Joachim Schmid began his career in the early 1980s as a freelance critic and the publisher of Fotokritik, an iconoclastic and original contribution to West German photography. In the pages of Fotokritik and in his regular articles and lectures for other venues, Schmid argued articulately and at times vehemently against prevailing, predominantly conservative notions of “art photography” and in favour of a broad, encompassing critique of photography as a form of cultural practice.
After ceasing publication of Fotokritik in 1987, Schmid focused on his own art production, based primarily on found photography and public image sources. Living near one of the largest flea markets in Berlin, he had already amassed a rich, deep, and varied collection of vernacular photography which formed the raw material for many of the works included in this publication.
Schmid’s use of extended series reflects his concern with photography as an encompassing, culturally dispersed and ubiquitous social and aesthetic discourse that runs throughout the public and private spheres of modern life. Yet the fundamental richness of Schmid’s photographic raw material – along with the sardonic wit he so often displays – derails any attempt to read his work as pure anthropology or social science. His artistic preoccupations reflect a close observation of photographic history and a fascination with photographic images themselves in all their alternately bizarre and conventionalized aspects.