In 1972 at documenta 5 the photo journalist Brigitte Hellgoth (born 1932) photographed the installation "Five Car Stud" by Edward Kienholz (1927-1994). It was located in an air dome behind the Neue Galerie (Schöne Aussicht). Kienholz created an enclosed space that on entering turned out to be a claustrophobic time capsule plunging the audience into a nightmarish situation of extreme violence.


The visitors entered a dark room in which their feet sank into a soft clay ground. Only a few steps further they quickly became accomplices or at least bystanders in the staging of an act of violence. The headlights of five vehicles illuminated the scenery. A group of white men with fearsome masks abused an African American lying on the ground.


"Five Car Stud" is considered to be one of the most important works by the American artist. The cruelties and tragedies of life, the conditions of loneliness and triviality are themes that Kienholz processed in many of his works. The relevance of this work refers to America's historical roots and reflects on the current violence by which a mob always perpetrates against individuals be it for political, ethnical, religious or sexual reasons.


In her series of photographs for "Five Car Stud" Hellgoth managed to elevate the static oppressive scenery of Kienholz's installation in combination with the actions of the audience in it to an almost unbearable dynamic experience. The tableau vehemently completes its development as a harsh snapshot of society, based on Kienholz’s art piece masterfully completed by Hellgoth.


Hellgoth’s photo collection is part of the image collections which can be used for research on site or ordered digitally.


Michael Gärtner and Alexander Zeisberg