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der mann mit dem regenschirm - umbrella man
it is a sunny friday in 1963 when louie steven witt positions himself - black umbrella in hand - on a street in dallas, texas. he wants to silently protest against the intransparent position of the president's family towards adolf hitler before world war II. shots are fired in the exact moment that he lifts his umbrella to wave to the president who is driving by in his motorcade. john f. kennedy has been assassinated.
witt can be seen in photographs and video stills of the moment. he steps forward as the "umbrella man" in 1978 when he finds out that his actions have been cause for conspiracy theories since the assassination. conspiracy theorists argue that he signalled to shoot, that a gun was hidden in the umbrella, that he somehow stunned the president to make him an easier target.
the (unlucky) accident plays a major role in history as well as in photography. the chance encounter is very often the basis for the "decisive moment". but what happens behind this decisive moment? what happens if we look past the obvious?
digital photography leads to the phenomenon of the "photo-tourist", who exits the tour bus, snaps pictures of a landmark or tourist site and leaves the scene without paying attention to what he actually took pictures of. it is only afterwards that a representation of a reality is being viewed. and maybe it is afterwards that we see the "umbrella man" - a person or situation that was unconsciously recorded while focusing at something different. this could be the starting point for speculation. maybe the people are only at the wrong place at the wrong time, doing the wrong thing. and by that they might become versions or relatives of the "umbrella man".

johannes rigal

(urban) photography & art
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