The radical leftist group Red Army Faction (RAF) and the ‘German Summer’ of 1977 have been extensively addressed from journalistic, historical, literary and cinematic perspectives. In his most recent project, photographer and image archeologist Arwed Messmer has now explored this traumatic chapter in the history of the German Republic from a photographic point of view. The resulting exhibition, titled RAF – No Evidence, is displayed at the Folkwang Museum in Essen until 3 September 2017.
The project is centred around previously neglected images taken by police photographers, depicting demonstrations, crime sites and scenes recorded for investigative purposes. Having discovered these images in various state archives, the question arose as to how these former documents of a criminal investigation could be turned into an artistic exploration of this historical point in time.
The selected photographs cover the period from 1967 to 1977 – spanning from the beginnings of the RAF to the multiple eruptions of violence in the year 1977, including the kidnapping and murder of Hanns-Martin Schleyer and the suicides of Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and Jan-Carl Raspe at the Stuttgart-Stammheim prison. Messmer’s in-depth research has unearthed predominantly unpublished images, often found on the same filmstrip as subsequently famous photographs of the same scene.
For further information visit Museum Folkwang and Arwed Messmer