequenced and grouped, the portraits, landscapes, architectural details of the book present, as Schmidt states, a portrait of our subjective loss of 'home as a place with identity'." (Shane Lavalette)
"Given the dominance of the the Becher students (Gursky, Ruff, Struth, et al) in the art markets in recent years, it would be easy for collectors to come to the conclusion that everything interesting in German photo-graphy was and is emanating from Dusseldorf. The reality is far more complex than a monolithic movement would allow. This book is an example of some of the excellent work coming from a group of photo-graphers who have been working in and around Berlin/Essen for decades, with loose ties to Lewis Baltz and Paul Graham.
In contrast to a search for single individual image, Sch.works in serial format, gathering together sequences of images that together provide a more nuanced view of a subject (just like the Robert Adams book we reviewed last week). It is not so much that these groups tell a deeper or more linear narrative or story, it is that the relationships between a group of fragments or moments can broaden our understanding of the overall realities and rhythms buried underneath the surface.
In this particular book (and Sch. has made several), the photographer has spent time in small provincial towns, capturing a mix of intimate landscapes, views of both traditional and modern suburban buildings, portraits of the inhabitants (primarily young people), and miscellaneous fragments (windows, walls, shopping carts, and loading docks). The title of the book can be translated as "somewhere" or "anywhere", and the pictures together portray a dismal monotony of vague places lacking identifiable details. In the interview, Sch. alludes to the "loss of home as a place with identity", and there is certainly a cheerless melancholy that pervades the whole series of pictures.
And yet, this chronicle of German non-places is somehow surprisingly powerful and evocative. The spectrum of greys in this book have a rich, tactile quality, with a less than perfect sharpness that makes them softer; these "colors" help create the overall mood of the book. It is however the sequencing that seems most important in the end. It is the juxtaposition of a blank concrete wall, next to a teenage woman's face, next to a less than beautiful modern house, next to an image of a supermarket parking lot, next to an ornate architectural detail, next to a closed window that bring together all the pieces of this life into a subtle and complex whole." (source, http://dlkcollection.blogspot.de/2009/05/book-michael-schmidt-irgendwo.html)
"Irgendwie ist ein Irgendwo immer wie ein Nirgendwo.
Michael SCHMIDT gehört zu den wichtigsten deutschen Fotografen, jedenfalls sieht man das im Ausland so beziehungsweise im Museum of Modern Art, New York, wo SCHMIDT als erster lebender deutscher Fotograf eine Einzelausstellung ausgerichtet bekam.
Die Bildserie 'Irgendwo' ist Ergebnis einer Reihe von Reisen, die SCHMIDT gemeinsam mit seiner Frau im Wohnwagen unternommen hat, um der deutschen Provinz ein gültiges Antlitz abzutrotzen.
In einer eindrucksvollen Serie vereint er neben romantischen Ecken, die provinztypischen Unorte wie Parkplätze, Supermärkte, Neubausiedlungen.
Das Buch 'Irgendwo' darf sich rühmen, eines der ganz konsequenten Künstlerbücher des Fotografen Michael SCHMIDT zu sein (...)" (Verlagstext)