copyright © Karl Haupt 2001
September 13th, 2001
photography series includes over 250 images. These photos are mainly long
exposures only lit by the emergency floodlights of the search-and-rescue teams
at the WTC site. A rising wind on the 13th of September made it
possible for the first time to photograph the disaster within the immediate
vicinity. During that night, the excavation
work stopped for the first time due to a suspected gas leak, which allowed
specialists to listen for possibly trapped survivors underneath the wreckage -
after two days of frantic digging.
The Daily Star
Photographer focuses on ground zero in NYC
By Jill Fahy
ONEONTA - Karl Haupt said he was out to capture the surreal atmosphere
of ground zero when he took a 35 mm camera and about 30 rolls of film to the
site and began shooting. It was Sept. 13, two days after the
Haupt, of Oneonta and
Shot at night, the images, titled "Commemoration
"It looks like another place and another time," said a woman who attended Wednesday's program. "It's not real."
Haupt said it wasn't easy to get close to ground zero. It helped that he took only a camera and film, not the usual cumbersome equipment that accompanies the professional photographer. As he shot he could feel the heat radiating from the pile of welds, pressed steel and concrete. "It was one of the first impressions I got."
Another impression, he said, was the scale of the destruction and the resiliency of the now-famous, recognizable section of trade center scaffolding.
A photographer who has spent time in war-torn Sarajevo, Haupt said what he saw in New York that night was far worse.
"It doesn't measure up at all," said Haupt of his war-time assignments. "This is incredible in terms of destruction... "I've seen the images taken during World War II, after the Allied bombings where you could see structures that were destroyed but still recognize them as what they were. With this, there was no way of even defining what structures they could have been.
Mittwoch, 29. Januar 2003
Metaphysische Dimension der Gewalt
Das Heidelberger DAI zeigt Fotografien von Karl Haupt -
Von Milan Chlumsky
In der Nacht vom 13. September 2001 - zwei Tage nach der Attacke auf das World Trade Center in New York - gelang es dem in New York geborenen und in Köln lebenden Fotografen Karl Haupt, die Absperrungen um die eingestürzten Türme zu überwinden. Heimlich und behutsam begann er die Trümmerlandschaft zu fotografieren, die inzwischen auf Tausenden von Metern fotografischen Materials festgehalten wurde und deren prägnanteste Momentaufnahmen um die Welt gingen.
Fast jeder Schritt bei der Aufräumung des Schutts, der nach dieser Katastrophe übrig blieb, wurde dokumentiert und in Ausstellungen rund um den Globus präsentiert.
In vielen Fällen wurden jene heroischen Momente gewählt, die den Einsatz unzähliger Feuerwehrleute und freiwilliger Helfer dokumentieren. Nur wenige Fotografen haben zu jener Stunde realisiert, dass es sich nicht nur um einen Terroranschlag auf das Hauptquartier des Kapitalismus handelte, der mit tatkräftiger Medienhilfe auch entsprechend visualisiert wurde, sondern dass es daneben darum ging, die westliche Welt mit einem Schlag in einen Untergang biblischen Ausmaßes hineinzureißen.
Dieses diffuse Gefühl, dass es neben der rein materiellen Zerstörung auch um die Zerstörung sämtlicher Werte ging, die das Nebeneinander von verschiedenen Zivilisationen (und Religionen) ermöglichte, kristallisierte sich nach und nach zu einem Kampf gegen den globalen Terrorismus. Das Ursprüngliche an dieser Empfindung konnte jedoch - fotografisch gesehen - nur in einem einzigen Modus wiedergegeben werden: durch gleichzeitige Nähe und Distanz, durch das bewusste Weglassen alles Heroischen und durch die genaueste Fixierung eines Zustandes im Ringen zwischen Leben und Tod, der sich womöglich immer noch in den vor der Kameralinse befindlichen Trümmern abspielte.
Eine der von Karl Haupt im Heidelberger Deutsch-Amerikanischen Institut zu sehenden großformatigen Farbaufnahmen des WTC zeigt eine noch lodernde Feuerquelle. Die Flammen erleuchten auf ähnliche Art und Weise die gespenstische Szenerie, wie es etwa William Turner in seinem Bild des brennenden "House of Lords" in London festgehalten hat. Nicht um Details ging es in diesem Bild, sondern um die - durch eine genaue Lichtregie - Wiedergabe der zerstörerischen Kraft, die aus einer realen Feuersbrunst eine symbolische machte. Diese und andere Zerstörungen prägen schließlich die Psyche der Menschen und verursachen, wenn nicht Psychosen, so doch Albträume.
Das fotografische Essay von Karl Haupt mit dem Titel "911 - A Photo Essay of Ground Zero" schreitet entlang dieses subtilen Grats zwischen dem "Symbolisch-Apokalyptischen", wie man es etwa aus der Malerei kennt, und der notwendigen Distanziertheit, die umso prägnanter die Stelle nach dem Zusammenbruch, die unvorstellbare Menge an Leid und die schwindende Hoffnung ins Bildzentrum rückt.
Dieses aus schwarz-weißen und aus fast monochrom wirkenden Farbaufnahmen bestehendes Essay ist zweifelsohne eine der besten fotografischen Dokumentationen über die Katastrophe in New York, da sie explizit jene metaphysische Ebene der Zerstörungswut berücksichtigt, die man hauptsächlich den antiken Mythen zuschrieb und nur als vage Drohung in manchen biblischen Geschichten verspürte. In Karl Haupts Essay ist diese metaphysische Ebene sichtbar.
"911- A Photo Essay of Ground Zero", DAI Heidelberg, bis 13. Februar.
translation of above
Wednesday, 29th January, 2003
Metaphysical Dimensions of Violence
During the night of September 13th, 2001 - two days after the
attacks on the
Besides the purely material destruction, there is a diffuse sense that this was a destruction of all those values that allowed the co-existence of different civilizations (and religions) - which crystallized by and by into a war against global terrorism. The root of this notion could only be shown -at least in a photographic sense - in one particular way: through simultaneous closeness and distance, by leaving out all the heroics and by capturing a condition locked in a struggle between life and death, a struggle that possibly was still taking place in front of the camera lens, underneath the ruins.
One of Karl Haupt's large-scale color photos shown at the Heidelberg
German-American Institute depicts a still blazing conflagration. The flames
illuminate the eerie scene similar to perhaps the way William Turner captured
the burning "House of Lords" of
The photographic essay by Karl Haupt with the title "911- a Photo Essay of Ground Zero", walks a fine, subtle line between the "symbolic-apocalyptic", as known from paintings, and the necessary distance to the unimaginable suffering and fading hope by placing the heavy weighing silence after the collapse into the center of the images.
This essay of black-and-white and almost monochrome-looking color photos is beyond doubt one of the best photographic documentations on the catastrophe in New York, it explicitly reflects that metaphysical level of total destruction mainly ascribed to the myths of antiquity and biblical stories, looming, vague and threatening. In Karl Haupt's essay this metaphysical level is visible.
(Translated from the German original)
Musée de l’Elysée, Museum for Photography, Lausanne, Switzerland – new york after New York
German-American Institute (DAI), Heidelberg, Germany – 911-A Photo Essay of Ground Zero
Hartwick College Gallery, Oneonta, NY, USA - Commemoration
Karl Haupt is a filmmaker and photographer originally from Oneonta, N.Y., USA. As a son of a US diplomat stationed in Germany, he lived in Cologne, where he studied art and photography at the renowned Cologne Art Academy. Out of a need to add a certain social dimension to his art, he went on to study social psychology at the University of Cologne, where he also became involved in acting at the student theatre and later in filmmaking.
tel. +49 221 240-2289
All photos by Karl Haupt copyright © Karl Haupt 2001 all rights reserved
This material may not be reproduced in any form without permission
Call 911 - the
nation-wide emergency phone number in the
September 11th is written as in the
audacity, the brazenness of the attacks shocked so completely and left so many
millions slackjawed with astonishment that it is clear that the intended shock
impact went far beyond the planners' wildest expectations. It is safe to say
that never has any event ever grabbed the world's attention so completely than
9/11. It was modern transmission technology that put the world in the front
seat - hi-tech media screamed you-are-here-now - and riveted millions of
people to their TV sets, some for days. The impression these images made will
be with everyone who watched them, and we will remember
photographs of this essay were all taken during the night of
been rigorously applied to stave off chaos; the loose rubble on the fringes of
the site had already been removed, thus containing the disaster site to more or
less the original footprint of the larger
authorities had banned all traffic and had kept everyone who wasn't directly
part of the emergency effort out of the Zone, as the military perimeter around
the WTC site was called. Thus all of
vicinity of Ground Zero itself was only approachable from the south-east, since
a light wind was blowing the heavy smoke plume north-west, making that side of
the site unbearable without some sort of breathing mask. Southeast is
photographers had made it to this vantage point ever since
of the 13th September was a special moment in the annals of the
This moment was also a cut-off point when the emergency management officials decided that there was no hope of finding anyone alive in the ruins anymore. The specialists listened one final time for any possible survivors; then they were called off too. The helicopter gunships pulled out, the Secret Service finished their work and left. For the first time the hectic activities at the site had came to a halt. The ensuing silence was extraordinary.
This photo essay attempts to describe this silence and the unreal, surreal atmosphere of Ground Zero and the Zone. Although photojournalistic by nature, this photo essay is different from the TV images we all have gotten used to. Although these photos have documented the same reality, they have found a different way of describing it. These are not photographs that shock; instead they invite the viewer to look at what was in front of the camera lens at that particular, extraordinary moment.
was only lit by the on-site floodlights, all of
was only a moment, but a particular moment plucked from a long recovery process
which changed rapidly with the circumstances, in the meanwhile almost all
traces of the
The photographic challenge of this essay was to look beyond the shock imagery of 9/11 and describe Ground Zero and its surroundings from a different perspective. To create images as distinct and unique as these it was necessary to pay attention to the atmosphere of the area. It was important to develop a sense of place and moment and to look beyond the shock and confusion, to see more than trauma and chaos to convey a sense of presence, of being there.
photographs concentrate on the atmospheric; they focus on the strange, unreal
and unbelievable environment of the
This is really war, like images of German cities at the end of World War II. Only the primordial forces of the firmament should be allowed to wreak such destruction, which then would be really God-given.
Sept. 13th - A large
building complex just across the West Side Highway from the
The passageways led through parts of still negotiable malls and arcades, previously swank and elegant. Now filthy, torn up and drenched in dirty water, they served as one of the main access routes for the volunteer workers from and to Ground Zero.
Getting through these passageways required a flashlight and some caution, since there was no electricity in the building complex. Site workers traversing the passages shouted warnings to each other, pointing out potential hazards on the dark and flooded floors, as well as twisted strips of framing material hanging from the ceilings. The smoke was also quite bad and made it difficult to see one's way; most people had either dust masks or had wet bandanas pulled up over their faces.
On the far side of the
The harbor itself was now used to offload barges ferrying emergency
supplies from across the river from nearby
The arcades of one of the harbor-side restaurants had been set up as one of these supply depots. Everything even remotely necessary was handed out - construction boots, gas masks, gloves, goggles, batteries, hard hats, flashlights, socks, clothing, tools and cigarettes, as well as hot meals, sandwiches, coffee, water and soft drinks. In a way it resembled a cookout at a military supply dump, except that the food, being donated by local restaurants, had nothing military about it. In fact, the spare ribs and barbecue chicken were highly praised by the site workers, who sat on the harbor-side stairs with their food-laden plates or stood clustered in groups discussing the operation, very garden party-like, belying the catastrophe just 100 yards away.
The night of the 13th September was also populated by medical
teams and emergency services. As activities were halted at Ground Zero, the
site workers headed towards the emergency shelters, some of them set up in the
nearby schools. One of them was in the
Several first aid stations were set up in the building, fortunately most of the conceivable scenarios had not materialized - there were very few wounded and injured to take care of, there were also few smoke-inhalation cases that had to be treated. A few workers had cuts and bruises, also a sprained ankle was bandaged, but mainly the medical staff was busy with applying eye drops to those workers who had spent too much time in the acrid smoke plume and who were suffering from minor eye irritations.
Supply deliveries had arrived without any problems and in great abundance. Several distribution points handed out fresh clothing, shoes, blankets, pillows and toiletries to the tired and weary. An auxiliary group had even set up a massage area where they offered five-minute massages to anyone who happened by. On the higher floors other field kitchens provided more hot food, coffee, and snacks. Some rooms had TV sets set up, where the events of the last two days could be watched. Late at night things settled down gradually and the auxiliary groups now had a peaceful moment for themselves too; many had been on duty for the last two days and now had the first moment to breathe easily, knowing that the immediate pressure was off.
One of the team members, Shelah Desmond, a young nurse from
Desmond pointed out her ambulance from the window, one of several
hundred lined up along the West Side Highway, a 2-mile long line of ambulances
reaching all the way up to the
A policeman also was keenly aware of place, time, and the larger picture when he asked for a spare roll of film. He had photographed all his police buddies with "the pile" in the background, but ran out of film before they could take a shot of him. So he needed a fresh roll, he explained, photos for the family and back at the station. This need to record and document that one had been there was equally important for two construction workers, who had overheard the policeman and who made fun over his "almost missed stardom". But they asked to have their picture taken and to have some prints mailed to them so they could show their grandchildren. They needed proof that they had worked at Ground Zero, for later times. A photograph would speak more than words.
A huge electrical rainstorm swept over Manhattan that night, heavy lightning illuminated the Zone in a most spectacular, apocalyptic and eerie way. Most of the workers had found their way to one of the shelters, while others still busy with moving heavy equipment were outfitted with raingear from the supply depots. The heavy downpour only stopped during the course of the following morning; much of the media had left, the spectators at the barriers had gone home. The rain extinguished many of the fires that had been burning inside the rubble; the smoke plume was greatly reduced. Most of the whitish dust had been washed away; the Zone appeared completely different than just 16 hours before.