Portrait of an Artist as an Old Man
"Past, Present, Future" (2017)
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. 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.
During the two years I photographed Fritz, he found immense pleasure and pride in falling back on taking pictures himself — it had a meaning-giving quality for him then.
Fritz never had intellectual inside into my actions and motifs, but he was always my emotional counterpart.
Walking With Fritz, 2017
Adding Fritz’s longing color images of his immediate surroundings, clouds, and above all the landscape he deeply loved - taken when walking with me or his partner - transforms Portrait of an Artist as an Old Man into some kind of collaborative narrative which it has been in so many ways:
©Fritz Dressler (2016-2018)
2020 Critical Mass Top 50, US mirja-maria-thiel
2020 Shortlist Wellcome Photography Prize (Wellcome Trust), UK
2020 Bronze (single, Portrait) Px3 Prix de la Photographie, Paris;
2019 Bronze (Editorial/Essay) Moskow International Photo Awards, Russia;
2019 "Remarkable Artwork" International Photo Awards Siena SIPA, Italy;
2019 Nominee Felix Schoeller Photo Award (Best Work by an Emerging Photographer), Germany;
2018 Silver (Portfolio) Tokyo International Foto Awards, TIFA, Japan