Legitimate Aspects of Daily Life (Legitime Aspekte des Alltags). 2002
"Legitimate Aspects of Daily Life." Those are: justifiable opinions. It's always nice to see that someone doesn't just have opinions, but is also wiling to communicate them – things of that ilk are no longer to be expected as a matter of course in today's art. Bertram Kober's ability to allow social conditions to speak from recorded interiors and accumulations of things, without denouncing their – absent – inhabitants, users, and arrangers, became impressively apparent in his older series "Cultera/Culpoch". Recently, he has patiently collected pictures again, that offered themselves to him. They now beat us on the head: death and devotionals, traffic and pollution, ugliness and order are captured in quiet, beautiful pictures. (Otherwise you would hardly be able to look at what they show and what they point at.) The significance of the trivial – whether in a busy picture or through the structure of the picture – it always speaks to us, only: What does it mean to us – the beautiful New World? Continue? Higher and higher, faster and faster, further and further? Or memento mori? Costs of still so-called progress, where are we going then, are we going at all? Kober's critique is quiet, friendly, subtle, even ironic. Exactly that gives them their power and lasting effect. The devil's in the details.
Excerpt from the opening speech at the exhibition „Bertram Kober“ in the Fotomuseum Leipzig on 19 March 2004
Is it your intention to make provocative art?
B.K. No. That wouldn't correspond to my character. I rather look for equilibrium, a supportive discussion. But I can't help recording my own perceptions with my camera. Later, I am able to handle the created material with a target in mind. In the course of my work, I have adjusted to becoming attuned to what is going on around me and learned how to observe what chance suggests to me. This is how I find the pictures that I can use to create an effect.
C.D.H. So you consciously deal with the provocation of chance?
B.K. Absolutely. However, you can't repeat chance. But it will certainly happen another ... I work in such a way that I first collect pictures, also in the sense that I search and select before the actual picture is taken, and then I act when an image "jumps out at me," and convinces me. Later, the directly created pictures end up in an artistic context after exhaustive checks and consideration. The only pictures that are accepted are the ones that not only with regard to content, but also qualitatively withstand my critique as individual pictures.
C.D.H. But you like to work in Series?
B.K. Yes. That way one photograph affects the other. The diverse images acquire an expanded moment of their statements in a series. The series opens up the possibility that what I intended can be better transported. However, never in an illustrative sense.
C.D.H. There seems to be the demand behind the current selection to force a realistic look at oneself and the world.
B.K. You can certainly see it like that. Problems don't get bigger just because you're looking at them carefully. They also don't disappear when you look away. On the contrary, they become real. However, every one of the photographs has different levels of feeling. Beside the pictorial exclamation, sometimes like an attack, there are also moments of romance, of optimism and of voyeurism. I try to resolve everything relativizing in the precise form of the picture.
C.D.H. It seems there is a very personal relationship to car accidents that has played a recurring role in your work for the last few years.
B.K. I had an accident in which I was injured. That event left behind some deep effects and changed my thoughts about more and more rapid advances. Having experienced a break, sensitizes you. Also for the symbolism of apparently unchecked progress.
C.D.H. Am I wrong, or is there also the demand to create sensuous spaces in the middle of our rushed daily lives?
B.K. I think that it is very complex. I capture excerpts of stopped time with everything that seems important to me. Surely, there are also free spaces there, but just as miserable, absurd, questionable, and admittedly, somehow provocative.
Aspekte - Gespraech zwischen der Kunsthistorikerin Christine Dorothea Hoelzig und Bertram Kober In: Legitime Aspekte des Alltags. Verlag Faber & Faber. 2002. Page 39