This September sees the launch of More Women in Trees, the second volume of a successful little publication, which conquered the international book market in 2016 with tongue firmly in cheek.
The sequel is in no way inferior to its predecessor: the unique collection of historical amateur photographs, assembled and curated by the artist Jochen Raiß, feature a phenomenon that is presented in both a humorous and loving manner: young women posing in trees.
It all started with a coincidence. Raiß, who practices his profession of photo editor so passionately that he even spends most of his free time hunting for good pictures, happened to find a picture of a woman in a tree twenty-five years ago at a flea market in Frankfurt. It put him in a good mood right away. He bought it, used it for a while as a bookmark, and felt cheerful every time he saw it: "The woman in it just looked so happy."
Then, during another one of his forays through junk shops and flea markets, he spotted another picture of a woman in a tree. And then another one. Ever since, he has looked deliberately for this motif whenever he finds boxes full of old, discarded photographs. In the meanwhile his collection of women in trees, which he keeps in old wooden crates, numbers 140.
Where and how most of these black-and-white photographs were taken remains unknown. Every once in a while a year is handwritten on the reverse, sometimes along with a first name, but nothing else hints at the identity of the women depicted. "I love pictures that aren’t perfect, that I know nothing about. Then, stories immediately being developing in my mind," says Raiß.
In what is now the second volume, More Women in Trees, women pose athletically in bathing suits, or as if they are riding, wearing cowboy hats; sometimes they are sipping a bottle of beer, or are casually enthroned overlooking the sea—each photograph has its own look and story awaiting discovery. Raiß has already gone through many different kinds of possible interpretations: "For me, the women happen to be taking a Sunday walk with their partners," he explains. "They are well dressed, look happy, and some of them seem to be really in love. These are young people who went off with a camera, clowned around, and captured their happiness in a snapshot."