Matthias Fechter, Jürgen Raap, Georg Schiller, Uwe Schmitz
Rat und Tat Werbeagentur GmbH, Düsseldorf
37 × 26,5 cm
Reinterpreting the Classical Panorama
The mythical character of the Rhine as a ‘German symbol’ has long been of profound interest to poets and visual artists. Today, however, the Rhine has lost the aura of a great romantic river along much of its course: from Basel to Rotterdam, it serves as a high-volume shipping lane, and sprawling industrial installations line its banks.
At the dawn of the new millennium, Stephan Kaluza (b. Bad Iburg, 1964; lives and works in Düsseldorf) went on an almost eight-months-long walking tour, following the Rhine from its source at the foot of Piz Badus in Switzerland to its debouchment into the North Sea near Rotterdam. During this thousand-mile trek along the river’s right bank, he stopped every minute—after between two and three hundred feet—to take a photograph of the opposite shore. In this way, his camera compiled a painstaking record of the Rhine in 21,449 individual shots. Digitally assembled in a single six-inch-tall composite image, the pictures form a two-and-a-half-mile stream.
What Kaluza created in this project would have been inconceivable before the development of digital photography, which made the seamless presentation of the pictures in a single panoramic band possible. What is more, the computers capable of processing the enormous quantities of data did not arrive until a few years ago. It took the artist’s assistants a full two years just to edit the images. Harnessing digital technology, Kaluza creates for photography what had been the exclusive precinct of painting: a sweeping holistic perspective. A large number of the fascinating panorama photographs were published in the imposing tome Der Rhein in 2007. Das Rheinprojekt now presents a freshly composed selection from this treasure trove.
Stephan Kaluza received a comprehensive education in Düsseldorf in the 1990s, studying photography at the city’s University of Applied Sciences, art history at the Academy of Fine Arts, and history and philosophy at Düsseldorf University. Since 1995, his work has been shown at numerous galleries in Seoul, Shanghai, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, Berlin and elsewhere. Kaluza’s plays have been performed in Düsseldorf, Berlin, and Stuttgart.