Michael Kerstgens (*1960), winner of several awards, has been working with photography since his student days in the 1980s. Since 2007 he has been a professor at the University of Applied Sciences Darmstadt. He lives with his family in Oberhausen/Rheinland.
Publisher: Hartmann Books
Exhibition: Weltkulturerbe Völklinger Hütte, 25. April – 28. November 2021
In 1986, the decade was halfway over. In April, the reactor in Chernobyl melted down, the Cold War was coming to an end, Helmut Kohl was chancellor, AIDS was just being perceived as a pandemic threat in Germany, and the affluent society of the Federal Republic of Germany was beginning to view consumption as a leisure activity.
That year, Michael Kerstgens, then a student at the Gesamthochschule Essen (formerly the Folkwangschule), received a scholarship with the assignment to take a photographic look at the subject of leisure. He used it to observe West Germans engaging in their favorite leisure activities, including sports, fitness, soccer, partying, outdoor swimming, tennis, playing golf (and miniature golf), driving Golfs (and Opels), and shopping.
In his essay, Klaus Honnef describes the 1980s as the favorite decade of the West Germans. Compared to their compatriots in the German Democratic Republic, they were doing extremely well. While the GDR past has been the focus of many recent publications, this laconic documentary looks at the other side, precisely observing a relatively carefree West German society.
Book Specs: 21 × 27 cm // 176 pages with 97 illustrations // Texts by Klaus Honnef, Ralf Beil, Michael Kerstgens // Design by Michael Kerstgens and Jutta Herden // English, German // Hardcover with foil stamping // ISBN 978-3-96070-068-5. Available here.