You'd think it's much bigger. The dinner table. The one that Jo Fischer carries around with him, taking photos of 1000 people sitting at it. Two lovers with a bottle of red and tiny plates fit around it. It's really that small.
Roughly three years ago, Jo Fischer picked up a camera and started to work as a professional photographer. The story behind his decision to get his first camera is a story of its own, one that I am sure will be told many times very soon, because Jo is bound to be one of the most talked about young photo artists coming from Germany.
He is already one of the most unique. And looking at the short time it took him to get to the burgeoning fame he already gained, it must be raw talent paired with a killer instinct. He doesn't have a master plan. Or a promotional scheme. Just a head full of big, fresh ideas, and a style that he could trademark by now.
One of these ideas that Jo started to realise in 2009 is the one with the dining table. Always using the same backdrop, the same light, the same distance and camera settings, Jo wants 1000 people to sit at his table - one after the other, of course.
He rarely shoots at his Berlin home or in the studio these days. Loading the table and his equipment into the back of his tattered Volvo, he travels around Germany, setting up the environment at different places. He's been to skate parks, custom car builder's workshops, at bars, or a homeless shelter. He has invitations to ship him and the table to rich and famous people in Florida and the Canary Islands, but also to a clinic for fire victims.
There are not many limitations to what Jo Fischer does.
There is this short, intimate moment with Jo, when you take place at the narrow end of the beautiful, wooden antique. Only few people act like a pro in front of a lens, so usually there is this awkward moment when you take your seat and try to look your best. But this only lasts for the blink of an eye. Jo kneels down at the other end of the table, looking into your eyes and talking to you as if you would have been buddies for years, and all anxiety evaporates instantly.
When he picks up the camera after this benign introduction, it's mostly just one to three shutter clicks, and it’s done. You get up again, feeling honored to have been invited to his table for a personal rendezvous. You just made a new friend, and so did Jo. Was that really a photo shooting?
It's like going to the dentist, but it didn't hurt at all even though your complete denture has been remodeled to superstar status.
Around 300 people have been mugged until now. Restless Jo continues to ask guests to take their place at the dinner table, and these days, the response is overwhelming. Being part of a beautiful project like this just became very desirable.
I only met Jo Fischer a couple of months ago. As a gallery owner, I was approached by friends to look at his work, but mainly to meet him in person. I hung out with Jo and his friends from the Custom Car workshop Style-Deluxe in Hamburg, where Oliver Kaps provides Jo a home away from home when he's in the city.
Surrounded by the most beautiful cars, be it just stripped down bodies or the polished diamond of a custom built Cadillac Coupe, with a bunch of mostly tattooed vintage-car-addicts from all kinds of professions, barbecuing over a makeshift oil drum-grill, Jo showed me his recent pictures on his laptop. And it took me less than a second to like this guy, another to be amazed by his photographic prowess, and just one more to ask him to show with me.
You should know that I have never exhibited a pure photographer in the seven years that heliumcowboy roams the plains of the art world. And even though I've worked myself professionally behind the camera for several years, and do love photography a lot, I didn't want to add this genre to the galleries' portfolio. Partly out of respect for the expertise of real photo galleries, but mainly because I never found anyone to strike me as challenging as Mr. Fischer.
I have been raving about Jo ever since. The exhibition will take place in late August, and while it will not yet be about the table (that project will take a little longer to complete), it is going to prove my point. People I've just recently invited to Jo's table and to share a few drinks in between the shooting, have gotten it already.
It's not just the idea and the table and the perfect, crisp and high-contrast black and white portraits.
It's all about Jo Fischer.
Another link: "Herr Fischer bittet zu Tisch", Jo Fischer's facebook group for the table-project.
Article previously published at small-things.eu.