Portrait of an Artist as an Old Man
Shortlist Wellcome Photography Prize (Wellcome Trust) 2020
This series tells the life of Fritz Dressler (1937-2020), a landscape and architectural photographer who suffered from Alzheimer’s for several years. He also was formerly Professor of Photography and »Moving Images« at the University of the Arts in Bremen. We met on the occasion of a photofestival that took place in the artist village of Worpswede in Northern Germany, where Fritz resided for more than 40 years. He was known for his influential and creative personality that - despite his dementia - had left him a charming and deeply expressive character when I got to know him in 2016. Fritz became my headstrong longterm-documentary’s subject. He found immense pleasure and pride in himself by falling back on taking pictures himself. It had a meaning-giving quality for him then. When he was no longer able to call his illness by its name, he sometimes resignedly acknowledged, »Actually, I don’t know anything anymore.« But his self-awareness – as someone who sees himself as an artist and thus preserves his presence – was still alive until his death: »I am not dead, I’m still walking!«
In my work I am completely committed to the emotional reality of my charismatic protagonist: his intensity, vulnerability and resilience define the portraits of his soul.