Götz Schleser: Federal

Started in 2009, the extensive Federal project showcases portraits capturing the essence of current and former prime ministers. Götz Schleser’s remarkable body of work exposes the creative diversity achievable within the realm of portraiture.
Photographic portraits play a crucial role in the realm of politics, shaping appearances and self-presentation. The subjects face constant scrutiny, with their facial expressions, gestures, and posture meticulously observed – every detail matters. Consequently, the pursuit of the perfect image for every occasion is paramount. It’s no wonder that many images produced tend to be visually striking yet superficial, lacking the depth of real portraits. However, the Berlin-based photographer has adopted a distinctive approach. In his long-term project, he employs innovative staging and unconventional settings to craft distinctive portraits. Commencing in 2009 with an image of the head of the federal state of Thuringia, the series has evolved into a comprehensive gallery featuring current and former prime ministers, and even mayors from cities like Berlin, Bremen, and Hamburg.
Captured in black and white or color, the visual compositions are consistently individualistic and steer clear of superficial smoothness. In certain instances, the subjects are almost obscured within unconventional environments. Schleser employs a variety of techniques, photographing from intriguing perspectives, utilizing narrow excerpts, employing sharp contours or soft blurring, and alternating between small and large formats. The photographer’s fascination lies in capturing the person behind the public facade, revealing authenticity at the decisive moment of portraiture. The gallery’s surprising diversity underscores how Schleser’s inquisitiveness and charm prompted his subjects to navigate freely between posed images and genuine personalities. His approach deliberately disrupts the conventional polished look associated with such portraits, establishing unforeseen perspectives through a photographic dialogue.
The current exhibition showcases 32 portraits captured since 2009, featuring individuals such as Torsten Albig, Kurt Beck, Jens Böhrnsen, Andreas Bovenschulte, Franziska Giffey, Tobias Hans, Reiner Haseloff, Roland Koch, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Winfried Kretschmann, Armin Laschet, Bodo Ramelow, Anke Rehlinger, Boris Rhein, Jürgen Rüttgers, Erwin Sellering, Carsten Sieling, Kai Wegner, Dietmar Woidke, and Hendrik Wüst.

A portrait of Götz Schleser

About the Author

Götz Schleser is a photographer, campaign thinker, and unconventional artist who has worked as a freelance photographer in Berlin since 1998. Renowned for capturing images of people, he has had the privilege of photographing celebrities from the realms of politics, culture, and business on behalf of various clients. His extensive portfolio includes work for different federal states and ministries, political parties, as well as publications such as Spiegel and Die Zeit. Additionally, he has contributed to projects for the Cultural Foundation of the States, the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, Mercedes Benz, Sixt, the German Energy Agency, and many others.
In addition to his commissioned assignments, Götz places great importance on his freelance work. Since 2009, he has undertaken the task of portraying the incumbent prime ministers in their respective federal states. His dedication to this long-term project, titled “FÖDERAL,” will be showcased at the Leica Gallery in Wetzlar on February 24th. Each time, he faces the challenge of adapting to the unique personality of the individual, responding to their desires, and collaboratively implementing them. This daily challenge is a source of great enjoyment for Götz, as he relishes the opportunity to explore new places, meet new people, and engage his senses in the process of taking photographs.


Götz Schleser : Federal
02/02/2024 – 12/05/2024
Leica Gallery Wetzlar


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