dirk königsfeld


Tracking Down the Detective

At night, when everyone is asleep, Dirk Königsfeld roams through cities, keeping a close look-out for
motifs for his pictures and finding them in the achievements of civilization. He first focuses his attention on those conspicuous sources of light which catch his eye: bright lights for illuminating streets, façades, or parks; stark fluorescent lights on warehouses; milky lamps in deserted interiors, their dim glow spilling outside; the gleaming lights of train stations and parking lots which light up the surrounding buildings; and floodlights temporarily
set up for making a movie or unloading a truck.

It is only in the city that artificial illumination and the characteristic elements of urban aesthetics meet. It is the synthesis of the two for which Königsfeld is searching. The artist places his tripod at these locations and takes his pictures without using additional lighting or a flash. Even if Königsfeld’s intention is to take pictures and present the
situations as »real« as possible, the artist is nonetheless everything but a documentary photographer in capturing night-time architectural scenes in such a matter-of-fact way. Königsfeld is a collector of typologies – charged by the atmosphere
of the city and absorbed by the lively environment
of city-dwellers.
Königfeld’s pictures make a lasting impression on the viewer. They convey a new angle on everyday impressions, such as those one gains when walking home in the dark or strolling through a foreign city at night. Indeed, once viewers have roamed these pictures with their eyes, they will then move through the streets at night seeing the city through Königsfeld’s own eyes, and will be eager to discover the situations and strange atmospheres the pictures depict and which they wouldn’t have noticed before.
The appeal and power of attraction which these night-time photographs exert lie in the tension between reality as understood by the viewers and the great degree of artificiality deliberately sought by the artist. The photographed location may be checked out because it is named in the title of the picture – its identity is thus not covered up or mystified, yet it nonetheless becomes »staged« through the framing of the picture, its composition, and striking colors, even if the latent unreality of the picture has not been artificially created. Viewers would hardly feel the same fascination if they actually went to the location. That is because viewers – through their perception that has been conditioned by images from the media – begin to search for the story beneath the surface of the picture as soon as they begin to take it in. Will the peaceful atmosphere be disrupted any second by some horrible, unforeseen event? Is that a culprit hiding around the corner of the building? Is that a dead body lying there in the bushes? The tension radiating from our rather banal reality that is frozen in the photograph can only seldom be transported to the truly banal location of
the picture.
The story as such is unimportant for the artist Dirk Königsfeld. He is not thinking of a story when he is taking pictures. But he is aware that narratives almost involuntarily evolve when viewing his photographs. Ideally, he would like to open up a space for
viewers – a space whose dimensions are clearly defined and one in which viewers could then move about as they so choose. The boundaries between the real, physical space and the virtual, imaginary one which are »entered« are thus in continual flux.

Königsfeld himself moves along the tracks of civilization to examine patterns of living and situations in an urban environment. The architecture which he documents during this process is not intended to be grandiose; the buildings are not attraction sights.
What is depicted is functional architecture found in
any big city.
It is important for Königsfeld to maintain a sense of distance from his photographs. His intention is not to categorize or criticize, nor does he wish to imagine a person living within the walls of an apartment building or working behind a glass façade. He also does not wish to plumb the depths of a particular person’s feelings. What he would like is to respectfully convey that which human beings – even if they are consistently absent from his photographs – have created.
It almost seems as though Königsfeld would like to draw the attention of viewers to the oft unnoticed details of their urban environment via the intense beauty of his pictures, their classic arrangement, and their aesthetic composition – as though he would like to challenge viewers to indeed look at the world in a different light. At any rate, Königsfeld wants to get viewers involved in a discussion about light in the city: about the brightness which makes a city a city in the first place; about the energy this brightness exudes and evokes; about the nighttime which becomes daytime through this artificial illumination; about the absence of darkness.
The photography detective’s spectrum is urban life in all its various facets. The traces of civilization which Königfeld comes across – cars, trees, shrubs,
graffiti – are leitmotifs in his photographs whose lowest common denominator is the artificial light during the night as it blends with the most diverse forms of architecture. Their greatest common aim is to come as close to reality as possible and to make subjective reality comprehensible through photography.

Uta Grosenick