I opened and read in the book The Land in Between again and again over the past few months. Basically, it is a publication that goes hand in hand with a comprehensive exhibit of Düsseldorf photographer Ursula Schulz-Dornburg at the Städelmuseum. The photographs of Schulz-Dornburg beckon one to study them for a long time, but they read differently from the narrative copy that – at a minimum – dictates the direction of reading.
Schulz-Dornburg’s photographs do not have an arc. They do not offer a foreground and many of the shots make one amazed about the motivation that moved the photographer to take a certain image and one has to look at it again in more detail. The images keep my vision alert, take it on surprising journeys and trigger my curiosity since all of the elements of the image are apparently equally important components of a cohesive whole and say: This is what the world is made of. The photographed landscapes are located in Armenia, Yemen, Iraq or in Turkey. In her images, the photographer does not pretend to be familiar with the depicted individuals and locations. She appears to have spent rather little time at these places before she continued on her journey. Nevertheless, her sightings are not fleeting, but record in all the all-important brevity the visible trades of human dreams, wishes, inventions – from clay shards from Mesopotamia to reed houses, railway tracks or weathered bus stops of current times. This thought of the simultaneousness of things that exist out of synch has touched me time and again during the months the pandemic persisted. It is the fact that we currently live with the residue of different pasts even today, although it is clear that we cannot return to earlier times. The ›normality‹ so many of us long for will have a completely different face.
Stefan Schneider, Düsseldorf, 8 February 2021