"über allen wipfeln ist ruh'"

Robert F. Hammerstiel’s images seem very familiar to us, even if we get the impression that they owe their existence to a rather cursory glance or an interest in little regarded everyday phenomena. Hammerstiel’s photographic research aims at phenomena underlying the commonplace, that is, of the visual scenarios and their surrogates for happiness and privacy surrogates that we are just as accustomed to as the junkie to the drug. We are, however, seldom unaware of the fact they are the projections of our desires and emotions. One could see the thematically classified work groups as descriptive of social conditioning and a desire for protected intimacy.

Assuming that the human being in the world of images and objects is an unconscious actor rather than a confident director, Hammerstiel questions the individual’s capacity to still lend symbolic power to his identity through the things around him. As a rule he eliminates the human being and thus creates a mise en scene still life of the everyday in which the viewer detects his own conditions. For instance, as part of securing human traces in nature and capturing the private mise en scene of nature in the homes and at the place of work, Hammerstiel portrayed people at lunch and investigated seductive role-clichés. Photography’s very oscillation between falsehood and truth allows him to make the familiar seem alien, and the alien familiar.

Bernd Schulz, Saarbrücken 1998