Pictures made between 1984-1987.
The aim of the classical portrait photographer was to draw a, preferably, accurate picture of the person depicted. This included the photographer controlled overall impression of the person posture, clothing. gestures, facial expression and also the environment as a social indicator of the significance of the person whose portrait was taken.
All of these characteristics arc fulfilled by Harald Falkenhagen's self enactments. However this is only at first sight. Clothing, gestures, attributes and a carefully chosen background can be found in all works. In diametrical opposition to traditional portrait photography, however, they do not lead to a unique characterisation, to the identifiction of the person, but to something clearly contrary. It is by cunning that an author, who is thoroughly familiar with the language of the medium, is using the conventional vocabulary and the traditional grammar here in order to create a condition which is the opposite of designation. Wait and see whether sense will present itself appears to me to be the typical attitude behind all these enactments.
This theatrical enactment of insignificance is not realised as an arrogant gesture, a complacent refusal. It can rather be described as a wary consolidation of certain, unspeakable moods. The sharp cast shadow, artificially produced by a bright spotlight and accentuatedly used, appears in ambivalent function. Its effect is based on both the creation of an enigma and on elucidation; it appears, so to speak, in parallel with reality and has a similar relationship with it as the photograph. It accompanies reality without coinciding with it. Falkenhagen places himself into this stress field between bright and dark. The more clearly something is shown, the more we become attracted to that which is hidden behind the showing. We cannot recognise exactly what actually is, or what it is supposed to mean. Pencils of light and shadows as symbols for showing and hiding determine the range of these enactments. It is in a stress field so characteristic of this form where classical portrait photography's resolution takes place. The establishment of identity is replaced by a significant perception which is not aiming at some certain result, but more at a process in which subject and object are variable quantities which, time and again, try to re sense their contours.
Ulrich Bischoff