Copyright Andreas Oetker-Kast 2008 self-published
Andreas Oetker-Kast embarked on what I think is a difficult journey, even thought he did not have to venture too far to find his subject, to try to investigate the essence of those who work as found within the boundaries of their workplace. In doing so, he was granted access to a small number of small to medium manufacturing factories in Germany.
His photographic style is that of the documentary photographer, making the best of the “natural” light found within these work places. Perhaps due to the lack of available lighting without the use of flash, the resulting photographs appear in low contrast and somewhat dull and flat, perhaps as a simile to the work being depicted.
Most of his subjects are standing adjacent to their work station, occasionally captured while performing the work that they need to complete. The adjacent equipment hints at what work might occur. The surrounding work environment appears cluttered with artifacts of their trade, with personal photographs attached to boards and equipment as talismans for a different life.
Of particular interest to me is the double-page spread (below) that on one side appears two individuals wearing business suits who probably are the management of a factor and in the facing page are two individuals in blue work clothes engaged in the physical work of a factory. Both photographs reveal types of worker, the men in the business suits are mysterious as to what work they actually perform while the work that is being performed by those in the work clothes is seemingly more apparent. To me, perhaps due to the lighting, the two men in the business suits appear a lot more menacing.
There are not any captions or pagation within the book, but somewhat apparent as to the type of work that Oetker-Kast subjects are working on, whether a machine shop or perhaps bicycle repairs. Nevertheless, work and manpower is still an elusive and mysterious defined subject, although interestingly investigated by Oetker-Kast.
As a book object, the hard cover casebound book is printed and nicely bound in Germany, with the texts provided in both English and Deutsch (German). The sewn binding does allow the book ample readability. The interior pages are a nice weight matte paper, but due to photographing in natural and low lighting employed by Oetker-Kast, the printing even further reduces the contrast of the photographs, adding to the gloominess of his subject.
By Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook