Z cyklu „Camera Catacumba”

Jochen Dietrich


Niemcy – Deutschland

*1965 in Siegen
- studies of Fine Arts, German language and literature, educational science at Universities of Münster, Siegen, Aveiro and Lisbon; Dr.phil. In Educational Sciences at Siegen University
- 2000-2003 Head of Photographic Collection at Museu da Imagem em Movimento, Leiria (P)
- 2001-2003 Professor adjunto at Instituto Politécnico de Coimbra (P), teaching theory and practice of photography
- 2004 – 2014 Fine Arts Teacher at secondary schools at Plettenberg, Bendorf/Rhein and Hilchenbach
- since 2014 Headmaster at Gymnasium Stift Keppel secondary school, Hilchenbach


one man shows (selection)

98 Cine-teatros de Portugal. Museu da Imagem em Movimento, Leiria, Portugal (catalogue); Tour:

Galeria de Arte do IPJ, Museu Regional, Faro; Cine-teatro Pax Julia, Beja ; Galeria Municipal e Encontro de Cinema

AVANCA´98, Estarreja, Câmara Municipal, Évora; Casa das Artes, Centro Português de Fotografia, Porto;

Museu das Comunicações, Lisboa

99 Cine-teatros de Portugal , Städt. Galerie Haus Seel, Siegen

Torre dos Relógios. Casa das Artes Torreão, Porto Alegre, Br

02 Jochen Dietrich. Fotografia. Galeria arquivo, Leiria

Vom Ansehen der Dinge. Museum of the City of Iserlohn, Iserlohn

03 Medidas de Segurança Fotogaleria ImagoLucis, Porto (catalogue)

04 Viagens na terra deles. Ateliê da Imagem, Rio de Janeiro (catalogue)

Jochen Dietrich, Fotografie. Galerie Allehof, Neuenrade

05 Die Wunderbaren Städte. IHK-Galerie and galeria art&living, Siegen

06 A Camera Obscura visitável, Museu da Imagem em Movimento, Leiria und, Centro Cultural de Belém, Lisboa,


07 As Cidades Maravilhosas. Atelié da Imagem, Festival FotoRio, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

11 Nora. Eine Idylle. Galerie Associação a9)))), Leiria, Portugal

16 Reisen im Land der Anderen. Kreuztal Kulturbahnhof

Camera Catacumba. Siegerlandmuseum und ASK Siegen

group shows (selection)

97 Filmland Portugal. Deutsches Filmmuseum Frankfurt, double show with Wim Wenders

98 Accrochage des artistes du 4ieme programm; Pépinières européennes pour jeunes artistes, Paris

01 Pinhole Photograph. Adirondack Community College Gallery. NY, USA

09 Blicke. Von Außen. Galerie Gotisches Haus, Berlin-Spandau

10 Goalgetting. (catalogue) Galerie des Winchester Mansion Hotel, Kapstadt (SA), Krönchencenter Siegen;

AVANCA Festival de Cinema, Estarreja (P)

12 Body and Bodies, Transgressions and Narratives/ Corpo e Corpos, Transgressões e Narrativas.

Museu da Imagem em Movimento, Leiria, Portugal

14 Poetics of Light. New Mexico History Museum, Santa Fé, USA

21 Analog. Fotoedition Fach Kunst der Universität Koblenz-Landau

books and articles (selection)

Cine-Teatros de Portugal. Fotografien von Joxchen Dietrich,Texte von Daland Segler, José Manuel Fernandes

und Jochen Dietrich. Leiria, Ed. Museu da Imagem 1998

Camera obscura. In: Porto Arte, Revista do Instituto de Artes da UFRGS, Porto Alegre, 2/99

Camera obscura. Convidando o mundo a falar. In: Jobim e Souza, Solange (Org.): Mosäico - Subjetividade, Imagem e

Construção de Conhecimento; Rio de Janeiro, Ed. Rios ambiciosos 2000

Vom Ansehen der Dinge - Die Camera Obscura als Medium in der Lerntätigkeit. Oberhausen, Athena 2001 (=

Dissertation, Universität Siegen 2000)

Camera Catacumba. In: Ana Angelica Costa (Hr.) Possibilidades da Camera Obscura. Rio de Janeiro 2015

Camera Catacumba - Images from the other side

Jochen Dietrich

Camera Obscura” or „Pinhole Camera”? It is undisputed that this instrument of image production is a combination of two basic elements: dark chamber and small opening. The name Camera Obscura only emphasizes the first part, the dark chamber, and leaves the question unanswered as to whether or not a lens, i.e. an element for refracting light, is attached to the small opening. The internationally more common term „pinhole”, like the „sténope” used in the French-speaking world, such as „diffraction” and „pinhole camera” photography, draws our attention to the other part of the apparatus and uses the pinhole as a difference maker as opposed to the glass lens.

In terms of its use since the 17th century, the camera obscura is a box fitted with glass lenses. On the way to photography we are still missing a third thing: the chemical recording of the image, the fixation of the image. However, the pinhole camera is already marginalized in the early phase of the history of discovery (for example with Porta) - as cumbersome, unsuitable, overall inadequate. When photography was invented in 1839, nobody used pinhole cameras. It was not until the considerable increase in the light sensitivity of photographic plates around 1880 that it was even possible to produce photographs using these „defective” devices - and as soon as (new) objectivity prevailed in the aesthetic discourse, that short pinhole hype was all over again. If one applies strict differentiation criteria and defines the lensless, the pinhole camera as the „other” medium, then one has to distinguish it not only from the history of the invention of photography, but even from the history of all the image producing media ever since the 17th century. Nobody used pinhole cameras for image production, the dark chamber always was equipped with glass lenses. With all the more right then the pinhole camera could be viewed as a „new” medium.

Tombs like the one shown above are, in summary, pinhole cameras. Dark room, limited opening, everything is there. And we know that there is an image inside, even if it was just a blurred one. But it is there, even without a photographer coming by. Everyone can decide for themselves whether the opening was necessary for smelly gases evaporating a decomposing body - or for the soul, giving way to paradise. But it is undisputed that the opening acts as a pinhole projecting the world of the living into that of the dead.

The Portuguese Graveyards Tour 2013

Although the images in this series can certainly be considered just for their pictorialistic qualities, they are - as in most of my earlier works - primarily concerned with the ways and acts of photographic image making. The pictures were produced during a trip through central and southern Portugal in the week before All Saints' Day in 2013. Occupied with a simple construction made of cardboard, aluminum foil and black cotton fabric, I visited several graveyards and transformed ossaries and graves (that were temporarily not occupied) in pinhole cameras. The projection of the landscape or cityskape into the interior of the rectangular chamber was recorded with a standard digital camera. I placed that in the grave site in the wall with the self-timer activated, then closed the chamber with the „perforated” cardboard cover and counted the seconds.

What you see in the picctures are landscapes of the dead. I don't need to talk about the metaphorical richness of this process technically so simple, crude and rudimentary. I didn't change anything else on site. Sometimes there were objects in these caverns: empty bottles of chlorine cleaner, paper flowers, broken marble tablets, candles. I left them where i found them, remnants of life and death, souvenirs of the business of commemorating the dead. And business there was a lot, in the Alentejo and Algarve cemeteries in the week leading up to All Saints Day. The Portuguese live with their dead; many of the graves have windows, nowadays. People keep these „apartments” nice and clean, renew wreaths and containers of plastic flowers, replace the tattered doilies and curtains with new ones. The glass panes in front of the coffins are cleaned, the gravestones are brushed. In between you stretch your back, smoke a cigarette, have a chat, and help yourself from the picnic basket. Nowhere else in the world have I seen so many graves standing open, so many coffins at arm's length in front of my eyes, and by no means all of them safe and locked. And nowhere did I see people who seemed less concerned, less worried than here, in these portuguese graveyards. Nobody noticed my strange activities anyway. I was just another busy person in a cemetery buzzing with vitality.

All the hustle and bustle is not reflected in the pictures, the exposure time prevents that. The world of the living lies before us quietly and empty when you look at it.