This series captures 80-year-old German photographer Fritz Dressler coping with Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia for the last years. Besides his photographic career Dressler was professor for design, photography and „moving images“ at the University of the Arts Bremen, Germany. Since then, his life has become lonely in his home village Worpswede, a famous artists’ place in Germany where Fritz was a leading figure for the last 40 years. Health workers drop in everyday. Unable to call his state of mind by it’s name anymore, Dressler musingly comments on it as a matter of fact: „Actually, I don`t know anything anymore.“ But he is yet well aware of his outstanding life and artistic career as a photographer, a knowledge that preserves his identity and presence so far: „I’m not dead, I’m walking!“ In autumn 2016, I started to photograph Fritz Dressler trying to keep in mind how he himself feels about the break down of his creative energy and the rapid disappearance of his intellectual abilities.
The series’ title refers to James Joyce’s Bildungsroman. It ironically comments on the fact that my protagonist, after having already lost his place in society due to him being mentally non-normative, is now on the verge of loosing himself instead of enjoying the wisdom of age. During this project Fritz has found immense pleasure and pride in himself by falling back on taking pictures himself. Something he did forget before, and something that will be forgotten soon again. Fritz’s pictures will be part of a future book project.
AUTHOR: Mirja Maria Thiel GERMANY
Mirja Maria Thiel was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1971. She holds a Master of Arts in American, English and German Literature and Linguistics from the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, Germany. She worked for the literary publishing houses’ editorial departments at Suhrkamp and Schöffling & Co as well as for the image editorial department of the World Wide Fund for Nature. The experience of motherhood has intensified her enduring interest in storytelling as a means of rising to challenge, living with change and empathising with humanity’s vulnerability. At the Centre National de l’Audiovisuel in Luxembourg she took photography workshops with Darcy Padilla, Rob Hornstra and Vanessa Winship. Since 2014 Mirja has been a student on the degree program (B.A.) „Photojournalism and Documentary Photography“ at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Hannover, Germany. In her personal longterm projects Mirja concentrates on documenting her family life as well as covering the topic of „old age“.