Joachim Schmid, The 'Accidental' Aritst: Bilder von der Straße


I came across Schmid's work in the library earlier this week by complete chance. I was instantly drawn to the fragmented photographs that had been carefully pieced back together and needed to know what these images were, who they belonged to, and even more importantly why they had been ripped up in the first place?

On further reading I learnt that Schmid calls himself an 'accidental artist' and collects found photographs on the streets that would have been discarded of if he hadn't picked them up. We know little about the people in the photograph and why they have been thrown away but this mystery allows us to create our own narratives for the images. Are they unwanted photographs because of aesthetic reasons? Light leaks, blurred images, red eye etc. Or do they hold a greater narrative, were they ripped up in anger, bitterness or frustration? Are these images evidence of someones physically repressed memories?

"In a society that relies on photography to archive memory, the bitterness left behind by a failed romance is overcome by destroying all photographic evidence of the former lover in what the artist refers to as a "kind of voodoo like ritual"' - Joachim Schmid, Photoworks 1982-2007

Although Joachim insists he 'finds' his large collection of photographs I can't help but wonder if this is entirely true or whether he rips apart and damages the photograph himself, which would change the nature of the work completely. When looking at his images you can't help but question the authenticity of these photographs. How often do you find a photograph ripped into pieces, lying on the street? I've tried to research where exactly he 'finds' these images but there is little to no information on this which I find intriguing.

Schmid is well known for one of his photo projects that started through a prank when he posted what appeared to be a serious notice in a newspaper about how unwanted photographs and negatives are ecological dangerous. He set up an 'institute' where he claimed to ' 'safely recycle' these dangerous images and films. This story circled worldwide and Schmid received thousands of peoples unwanted photographs through the post. He created a series of works after receiving a collection of medium format negatives that had been sliced down the middle from a professional photo studio. All the images had been shot in exactly the same position for years and he created an interesting and uncanny series of portraits titled 'Photogenic Drafts':

You can listen to an interview with the artist on Lens Culture or visit Schmids website for further information and projects.