Apocalypse

The first time I moved to New York, in the 1990s, the skyscrapers fascinated me. As symbols of power and money they force you to look upwards and to feel small. But at rainy days they fall down into street puddles. I took a few pictures of these reflections, in black and white.

When I moved to New York a second time, in 2014, I again started taking puddle pictures, this time in color – which adds an apocalyptic dimension.

If you take a close look at the pictures, they are like windows into another world, with eerie colors, shapes and distortions, caused by debris, mud, leaves, undercoating, dirt and wind. Even the reflected persons seem to stem from some other place and some other age. In these pictures New York is set on fire, with buildings and trees in flames, distorted, falling apart or being flooded. Memories of hurricane Sandy or 9/11 come to mind, when I walked downtown Manhattan, with my three year old son in the buggy. This experience was an important inspiration for the pictures.

In the future all types of disasters are possible: a renewed cold war with atomic threats, terror attacks or various environmental debacles.

Veröffentlicht unter Photo

Journalism

Hans Weiss´ journalistic work often provoked heated public debates, sometimes also lawsuits and legislative changes. Here are some of his most outstanding publications:

Austria – tax heaven for multinational companies. In February 2018 Hans Weiss published a series of three articles in the German weekly paper „Die Zeit“, about the tax evading tricks of multinational companies. Österreich – Steueroase für Konzerne, Heimat großer Steuersparer, Fast zum Nulltarif

The bragger. An award-winning investigation about the most prominent German beauty surgeon, in DER SPIEGEL, 40/2011. This story was published in cooperation with my colleague Markus Grill.

Tax holidays for the fattest Austrian company. In 2010 Hans Weiss exposed, that the largest Austrian company Raiffeisen paid almost no taxes. From 2006 to 2008 the Raiffeisen-Banks alone made a profit of 1,9 billion Euros – and paid only 19 million Euros in taxes. This amounts to a tax rate of one percent, whereas the official tax rate is 25 percent.

The nursing chancellor. In 2006 Hans Weiss uncovered the fact that the family of the Austrian chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel employed two illegal geriatric nurses from Slovakia – for 2 Euros per hour. As a consequence his party ÖVP lost the following elections.

Take 2, pay 1. Based on classified documents from pharmaceutical companies, Hans Weiss disclosed a widespread corruption scheme between Austrian doctors and pharmaceutical companies. He gave an interview for Austrian Radio (ORF1), which had a huge impact and led to legislative changes in Austria.

Alternative medicine in test. This was a cover story for the German magazine stern, in cooperation with Krista Federspiel. Their conclusion, after visits to several prominent alternative doctors: You cannot trust them – they are all completely unreliable miracle healers. (Wunderheiler und Krankbeter – Alternativmedizin im Test, in: stern, 28.11.1991)

Resistance against the Nazis. This was a story about Hans Weiss´ family to commemorate the 40th anniversary of liberation from the Nazi regime. (Verfolgung und Widerstand in Vorarlberg, in profil Nr. 21, 20. Mai 1985)

In the 1980´s Hans Weiss made a number of sensational documentaries for Austrian TV (ORF) and wrote several cover stories for the Austrian magazine profil. Since then he occasionally worked as a freelancer for magazines like transatlantic, Falter, flair, TAZ, DER SPIEGEL, stern, DIE ZEIT, for the Austrian radio station ORF and the hugely successful German TV series “Die Schwarzwaldklinik”. He also had a lecturing assignment at the University in Vienna.

Stolen moments

Every camera has a powerful presence. When there is no camera around, people look free. When you point on someone with a camera, most people look tense, embarrassed, restrained and mannered.

In this project I was interested in catching moments when my photographic subjects didn´t feel the presence of the camera.

Nobody knew that I was taking a picture. My photographic subjects were on the street – a public space – and they didn´t recognize me as a photographer. I was an invisible “thieve”. To catch the moment, I held the camera at thigh level and did not look at the screen or through the viewfinder.

I tried to capture a solitary moment of focused introspection. All photographic subjects looked like they were heading for a certain destination. Which one? I didn´t know! It is up to the viewer to speculate about that.

Veröffentlicht unter Photo

My grandmother´s hat

I was only half a year old, when my grandmother died. I know her only through the stories my mother told me. And I own her black, conical shaped hat.

My grandmother spent all her life in a small peasant village in Austria, but she always dreamed of doing long journeys to far-off places like America or Venice.

One day, when I was in this city of dreams, suddenly her hat appeared – swung on the waves in front of Piazza San Marco and disappeared. Later I saw the hat on a Gondola traversing the Canale Grande, near the fish market. And in the afternoon the hat fell down from the sky, a few steps from Ponte Rialto.

Since this Venice trip the hat seems to follow me. It appeared at numerous places and wherever I see it, I take pictures.

Veröffentlicht unter Photo

My father´s workshop

My father died at the age of 88, in 2002. With the exception of the Second World War he spent all his time in a remote village in Austria, near the Swiss border. He ran a small workshop as a plumber and was very good as a craftsman, but very bad as a businessman.

He was a shy person, interested in poetry and photography and somehow he didn´t really fit into the harsh and down to earth life of a farming village. When he was young, he dreamed of becoming a car mechanic, but his father wouldn´t allow it. So he became a plumber like his father. The same career decision was foreseen for me. But I took another direction.

During childhood I often was ordered to give my father a helping hand in his workshop. So I know all the tools and work pieces very well. My father´s workshop still exists, almost unchanged. Some time ago I wanted to document it, because there are plans to sell the house with all the stuff inside, and all things will vanish. The pictures in this series are a mixture of my fathers´ photographs and mine.

Veröffentlicht unter Photo

My mother´s world

She is 90 and lives alone in her own large house with 14 rooms. She is still taking care of herself, cooking, doing her laundry and organizing additional help. Although she is wearing strong glasses, her vision is blurred and almost entirely without color. For reading she needs a strong magnifying glass.

Because she is a great storyteller and knows a great many stories about life in the village, many people are visiting her, especially younger ones.

When there is nice weather, she loves to sit on her balcony, watching and listening the traffic on the street. Passing pedestrians wave and greet her: “Hello Paulina!” Then she asks: “Who are you? You know, I cannot see very well, I cannot recognize you?” Then people tell their names and she get´s all the news and rumors – of the village and of the world.

To find out how her world looks like – blurred and almost without color -, I used my camera.

Veröffentlicht unter Photo

New York Graffiti

Graffiti are probably the oldest form of art – dating back almost 4000 years to Old Egypt -, and nowadays they are one of the most visible expressions of contemporary youth culture. You can find them all over the world, even in the remotest places.

They are everywhere, on walls, cars, windows, rooftops, inside restrooms, on toilets, sinks, doors, subways, ads, tiles, plants, bodies, bridges, traffic signs, benches.

One of the hotspots of the NY Graffiti culture is in Bushwick/ Brooklyn. In 2014 and 2015 I regularly went there to take pictures of the ever-changing scene. Nothing lasts for long. What is in today is gone tomorrow. There are always newcomers, who spray over yesterdays old stuff.

Veröffentlicht unter Photo

New York Winter

Snowfall in New York is a great experience, especially when you use a public bus. Because of the wet windows, caused by snow and condensation water, you get a very different picture of the city. Everything gets blurred and distorted and looks funny or weird or terrifying – depending on the mood you are in.

Colors like the blue light of police cars or the red ones of ambulances can spread all over the window, changing the perception of streets, buildings and people. It looks like being in a dream or phantasy or movie.

Veröffentlicht unter Photo