Detlev Schilke Photographie


Jazz Calendiary 2007
Foreword: Wolf Kampmann (Translation Daniela Aue) Publisher: JazzPrezzo Verlag

Few photographers are gifted in teaching others the ability to listen through their pictures. Detlev Schilke's photographs are singing. Not only because he takes pictures of music. Whenever he meets a musician with his camera he is not satisfied by just fixing his features. He is not just concerned about contrasts, contours, foreground or surrounding. Recognizability follows spontaneous arrangements. Detlev Schilke subordinates the laws of optics, he looks behind the subject matter, he triggers vibrations. His glissandi allow the eye to slip through a facade that seems to be impermeable. Details often say more than the whole. It could be a musician's foot or a rolled up cable laying next to an instrument that captures Schilke's attention and uncovers aspects of an artist that go far beyond a well done portrait. It is not necessary having experienced a certain musical moment. You can imagine it with the full power of all senses through Detlev Schilke.

Detlev Schilke not only taught me to trust my ear, but to talk about music without describing it analogously. His photos have let me to the insight that it is not the obvious that matters but what you discovers behind it. Penetrating the surface to catch the character of a certain sound. Not identifying of the individual expression of others, but meeting them with an equally individual attitude. Schilke's visual magic is extremely emotional. He is intimate without denouncing, he tells stories and writes history. Each photo is the reflection of a moment, but with Detlev Schilke these moments are always to be understood as a particle of eternity.

The Many Faces of Jazz
Photographies by Patrick Hinely and Detlev Schilke.
28.10.2016 - Author: Patrick Hinely

During my first few years among the ranks of photographers at JazzFest Berlin, the process of learning the local etiquettes was an ongoing challenge. There were a few professional colleagues, mostly newspaper guys, who would use their elbows, knees or feet to let me know I was in their way. Others were more subtle, some even patient, and many collegial.
In 1990, I started to notice this same fellow hovering in the center of my shots, behind the subject, across the stage: I kept waiting for him to move, but he seldom did. One time I looked up at him, glaring, more out of frustration than hostility, thinking why the hell doesn’t he get out of my shot, only to encounter his gaze, glaring back at me, as if to say, again more with frustration than hostility, “why don’t you move out of my shot?” That was Detlev Schilke.

We pretty quickly realized we were seeing – and seeking – similar images, simply from opposite sides! We began to hang out in the canteen during breaks. Detlev didn’t speak much English, and I didn’t speak much German, but, being visually-oriented people, we managed to communicate, through gesture and good will, showing each other examples of our work, as well as using the few words – in both languages – we had in common. Coffee and wheat beer fueled our attempts at conversation, with ongoing and increasing success.

From this has evolved more than professional courtesy: there is also mutual respect. Ever since, we have continued to defer to one another during the pressure-cooker atmosphere JazzFest sound checks can be, sometimes chiding a professional colleague when he – or she – misbehaves, because we know we will all be judged by our worst-behaved colleague.
My bonding experience with Detlev came during JazzFest 1991, after the NRG Ensemble performance at the Franz Club, an ECM Records event celebrating the release of their label-debut album. I’d caught a ride over to the gig in what was then a less familiar part of town, but had no ride back. Detlev offered me a lift in his Trabant, and chauffeured me back via the Brandenburg Gate, which was the first time I had ever passed through it. This was a monumentally sweet moment which will stay with me always.

Detlev’s work was featured in Jazzprezzo’s 2007 “JazzCalendiary”, and my own in the 2008 edition. Over the years, we have both made our livings shooting all sorts of subjects, primarily for publication, but jazz musicians remain at the top of both our lists as preferred subjects. In 2014, we were both honored to be included among the small group of photographers whose work was shown in the Haus der Berliner Festspiele during the 50th anniversary edition of Berlin’s jazz festival.
By that time, Detlev had already begun making enquiries about a larger exhibition of our work, and now his efforts have come to fruition. I am very pleased to be a part of all this, and hope he feels my work complements his as much as I feel his work complements my own.

Patrick Hinely, Lexington, Virginia USA, October 2016

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