A Kind of Absence

Text & photos Dirk H. Wilms


German photographer and visual artist Dirk H. Wilms focuses on self-portraits since 2001, the year he received his HIV diagnosis. After the diagnosis he barely left his house for almost four years. He thought everyone would know immediately he carried the virus in him. Fear of being forgotten got him to document his life; his awes and physical decline. 


Curtain # 1 
This image shows a certain kind of self-imposed isolation. I like to be alone. And I like to work alone in my studio. In this solitude I have the feeling of absolute control. During these moments, I realize that this is my place in the world.

Flower in Hand
I decided to start documenting my life as an art form in 2001, when the first traces of HIV became visible. The reason why I almost always cover my face in the photographs.

The Leaf 
This is one of my most personal pictures. Anything I could say about it would distort it.

The Rubber Balloon 
My own body is always the starting point of my productions. Yet in this case, it was the beautiful white Amaryllis from a friend of mine. I love flowers, and I love balloons.

Bent XX, The Diver 
To take such pictures give me simple joy. I don’t analyze while working, don’t think about it, don’t have any message.




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