Claus Goedicke picks up a hammer. It’s the hammer from his personal toolbox, and yet it is just like the hammers thousands of people keep in their personal toolboxes. The lower third of the handle is painted red. Not all hammers have this attribute. But many do.
Since the sun isn’t shining, he will now photograph the hammer. He only takes photographs under diffuse daylight conditions. Not too bright; not too dark. No studio lamps. This isn’t advertising. The light should lightly flow over the objects. A shadow should be visible.
He works on the 5th floor. Opposite him are some narrow windows. A self-made ventilation pipe protrudes from one of them. There is a firewall on the right. It would be nice to have another one on the left. That would make it easier to calculate the shadow. As it is, the light falls rather unevenly. But that also serves to make things interesting.
In order to photograph the hammer he spreads sturdy cotton fabric over an approximately meter-high table. It is the same fabric that certain workmen’s tool bags are made of. The hammer lies on the fabric. He could also photograph everything on white, on black, or on gray. That would be an entirely different story. And he has arranged objects in an entirely different manner in the past. He has stripped plastic containers of their labels and photographed them against an isochromatic background. In this manner he has bestowed sculptural power on shampoo boottles. But the hammer and its ilk require something different. A stage. A dais. A pedestal. A plate decorated with floral designs for an apple. A heavily used rubber mat for the telephone receiver. He desires such a background because he wants no explanatory words. It is the background that comments.
He shoves the tripod-mounted plate camera right next to the table. He climbs up a ladder. The camera is now situated at not quite 180 degrees above the hammer. It is slightly tilted. A process camera would be placed directly above the object. But his aim is not two-dimensionality. He seeks to make the volume of the objects visible. When he photographed the paper tissue, the camera stood at quite an angle. Not so with the light bulb. Now, in the case of the hammer, it stands somewhere between these two angles. One likes to take a peek beneath things, as Claus Goedicke puts it.
He ducks his head under a focusing hood whose cloth was once black. He observes how his camera observes the hammer. He spies signs of use: on the metal head and on the wooden handle. At the bottom of the handle, the red paint has partially flaked off. The top displays an old nick of some sort. It’s odd that the word »hammer« gives rise to completely dissimilar associations, ranging from powerful to brutal, so unlike the slender, fragile household hammer. All sorts of thoughts can wrap themselves around this tool.
Claus Goedicke, photographer of objects, is interested in looking at things, not in preserving them. He doesn’t collect stamps, or transportation tickets, or theater tickets. He ate the apple after he photographed it, and the chocolate; he fried and and consumed the chicken leg, and the meat, and the herring; he returned the flute to the musician in the neighborhood; he uses the hammer to drive nails into the wall; used the dishcloth until it was worn out; threw it away and, logically, bought a new one. The shoes are long gone; they’ve been replaced by a new pair; the mirror broken and a new one in use; the tablets swallowed. The wedding rings don’t belong to Goedickes; they were given back to their owners. The lipstick ended up in hands of playing children.
His collection is made up of images, not objects. It does, however, break up the circular flow of things. It allows us to take a closer look at the things we hold in our hands on a daily basis. What we touch, pick up, feel and don’t feel, hold, and set aside. If we focus our attention on these photographs, they give us something in return: the certain knowledge that we can halt the rattle of life through the act of attention.