Every Thursday at seven
A table in a tavern or inn: the top is made of solid wood or veneer; it's easy-to-clean formica almost worn off. We rarely find a tablecloth covering it and flowers are practically non-existent. Sometimes there are pictures or photographs of long-forgotten guests or barkeepers on the walls behind the table, but often also antlers, pitchers or other devotional objects. In a sense, it is a table like any other. If there wasn’t that little sign Stammtisch [round table / regulars table] – an ash tray, a pennon, or a cast-iron sign, marking the table and its surrounding chairs and benches as a special territory, access only for certain persons. But what is a Stammtisch? We all think we know. According to linguistic research, the German-speaking countries all associate identical elements of meaning. Men, beer, and outspokenness – trust and sociability, are some of the terms that are mentioned spontaneously.
Volker Schrank does not provide a nostalgic documentation of an endangered site of sentimental German mental states and a middle class sense of comfort. Instead we see empty interiors without people, reduced to the contextual minimum: tables and chairs in front of a wall – and the Stammtisch sign. However, with our inner eye we see the protagonists soon to take their seats. Local dignitaries for example – a cheery conspiring group wheeling and dealing for power and city contracts. We know these kinds of people, the loud ones, the soft-spoken, the dogmatic, the silent, the melancholic and the perpetually cheery. The way we see these rounds, we also hear them. We are familiar with their words and their very particular communicative style. As cultural anthropologist Wolfgang Reinhard emphasizes “it is of central importance for political culture that Stammtische generally see politicians as crooks, yet they follow the successes and losses of local and national sports stars as their own.”
Stammtisch – that is the persistent effort to find simple answers to complex questions. In his work, Volker Schrank has thereby found an elegant and indirect manner to illustrate the rituals of societal discourse.
bildkultur presents the series Stammtische as an exhibition
12 Fine-Art Prints,
Giclée-print on watercolour-paper
Picture format 1000 x 1000 mm
© Volker Schrank / bildkultur 2009
lives and works in Stuttgart. In 1999, he won the Award of the Federation of Independent Photo Designers. In 2000, he received a scholarship from the Art Foundation Baden-Württemberg.
He became well-known for his collection Stars of Truth, which portrayed Germany's major television newscasters in a new artistic way. He unwaveringly devotes himself to the photographic exploration of myths.