FACadE
2013-2022

     
Concept:   Short version:
     
    - Photographs of people and animals on farms.
    - Farms whose cowshed facades look like abstract faces.
    - In the German-Dutch border area: the district of Borken on the German side and the Achterhoek on the Dutch side.
     
    - 100 photos: 50 photos of farms on the German side, 50 photos of farms on the Dutch side.
    - Photomontage: Photos are composed of picture elements that were taken at different times but always from the same point and then put together on the computer.
     
    - Highlighting an original aspect of regional architecture.
    - Document about disappearing regional architecture, changes in agriculture and similarities and differences in culture and construction between Germany and the Netherlands using the example of farms in the border region.
     
     
    Long version:
     
    The district of Borken in the western region of Münster where I grew up, located in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and on the border with the Netherlands, is characterized by intensive agriculture. Consequently, there are many farms there, and in some of them the arrangement of windows and doors in the facade of the main building facing the courtyard strongly resembles an abstract face with eyes, nose and mouth wide open. The same can be said about the Achterhoek in the province of Gelderland on the Dutch side. On both sides, however, there are also subtle differences in the design of the buildings.
     
    Buildings in which you think you can see faces can probably be found anywhere in the world. This type of farmhouse can also be found not only in the German-Dutch border area, but also in other parts of Germany and the Netherlands, in Northern Europe and North America. In the German-Dutch border area, however, it is particularly common. And, it's not just cowsheds where I've seen that face. I've also seen it at mills, distilleries or fishermen's houses.
     
    What characterizes the rural architecture of the western region of Münster are the farms built in red brick with door and window frames made of beige sandstone in the living area and green-painted wooden panels of the cowshed facade dominating the courtyard and other farm buildings.
     
    These buildings were erected between the late 19th century and the 1960s, or many existing buildings were converted to this type.
     
    The facade with the "face" is the rear side of the building, where the animals are housed below and the hay is stored above. The people live in the front part and there is also the official entrance to the building, mostly on the side. However, the rear part with the face faces the courtyard, around which the other farm buildings (stables, barns, halls, etc.) are also located. The cowshed facade is then usually what catches the eye the most.
     
     
    Agriculture has undergone enormous changes over the course of the 20th century: from the millennia-old work with plows and draft animals to tractors. From the extended family with maids and servants to a one-person operation. From the all-encompassing program with large and small livestock, grain, fruit and vegetables to specialization and monoculture. Farms that are growing and those that can no longer keep up.
     
    These photos show some of that. In the photos you can see farms with families with three or more children, but also farms where only one or two people live without successors.
     
    You can see how the buildings were adapted to the needs. It was built on top of it, added on or rebuilt. Doors and windows were moved, reduced, enlarged or bricked up. In some facades you can see different types of brick. The barn where the cows used to stand is now a living area, a workshop, a farm shop or a café.
     
    There are photos of buildings in their original condition, with cows still in the barn, as monuments under monument protection, as construction sites, abandoned and neglected or in the process of being demolished.
     
     
    At the beginning of the project, in July 2013, I concentrated solely on the architecture and the main building. Without people, at most with animals. In total, I photographed almost 90 buildings in this way and sorted out most of them later.
     
    In a second phase, starting in September 2014, I asked the people living there for the first time whether they would participate and then increasingly made this a condition. They pose in front of the camera and maintain eye contact with the viewer. The body is always depicted in its entirety and is never cut off or on from the edge of the image. They stand or sit in front of the building, sometimes hold a cat in their arms or a cow on a leash, but they are never really busy with something that would demand their full attention or physical effort at that moment.
     
    The third phase begins at the beginning of September 2016 with a photo of a farm where a cow is being washed for an action and two out of three of the people involved are not looking at the camera because they are concentrating on the cow. From then on, I tried to give the people taking part more tasks in order to breathe more activity and authenticity into the picture, to give it an overarching theme if possible and to distribute the people in the picture in the sense of a varied, narrative composition.
     
    Caution! A lot of value was placed on harping on clich├ęs typical of the region such as wooden shoes, cycling, pancakes, campers (NL), marksmen's festival (DE), corso wagons (NL), Catholicism (DE) and so on and so forth.