I could not believe how many friends, clients and enthusiasts were attending my exhibition „HALTUNG“. Nearly 1000 visitors saw a collection of my portrait works, students were drawing the pictures, a family from Angela Merkels hometown traveled to Berlin to see the show. Friends, colleagues, clients and all my close relatives from all over the country. I am so proud and I feel motivated and inspired.

So many wonderful talks, hard discussions, big laughs.

Robert Habeck opened the show on Wednesday 16th of January with a precisely developed analysis of my work and  a general overview to the question „How does it feel to be photographed as a very popular politician?“.

He started with a rough description of the fact that „Haltung“ can be „Pose“ and „Position“ at the same time in german language. Given that many people are disappointed by politics and politicians,  photography can help to „put this question to a test“, a proof if there’s a strong and clear position or not. The best way to find out, Habeck said, is find hints about the sorrows and the wishes of people.  The goal should be to „be touched deeply by a picture“ and if one can be touched by heart just in looking at a portrait he won’t „leave the picture as the same person than he went into it“.

Robert said that my portraits are able to serve as a touching, changing work. I must say, this is the most beautiful compliment ever about my work….

He continued in dividing the physical position and the political position, that maybe can match. And that leaves the viewer, you, yes YOU, alone. You have to question your expectations, what do you WANT to see when you look at politicians? „Position can also be Contenance, meaning to stand by with a position against pressure“.

And can you see this? How far would YOU go in straightly following an idea? How far can you go in feeling empathy with a „political enemy?“ Robert chose my portrait of nationalist leader Alexander Gauland to say :“A person that could not be in a greater political distance. But the portrait was able to touch me, to learn something about the state of mind of Gauland. About the human being.“

Robert finished in saying that the big challenge is to get behind what Walter Benjamin described as the „aloofness of every person“. The aloofness of politicians is something that is very important for them and the technique of getting beyond should be very careful.

„That maybe is the secret behind Dominiks pictures“

Anatol Kotte joined me in a discussion on „Haltung“ during our artist talk on February 13th. Anatol criticized me: the touching picture of AfD leader A.Gauland would be too much touching. „You are helping him with the picture“. I answered that my approach to photography is a human approach and I won’t leave this path whoever I am going to portray. Anatols way would be to let the right wing leaders reveal their character just by themselves, just make it visible how bad they are.

Many photographers were present and we were discussing how much the photographer himself must have a strong position, how much he needs to convince the portrayed person to cooperate just with his own character. In the end we agreed in the fact that a portrait photographer must have found himself, simply should know what he himself loves and hates to bring someone else down to himself.

And that is what I wanted to say when I chose HALTUNG as an headline.

Christiane Meixner wrote in the TAGESSPIEGEL about the show. She attested my theory about the consequent position a photographer needs to portray people. „When someone photographs like Dominik Butzmann he shows a strong and clear position. And when someone is photographed like this  – he is forced to show a clear position. „

Christiane described my show as „intensive“ and „beautiful“ and that my pictures are a „psychological study on the nature of politics“ that want to “ show the human being behind the politician“.

HALTUNG was displayed from 18ht January to  16th of February at janinebeangallery, Torstraße 154 in Berlin.

Prints/Conditions available through the Gallery.


All pictures by Sascha Hilgers