One could throw Michael Schmidt´s “Waffenruhe” and John Gossages projects about “The Berlin Wall” in one pot to stir it well. After all, they both use here similar stylistic means: spacious dark images with strong graphical impact, searching for the overlooked and neglected. But they work with completely different ideas in mind.
While Schmidt thematizes German separation, and maybe also the mood of an anonymous metropolis, Gossage is mainly looking for wastlands, in Berlin to be found in the forgotten area close to “The Wall.”
He is searching for his images in the untidy, scruffy backyard of a big city. He finds beauty here, because beauty is here to find.
Gossage uses the “The Wall”, the ruins, and the city, which has turned his back on him, as pretense to create graphic abstractions of enormous and unconventional beauty. For him, reality seems to be the mere pretext for his search of his particular form.
Now we could position the pure beauty of his images against the photographs by Schmidt that tend to relate to the German present with traces of its history. We could ponder about who influenced, or even, who copied whom. But what would be the use of this? Both bodies of work exist on their own right.
Michael Schmidt, his projects have shown this, redefines again and again his pictorial language. With the exception of “women”, it is always the German present, unthinkable without the past, which connects his projects.
Other than Schmidt, Gossage permanently works on his one and only photographic cosmos, no matter where he takes his images. The two are very different types of artists, whose ways have crossed for a moment, in Berlin, in the time of “The Wall.”