The Volksbühne presents Michael Schmidt’s
WAFFENRUHE as a nocturnal projection

Michael Schmidt, WAFFENRUHE, 1987 (Projection, 2018)


Every evening from sunset until midnight

Michael Schmidt (1945 – 2014), one of the definitive German post-war photographers, had a profound effect on the imagery of his native city, Berlin. A decisive part of this influence came from Schmidt’s book and exhibition project Waffenruhe (Ceasefire), which was created in the mid-80s together with author and director Einar Schleef (1944-2001) and exhibited in 1987 in the Berlinische Galerie in Martin-Gropius-Bau.

Through atmospherically condensed, fragmented and high-contrast black and white photographs of urban landscapes, natural details and portraits, Schmidt sketched out a subjective picture of the still-divided city. His technique went beyond the methods of pure documentation, and formulated instead, through unexpected compositions, the feeling of a generation.

Schmidt developed a world of fractures and gaps that defies any pretence of a definitive overview. Together with Schleef’s text, a brusque and highly personal view on the fragility of human existence emerges.
30 years after its premiere, Waffenruhe is now being shown for the first time in the form of a nocturnal projection on the Volksbühne’s façade, exhibiting it in public space. As in the 1987 exhibition, Schmidt’s photographs are connected to sentences Schleef selected from his texts.

The presentation was developed in the artist’s studio in collaboration with Karin Schmidt and curated by Thomas Weski. The artistic realisation was developed by Laura Bielau. Koenig Books, London is also reissuing WAFFENRUHE on the occasion of this production.

A Volksbühne Berlin production in cooperation with the Foundation for Photography and Media Art with the Michael Schmidt Archive.

Sponsored by the cultural fund of the German Savings Banks Association (DSGV).

In the coming weeks, the Volksbühne’s programme also includes other an event about Berlin and its changes: On 5 February, the Volksbühne - in cooperation with the Berlin Wall Foundation, the Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft, the Berlin Center for Cold War Studies and the Federal Agency for Civic Education - will present an evening of films, music and discussions titled Achtundzwanzig Jahre mit und ohne Mauer (Twenty-Eight Years With and Without the Wall) with i.a. Jürgen Böttcher, Durs Grünbein, Toni Krahl, Ulrike Poppe, Gabriele Stötzer and Christoph Singelnstein.


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