Photographs by Herlinde Koelbl
9 May to 5 October 2014
With her new, international art project TARGETS the photographer Herlinde Koelbl deals with military training and the cultural differences that are reflected in the targets used for shooting practice in the different countries. The photographs, which were taken over a period of six years in almost 30 countries, will be shown in the German Historical Museum for the first time in 2014, the commemorative year of the First World War.
The exhibition focuses on the unusual topic of targets on which people are trained to be soldiers and prepared for war. They shed light on the changes in the respective "foe images". Does the enemy have a face? Are they abstract? In search of answers Herlinde Koelbl journeyed to military training grounds in the USA, China, Russia, Afghanistan, Brazil, Ethiopia, Norway, Mongolia and many other countries. The photographs show tattered cardboard man-sized silhouettes, plastic dolls riddled with gunshots and metal plates pierced by bullets. At the same time they reveal the different techniques and topographies of war. American soldiers train house-to-house fighting in desert cities created by Hollywood set designers, Japanese militaries prepare for war in unknown territories by passing through surrealistic concrete chasms.
Video and sound installations and portraits of soldiers complement the photos. Excerpts from interviews give a personal insight into the situation of soldiers at the world’s firing ranges. Ultimately, they themselves are going to be the targets in armed conflicts. In this way Herlinde Koelbl makes us feel the real savagery of death and war through her pictures, without resorting to any form of sensationalism.