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Baku by Wulf Rössler

A new work assignment in Baku, Azerbaijan, in January 2020. Wulf Rössler has never been there before and there was not much for him time to prepare the trip. Baku, a name he only knew from Formula 1, and a city circuit with a spectacular skyline in the background. A look at the map where Baku is located, a stopover in Istanbul in the middle of the night, and arrival in the morning fog of Baku.

Not the best time of the year and not the best conditions for photography. He decided to take his Leica Q2 with him to be fast and unobtrusive when taking pictures. Being picked up from the hotel in the morning and brought back later in the evening allowed him only fleeting glimpses of an unknown city. Also, only a few moments to take a breather on the beach or at the pier. First rays of sunshine in the morning on the 24th floor of the hotel.

Big black SUVs and business people in the city center. But a few minutes away from the center, painstakingly mended cars that had escaped the car crusher in western European countries and people whose hard life was written on their faces.

BAKU, WHO ARE YOU? Who are those people walking along the roadside so much occupied with themselves? Everything seems to be locked up. Walls around so many buildings, even watchtowers as if the middle ages still were present. Now and then in the distance, the towers of oil wells, which represent the wealth of the country. A mysterious country. Mysterious people. Everything at the interface between the past and future.

Arrival in the morning fog of Baku

Wulf Rössler looked at images of Baku at Instagram – nobody seems to see what he has seen. This journey was like a dream, as he might have told his analyst on the couch.

Wulf Rössler use his camera to concentrate and focus on the essence of the city and its surroundings. These images should be monochromatic. Some images are blurred, reflecting his state of mind lacking a clear idea what this city is about. In the distance a giant wheel like a spaceship. A couple seems to enter the spaceship. Are these aliens? One image depicting a street sign in blue with a pedestrian who seems on the road to hades, another image with a small red spot catching his attention. At a bus stop isolated people, everybody for himself, lonesome, introverted. Fragments of reminiscence, unreal, enigmatic, waiting to be deciphered.
  • Baku (6) by Wulf Rössler

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I am a psychiatrist, social scientist and photographer. My profession as psychiatrist takes me to many places all over the world, either doing research, teaching students or medical staff, seeing patients or all of it. But no matter what I do, the camera is always with me. My professional identity gives me the opportunity to look at these places from very different perspectives than I would if travelling as a tourist. It’s a gut feeling which literally forces me to take a photo. Sometimes it is a facial expression or just a hand movement, which catches my attention. But one thing is for sure: the observed moment remains only for a fraction of  a second. Missed opportunities remain in my memory unpleasantly for several days. My photographic work always relates to a psychological interpretation of the present environment. It usually helps me to understand better this environment. My camera obviously can see things I haven’t noticed before. When returning from a journey I am sometimes surprised what is on a photo. Central elements of a photo become peripheral and vice versa. Then again I turn the “objective” photographic image into my subjective perception. Photography is self-experience. This is also expressed with my (self-)portrait. One eye looks through the lens (in this case on Sao Paulo), the other eye looks into your inner world.

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