Dirk Alvermann, Keine Experimente (No experiments), 1961

Cover back and front

Cover back and front

 

There are certain photobooks that are truly a kind of ‘love at first sight’. Dirk Alvermann’s Keine Experimente – Bilder zum Grundgesetz (No experiments – picturing Basic Law) is one of them. It is the perfect synthesis of meaning and style, with its pure visual quality and humanistic message. This is Alvermann’s second book, published after Algerien – L’algérie (1960).

Keine Experimente opens with a full-page excerpt from the Yalta conference agreement of 1945 (which was further refined by the Potsdam agreement of August 1945). This is followed by a barrage of Alvermann’s full-bleed black and white images, taken between 1956 and 1961. He illustrates the first nine German Basic Laws, and ends this picture essay with the words: Es folgen die Artikel 10 bis 145 (to be followed by Articles 10 to 145). Sometimes the images are repeated in strong crops on black-bordered pages with one of the first nine German Basic Laws quoted next to it. This strong graphic approach sets the book apart from most other books designed around this time.
Looking through this intense book makes one realize that so many political situations and issues are still current today. It was published during an age of idealism, where a young, post-war generation began asking questions, and students the world over raised their voices with the united cry of anger and optimism. Alvermann’s book is one of these voices (he was 24 at this time). It seems almost absurd now, in the age of social media, where the loss of privacy and human rights is welcomed rather than questioned. This small-format hard cover book was designed by the photographer himself. The ‘cute’ humorous drawing on the back cover jars slightly, but may have been intended by Alvermann to create a kind of wolf in sheep’s clothing effect, and allow this hard-hitting book to pass censor.

A photobook treasure published in a print run of 10.000 copies in the German Democratic Republic.

Published by Eulenspiegel Verlag Berlin in 1961

Hard cover

14.2 x 20.1cm

136 pages

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