In 1933 National Socialist students burned around 30,000 books on the former Opernplatz in the middle of Berlin: political literature, scientific books, novels and poems, even children's books. The list of authors includes well-known names, but also those who have since disappeared from cultural memory.
In her series 'Burned Books' (2019–2021), Annette Kelm depicts a selection of those books that were ostracised as 'un-German' from 1933 onwards.
Kelm's photographs follow a decidedly factual aesthetic and show selected books–all of them are first editions–individually as flat objects, photographed from the front against a neutral background. Reproduced in the style of classic object photography, they appear to have been freed from space and time. This is precisely what updates them and overcomes the historical distance. Detached from history, political imagery, the aesthetics of modernity, and the socially critical impetus emerge concisely. And ultimately, it is this precise photographic view to the book and its design that makes us think again about the possibilities of representing history and dealing with the Nazi era.
70 photographic works from this series will be on view at the Meyer Kainer Gallery. A detailed text by Vanessa Joan Müller will accompany the exhibition.
Press release courtesy MEYER KAINER.