Sigmar Polke: Road Trip through the Middle East



English/German, Softcover
• 96 pages
• 26.5 x 21.1 cm

• Published by Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf & Kicken Berlin, 2020 


Sigmar Polke: Road Trip through the Middle East was published jointly by Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf and Kicken, Berlin, on occasion of the exhibition of the same title, which took place at Sies + Höke in 2020.

This publication focuses on a group of photographs Sigmar Polke took during a six month journey on the “Hippie Trail” in 1974. Its destination: Afghanistan and Pakistan. The pictures of this adventure became a milestone in his work - and in German photography in general. With his photographs of bear fights and groups of men, Polke ties in with 19th-century Oriental photography. But Polke would not be Polke if he did not take into account the historical, clichéd view of this cosmos into which he immersed himself. Particularly his images of opium caves of the Pakistani city of Quetta are of great intimacy and intensity. They bear witness to Polke’s immensely poetic, gentle and devoted approach, full of melancholy and enthusiasm for a world beyond any petty-bourgeois reality. A few years after his return, the artist returned to these images and worked on them with chemicals, sharp objects and bright colours. The results of these manipulations are absolute masterpieces in Polke's oeuvre. Whoever looks at these ghostly and beautiful works today can hardly escape their spell.

This publication contains images of 18 photographic works, alongside exhibition views and extensive work details, including provenance, literature and exhibition history. It also features two essays: Easy Rider: Sigmar Polke and the Journey through the Orient by Gesine Borcherdt as well as Pakistan and Beyond. On Sigmar Polke’s Orientalist Photography and Transcultural Interspaces by Ulli Seegers.

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