The current avalanche of editorial redesigns is testament to the potential power of news photography. These images have the ability to lurk in our subconscious for many years, shaping the way we perceive and remember things, while triggering a rich series of associations.
Berlin-based artist Isa Genzken’s work draws on the way in which design, media and advertising impacts on our existence. Between 1989 and 1991, she culled some 121 photographs from Germany’s weekly news magazine Der Spiegel, and these have been put together for an exhibition at The Photographers’ Gallery in London. The diminutive black and white photographs, still bearing the scars of being cut out of the magazine by scissors, are mounted in simple clip frames and hung in a random,
mesmerising sequence, in a thin strip around the room.
Some of the images, such as a Trabant dumped in a skip, straightforwardly encapsulate this poignant historical moment, but others work more imperceptibly. Without captions, the images are dependant on their own qualities or our memories for their impact – but peering at these small images leaves an indelible and haunting impression.
Isa Genzken: Der Spiegel 1989 – 1991 runs from 7 October to 20 November at The Photographers’ Gallery, 5 Great Newport Street, London WC2.