Hauptsache Arbeit (Main thing: Work)

“Journalists and photographers have an unspoken obligation to speak up through their work” (Photo Presse 65 (4) 2010, S. 16), Joachim Giesel said about the photo series Hauptsache Arbeit (Main thing: work). “Unemployment is first and foremost a human fate” (Photo Presse 65 (4) 2010, S. 16) and is treated as such in Giesels photos. In view of the economic crisis in 2008, the photographer contacted 60 people from Hanover through the municipal employment promotion office in Hölderlinstrasse, most of whom had lost their jobs due to personal strokes of fate and were now pursuing other activities, e.g. one-euro jobs in construction, as removal helpers, in gardening, or job creation contracts.

Giesel showed the individuals in their new work environment. They look calmly into the camera and contributed a short personal commentary on themselves and their situation, which can be read below the exhibited photographs.

In a similar way, August Sander took photographs at the time of the economic crisis in 1929, for example, under the titles: Cigarette Salesman, Henchman, Cleaning Woman, Laundress, Varnish Worker, Fair Worker, Pastry Chef, or Road Worker in the Ruhr area (West Germany).

Giesel’s motifs meet the viewer with a direct gaze at eye level. “Dignity is not dependent on wages” (Sedelies, 2010 n. p.), says Joachim Giesel, who wanted his volunteer work to contribute to “a ‘new way of thinking’ about the subject of work and to make the discussion about it a main issue” (Sedelies, 2010 n. p.).


2010 Hannover, Bürgersaal Neues Rathaus: Hauptsache Arbeit

2010 Hannover, BBS-Schule Expo-Plaza 10: Hauptsache Arbeit

o.A. (2010): Hauptsache Arbeit. Hg. v. Photo Presse Online News.

o.A. (2010): Hauptsache Arbeit – der Arbeitslosigkeit ein Gesicht geben. Portraitfotografie. In: Photo Presse 65 (4), S. 16–17.

o.A. (2010): Blattkritik. Ein Tagelöhner sagt, was in der Zeitung stehen sollte. In: Augsburger Allgemeine Sonntagsblatt, 06.02.2010 (Nr. 30), o.S.

Sedelies, Jan (2010): Würde ist nicht lohnabhängig. Der Porträtfotograf Joachim Giesel gibt Arbeitslosen ein Gesicht. In: Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung, 06.01.2010 (Nr. 4).