Friday, 10 August 2012

Postcard of the Day No. 56, Dieringhausen

Postcard dealers are of necessity, dedicated classifiers and organisers, with every card in its rightful place. But most will offer a box or two of unsorted low value cards and these are my favourite hunting grounds. This is where images like this often turn up. If it was filed under Germany that somehow seems inadequate but nobody has a category entitled Enigmatic Images of People Climbing – thus it can be found languishing among the unloved and unsorted. This card demands an explanatory narrative but the few facts we have don’t easily resolve themselves. Is there a relationship between the two figures? The climbing man in a cap seems to be in a hurry – is he in pursuit? If so, his gaze is directed elsewhere than at his quarry. The occupant of the platform poses rigidly by the safety rail and exhibits no concern about the approaching figure. Two bonus cards show the ascent of the Great Pyramid. On the left visitors from the lands of the infidel are offered assistance by the indigenous population while on the right a group of locals show (as the caption puts it) how easy it is to ascend. Both are typical examples of the early postcard photographer placing the figures in position as if in a theatrical tableau. 

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