Most people know Günter Westphal from Hamburg, Germany, as a photographer, a social artist and an activist in the Münzviertel neighborhood (in St. Georg, Hamburg). He also happens to be my father.
When he attended a Chicago artist residency (sponsored by the Goethe Institute and the Hamburg Ministry of Culture) for the month of November, I was able to fly up there from Colorado twice and explore the city with him and help with his presentation at the Experimental Station. I also took the opportunity to shoot this micro-interview with him. And because this week was his birthday, I thought this would be the right week to publish this video.
Günter is an amazing photographer, whose images always have a deeper meaning than you might think at a first glance. He gave me my first camera when I was 8 years old, and I’d like to believe that he also gave me my passion for photography and cinematography (if not also the photographic eye).
However, what I find even more inspiring, yet much more difficult to explain, is the social art he creates. To put it real simple: he’s a social activist who sees his activities and makes his decisions with a sense of aesthetics or even based on aesthetic criteria. To look at it from the other side: he creates art that actually makes the world a better place – not just theoretically, but practically. This I wish I could say of my own work.
Günter would never put his creative, philosophical and social endeavors in such simple terms – because nothing ever is that simple. Part of his work is even to question this work…
So to put him on the spot and make him explain his work, his motivation and his philosophy in simple, short sentences was probably a bit unfair from the beginning. But I couldn’t pass up the chance to have him in my little video series. Of course, it was just as much of a challenge to try to get all he said into a 1-minute video. I couldn’t. So what you watch here is a stripped-down and simplified version of his answers. And because he spoke in German, you will also have to contend with English subtitles. My suggestion: watch it several times – once just for the words, once just for the images…
If you want to see more…
… please check out the following posts with photos Günter took during his time in Chicago:
City Development from the Bottom Up – The Example Of The Hamburg (Germany) Neighborhood Münzviertel – A Conversation with Günter Westphal – Saturday, November 22, 5pm Experimental Station – 6100 South Blackstone Ave, Chicago?
… and some of the related videos I’ve made: