Books

A photograph of the book This soil we have created for ourselves
A photograph of the book This soil we have created for ourselves
A photograph of the book This soil we have created for ourselves
A photograph of the book This soil we have created for ourselves
A photograph of the book This soil we have created for ourselves
A photograph of the book This soil we have created for ourselves
A photograph of the book This soil we have created for ourselves
A photograph of the book This soil we have created for ourselves
A photograph of the book This soil we have created for ourselves
A photograph of the book This soil we have created for ourselves
A photograph of the book This soil we have created for ourselves
A photograph of the book This soil we have created for ourselves
A photograph of the book This soil we have created for ourselves
A photograph of the book This soil we have created for ourselves
A photograph of the book This soil we have created for ourselves
A photograph of the book This soil we have created for ourselves
A photograph of the book This soil we have created for ourselves
A photograph of the book This soil we have created for ourselves
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This soil we have created for ourselves
Kominek Books, 2021

Soft cover, thread stitching
76 Pages, 44 B/W Photographs, Tritone printing
21.6 x 29.3 cm

Editing by Jonas Feige and Misha Kominek
Design by Jonas Feige, Krispin Heé & Tim Wetter

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“History is an errant and pliant concept that haunts dreams and fevers the imaginations of the living. It refuses to be fixed, and in its continual motivation for disobedience, it compounds society’s motivations to relate to its recorded events, moments, and changes that have led to a tacit knowledge of the present. In this, history challenges our reliability as something impartial or bearable. In abandoning fixity, history presents an uncertainty more than it offers a solid foundation from which to draw rationality. We covet the narrative of history for our perception of its functions as a way of illuminating our beliefs, however poorly tendered.

Significant themes are redressed in history, and they reform institutions and cultural movements alike. These themes and stories of the past can be borrowed from, bent, and modified to assign a new script or character. The wary citizens of the present use these themes to illustrate and compel historical episodes into backing credentials and reference points for the propaganda of the now. As the noted theorist and historian Frederic Jameson has pointed out, a license to regard history and its moving components as fixed is to err on the side of incaution as a gesture of mutable conscience. As per Jameson, “Always Historicize!” is a crucial and significant response to the problem of history, the past, and its manipulations from the present period.

History at best is a condition that suggests reverberation and echo are its main currencies. There is a relatable notion to history and the past, but one of which can never be exacted by someone who did not experience it firsthand. These echoes and reverberations can be considered convenient when they fulfill a confirmation bias in political terms. In that same example, they can destroy rationality in favor of misread or a mythologizing that tends history as insoluble and its rubric supreme.

Jonas Feige’s THIS SOIL WE HAVE CREATED FOR OURSELVES suggests that history is an echo and perhaps also a shadow. The artist photographs his native Germany, his Heimat, with an alarmingly poetic sensibility. Underneath the beauty of Feige’s lens lurks a suggestion that history is incomplete, and the echoes of the past are, instead of diminishing, ringing louder. Though the artist uses a lyrical sensibility to discuss German history and its contemporary possibilities to be read as convenient propaganda, the artist also exhibits imagery outright of significance. The 1936 Berlin Olympic stadium with its cracked bell emblazoned with a swastika is one example in which the artist declares the reverberation both in literal and metaphoric terms. His use of shadow on the sides of German homes suggests an encroaching ideological tussle mirrored by the concept of the Volk who dwell between their walls. The emphasis on history and nationhood casts a long shadow over the present that Feige photographs, and he asks us to consider what potential the past has for Germany’s future. The book is a powerful reminder that history and its problematic discourses are never closed and that at any point, variations on its themes may present a disagreeable usage.” — Brad Feuerhelm

A photograph of the book Zenker
A photograph of the book Zenker
A photograph of the book Zenker
A photograph of the book Zenker
A photograph of the book Zenker
A photograph of the book Zenker
A photograph of the book Zenker
A photograph of the book Zenker
A photograph of the book Zenker
A photograph of the book Zenker
A photograph of the book Zenker
A photograph of the book Zenker
A photograph of the book Zenker
A photograph of the book Zenker
A photograph of the book Zenker
A photograph of the book Zenker
A photograph of the book Zenker
A photograph of the book Zenker
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Zenker
Edition Patrick Frey, 2021

Hardcover, 268 pages, 164 color images
26.6 × 18.5 cm
Design by Studio Krispin Heé

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In 1889, Georg August Zenker, a gardener and botanist from Leipzig, took charge of the Jaunde (present-day Yaoundé) research station in the German colony of Kamerun. After six years’ tenure, Zenker was summarily relieved of his duties. He was said to be leading a polygamous life at the station with several African women, some of whom had borne him children. Zenker left the country, only to return soon afterwards as a private citizen. He settled with his family (a woman from Dahomé and five children) in Bipindi, deep in the Kamerun jungle, where he built Bipindihof, a German colonial-style house and vast cocoa, rubber and banana plantations. The mainstay of his livelihood, however, consisted in collecting copious botanical and zoological specimens as well as ethnographic objects for German museums. Zenker’s thought and actions were, to be sure, heavily influenced by the colonial mindset. But on a number of occasions he clearly opposed the colonialist and militaristic practices of his superiors and other German countrymen. He died in 1922 and was buried on the grounds of his Bipindihof. Zenker’s descendants live widely dispersed in Cameroon and Europe today, but most of them still regard the now crumbling Bipindihof as the cradle of the family. Yana Wernicke and Jonas Feige traveled to the present-day Republic of Cameroon several times for this photographic essay in order to retrace Zenker’s life there and portray his descendants.