Michael Kerstgens and ‘positive triviality’.
Born in 1950 in Llanelli, Wales, Michael Kerstgens has lived in Germany since his teenage years. He crowned his studies of photography at the University of Essen with a project “The Life of Jews in Germany” which made him stand out.
At first he became a freelance photographer for national and international publishing houses and companies. After many trips as a reporter, he became professor for “documentary photography” at the Hochschule Darmstadt. He now lives in Oberhausen.
Influenced by his Jewish culture, he defends it and illustrates it in documentary photos of exemplary quality. There is emotion in them but without the slightest pathos. His photographs often contain fabulous and tormented reliefs of the lives of various groups in Germany, the United Kingdom and the former USSR, among others.
The photographs are perfectly structured and are there to remove the viewer from any propensity for indifference. Rather than radical minimalism, the artist prefers the capture of the world in all its states offered in black and white to create a particular echo.
The pale peri-urban existence, the boredom of the countryside, the banality are transformed to the point of creating a “trivial spiritual” capable of generating deep emotions. This is why Baudelaire’s expression “positive triviality” is perfectly suited to such an approach.