Simon Menner is a widely known photographer, who is based in Berlin, Germany. Menner has been taking photographs since he was young and even went to school for photography at an art school in Berlin. Since then, he has put out dozens of projects, many of which have given him worldwide recognition. Menner has become well known for not necessarily taking images, but rather re-working old photographs to shed light on a different way of looking at the photo, from a different perspective.
“Top Secret” was a novel that Menner released back in 2013, that began his work with photography in war, and how images from past wars can be reworked to become relevant again. Menner took photos from the Secret Stasi archives and manipulated them into something completely new, all centering around the idea of perception.
“I was fascinated by these images. The Secret Stasi had all their workers dressed in undercover outfits, and when I saw them I thought to myself ‘these people don’t look inconspicuous at all, they are clearly costumes’. Then I thought of how brilliant that was. The costumes were obviously fake, people could spot a Stasi from a mile away, causing their behavior to change with that knowledge. That is how I got the idea of perception, and turning these images into something new. Making the people see something new,” Menner said.
It was this photography project that put Menner’s name on the map, and since then, he has put out even larger projects. In 2013, Menner began ‘Camouflage,’ where he worked with the German Army and its snipers to create images that told a story about war, and our idea of it.
In the images from this collection, Menner went to countries like Germany, Latvia, and Lithuania to capture landscape photographs, all with a hidden sniper buried in the image. It is tricky to find the sniper, but Menner intended for that, to hint at a deeper meaning behind the images in this collection.
“In the Camouflage images, a viewer usually has a very hard time finding the sniper. Sometimes, they look at me and point to a spot in the image, claiming they’ve found it, when really they did not. Whether or not they see the sniper, a viewer trusts me that it is there somewhere, and they take in the image an entirely different way than they would if I told them it was just a picture of Lithuanian mountains. The idea that the most powerful part of the image is not even truly seen is what fascinates me the most,” Menner said.
Menner’s ‘Camouflage‘ collection is currently on display at the Anchorage Museum, and while he was in Anchorage, Menner spoke about his photography at the Museum and UAA. Photography can mean so much more than simply taking images, editing them, and putting them on display. They can speak truths, state opinions, and even tell stories. These are ideals that Menner bases his photography off of, which is part of what makes his work so unique and well known.
Thomas Gokey is the public relations and digital engagement manager at the Anchorage Museum, and was able to share a few words on his thoughts on Menner’s work, and what it was like to feature his work on display.
“It is a pleasure to feature Simon Menner’s work at the museum this month. He is incredibly talented, and we are lucky to hear what he has to say on the profession. Menner has a different way of going about photography, and I believe that it is one any aspiring photographer, or artist in general, should hear,” Gokey said.
Simon Menner is a talented photographer, and it is incredible to see his images speak words and ideas without truly even saying anything. Menner’s approach at this field of work is one that many do not think of, which is what make’s his images stand out from the rest. While Menner may be good at hiding snipers in his images, the message these photos send is one that cannot go unheard.