Hildegard Ochse was not interested in beauty; she liked the authentic. She loved and hated Berlin, saying it was beautiful and ugly at the same time, but above all Berlin was vivid and vibrant to her. “We have many problems, but don’t hide them behind a beautiful facade as elsewhere,” she wrote in 1985 about the city in which she lived in from 1973 on until her death in 1997. Her photographic series are always symbolic of larger context. The images of people on the streets of Berlin represent isolation, harshness and despair as a partial aspect of urban culture.
Hildegard Ochse was 43 years old when she opted for a professional career as a photographer. From 1975 on she attended photography courses, later at the famous “Werkstatt für Photographie” in Berlin-Kreuzberg, founded by Michael Schmidt. She took part in workshops of renowned American photographers, including Lewis Baltz, Ralph Gibson and Larry Fink. In this time the artistic value of photography changed, particularly after 1977 photographic works were exhibited extensively at the Kassel art exhibition documenta 6.
From 1981 on Hildegard Ochse photographed the series Großstadtkirchen (Churches of the City) for the Herder publishing house or the staff of KPM (Royal Porcelain Factory) in Berlin. The exhibition Between Our Own Viepoint and Authentic Reality now focuses on the development of her visual language as a photographer. The exhibition is dedicated to her work that has arisen independently of commercial contracts, including the series Stadtvegetation (urban vegetation), Gastland Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Host country Federal Republic of Germany), Aspetti di Berlino (aspects of Berlin) or Derental. The photographic works of Hildegard Ochse reflect social structures and are symbols of social or cultural conditions—photographed in black and white, without distortion and without unusual image sections.
Hildegard Ochse was concerned with the the depiction of authentic reality and everyday life. She was aware that photographs are not just a reflection of world, but create their own content, aesthetics and new ways of seeing as well as interpretations of reality. With her attitude towards photography, her selection of themes and her visual language she works in the tradition of Autorenfotografie. The renowned German art historian and curator Klaus Honnef coined the term in the 1970s. It refers to photographers that reflect their own view of reality according to strictly documentary visual language in order to create an authentic reality in the photo. About the works of Hildegard Ochse Klaus Honnef wrote to the curator of the exhibition, Tina Sauerlaender, “My thoughts and definitions of Autorenfotografie apply to the work of photographer Hildegard Ochse more than to the works of so called Kunstfotografie (artistic photography), which has embraced my concept completely.”