Dörte Eißfeldt

Schneeball – limited edition book/leporello, 1989/90

I will start by saying that this might be the oldest book on this blog, but I won’t call it “old”. Whats 20 years? In fact it is exactly 20 years now that I have lived in Europe, almost half of my life and that is what brings me to post about this little leporello. Its kind of a long story, but it is a circular one, therefore fitting it be about an endless accordion book.

In 1989/90 I was in Europe for the first time as a student at Salzburg College. While here (I never left) I had the amazing luck to have Dörte Eißfeldt as my professor. She was/is like no other teacher I had known before; she wasn’t a teacher, didn’t care about grades or assignments or rules. She was all about spirit, which sounds esoteric now, but as a 20 year old coming from the clutches of a hardcore LandscapeDocumentaryNewTopographics school in Arizona, she was like a magic princess. And she always wore fantastic shoes. Funny the things we remember.

Anyway, she lived in Hamburg at the time which was a 14 hour commute to Salzburg so she would often live at the school over the weekends and on one such visit she was producing her new book “Snowball” with the “European Photography” publishers. Everyone wanted to hang out with Dörte, and I was the lucky one to get to spend a night in the darkroom with her, running 500 prints through the chemicals. Each of the “Snowball” books has a tipped-in b/w print of a snowball, printed on a beautiful single weight fiber paper.

The book was made, the semester ended, we parted ways, I never got a snowball book.

Now, 20 years later, by pure coincidence and a bit of planning by Robert Morat, I end up having a show of my work at his gallery parallel to Richard Renaldi. Richard and I have recently become friends, though our paths crossed years ago as Richard was also a student of Dörte’s, just one year ahead of me. So, it made sense to have Dörte say a few words about our works at the opening in Hamburg last month. We were together again after a long time. Careers have shifted up and down, our work and lives has taken us all in various ways, but it was still great to stand there and have Dörte cast her spell; thanks Dörte!

At the end of the evening, she pulled a copy of “Schneeball” out of her bag, and finally, after 20 years, I get to hold one.

They are not so rare, and still very affordable, you can start your search here at Schaden, though they say they are out of stock, so maybe they have all melted…

The Snowball book is a leporello, endless with text on one side and 29 images on the other. What at first look to be 29 different snowballs turns out to be 29 versions of the same negative. The hands-on process of spending an exceptionally long amount of time in the darkroom with one single negative, moving it, dodging it, burning it, reversing it, splashing it redefining it each time.

twenty-nine approaches to a snowball, presented in a special foldout edition.”Starting with one single, basic photo of a snowball in the palm of a hand,we are taken through the multitude of prints, the different and contrastingvariations of light and dimensions of the image, from a cosmic spectacle – a sphere tumbling in a dark space – to a more intimate and erotic experience”

(Monique David-Ménard).