DIE BÜCHER | ANNETTE KELM
Eine Frau riest durch die Welt is the title of the novel by the Hungarian and German-speaking writer Maria Leitner, who went down in history for being one of the first women to report undercover and fight against Nazism through her writings. This book was part of the list of books that the German National Socialist Party made prohibited starting from the 10th of May 1933. Annette Kelm portrait the book by Maria Leitner and, in doing so, it becomes part of the Die Bücher series which began in 2019 and ended in 2021: the series is composed of frontal photographs of the books banned by the National Socialist Party and which the artist recovers and puts together almost to build a memorial to this terrible event.
The cover of Maria Leitner is represented with its imperfections, the corners rounded by time and the cover cut in some places: the documentation created by Kelm wants on the one hand to restore the beauty of the book design of those years in which the influence of different artistic movements spills into every aspect of everyday life and at the same time wants to suggest a characterization of the object that becomes, together with the others, almost a character. Die Bücher, using a photograph that winks at the Bechers for the seriality and the assumption of a unique perspective repeated over the pictures, delicately presents a reflection on a difficult period in human history but with the intention of bringing a reactionary force to face the risks of our present.
These photographic trompe l’oeil (the artist always plays with photography and its status, trying to study its nature by deconstructing and recomposing it) test the gaze which tries to put together one world, then the next, arriving to bring back an image to these persecuted authors. The cover and its photograph are a new image in which the book is not presented for its content but as a monument, almost a sculpture, of a stance. The books, thanks to the precise and meticulous work of Annette Kelm, take on new life and are shouted to pierce the darkness that is advancing precipitously on our present. Eine Frau riest durch die Welt is the book we have to write
Die Bücher, 2019
Installation view, courtesy Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden
© Photo: Thomas Bruns (detail)