But of course, there are exceptions to this rule. One of these occasions happened in March 29, 1982 backstage in the hallways of the TV-channel ZDF. Kraftwerk was about to do a performance with the hit singel ”The Model” on the TV-program Na Sowas which was aired between 1982 and 1987. The photographer Didi Zill who had been working for the German pop magazine Bravo for many years was there as well, knowing that asking Kraftwerk for some photos wasn’t much of an idea. But he approached them anyway and to his surprise the band said yes. Suddenly they all grabbed cameras from Didi’s equipment and started posing in their puppet-like rigid manner. The outcome was a whole deck of photos. Didi was supposedly only working with one flash and was trying to make the best out of the situation.
In the photo above which was published as a poster in Bravo nr 5 in May the same year, the four members from the line-up which many consider the classic one, are posing in black outfits and makeup. From left to right we see Florian Schneider, Ralf Hütter, Wolfgang Flür and Karl Bartos. More than robots, the members have a creepy distant quality like a bunch of zombies and they are wearing the cameras as weapons in front of them. They become like an impenetrable mass filling up the image, slowly getting closer, resembling a clip from the horror film Dead & Buried by Gary Sherman from 1981 where zombies take pictures while brutally slaying people.
By turning the cameras towards the photographer Kraftwerk creates an image of control. In the age of papparazzis and surveillance cameras the camera itself becomes the machine that watch our every move. Photography that result in a paranoid society were integrity doesn’t exist and where everyone become aware of themselves as images, or in a term used by the band - showroom dummies. Kraftwerk said on the LP Computerwelt from 1981 ”Interpol und Deutsche Bank. FBI und Scotland Yard. Finanzamt und das BKA haben unsere daten da.” Maybe this is what the band is portraying, photography as an act of violence.
Andréas Hagström is an artist living in Gothenburg, Sweden. Studying arts and photography, he has been involved in various projects in Sweden and worldwide. In addition he has also a great interest in Kraftwerk and has wrote a number of articled on his website:
- A model of 22 years & Condenced concert - Two sound pieces
- Neonlight - Signs of Düsseldorf - Analysis of the video Neonlights
- Bildmaterialet från Kraftwerks konserter 1975-76 - Kraftwerk concerts
- Kraftwerks estetik under turnén 1981 - "Mensch Machine" esthetics
- Picture analysis of the "Radioaktivität" album cover
- Picture analysis of the "Autobahn" album cover
- Picture analysis of the "Trans europe express" album cover
More on the F-blog about Kraftwerk, click here.
Invited by Anders Blomqvist