5070 by Kurt Hörbst

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As a recent father of twin girls (who at 10 months are discovering that screaming at the top of their lungs is fun!) I can relate to Kurt Hörbst’s recent book from Fotohof called 5070. Over the course of their pregnancy, Horbst photographed his wife Alexandra with a large format camera and black and white film.

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Hörbst describes the day to day in frames that lend themselves to formal play; his wife standing in a stream, lounging outdoors, on the metro, waiting for an ultrasound, listening to music at a kneipe, and finally in the hospital. The 29 photographs are beautiful and full with his wife playing a static part while the world seems to flow around her. The anticipation of each step of pregnancy can seem to drag time to a stand still, while afterwards, all becomes a blur.

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There is a quiet and introspective tone at work although the camera always seems to be a presence. Perhaps it is the formal rigor of many of the better photos that draws this to the surface and in my opinion rings a slightly false note. It is a delicate balance.

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In the publisher’s words the work depicts “issues such as loneliness, uncertainty and joyful anticipation, unrest and calm, curiosity, anxiety and pride.” Perhaps if one is speaking generally about the emotions of pregnancy but in these photographs of Alexandra I find no range, just a vague sense of indifference in her expression (or perhaps the reality is an over awareness of the camera). I don’t fault the book for this necessarily. Much of pregnancy is a slow uncomfortable boredom.

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On the surface the sequence seems to adhere to the progression of time but a thumbnail index in the back of the book reveals the photographer/bookmaker playing some slight tricks for the benefit of the sequence which I am not entirely certain made much of a difference. Looking at the thumbnails, other than the frontispiece of Alexandra in the stream (which is the right start to the book), I think the sequence could have worked also just following the natural order too.

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The last image reveals the title, Hörbst’s son in his first hour of life, in color and on a scale weighing 5070gm. That image is an actual print adhered to the page.

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Funny but many publishers relate making a book to giving birth. As someone who has done both, publish books and seen through the process of my wife giving birth to our girls, I hope that metaphor gets retired. Making books is trite in comparison.

 

Kurt Hörbst: 5070

Fotohof Edition

Edition of 350

ISBN: 9783902675910