O, collecting eggs despite the times (2017 – present)

O is a series of photographs and a documentary film based on Max Schönwetter’s egg-collection and correspondence.

I have just returned from an offensive against the Russians
in Northern Finland and have collected a few eggs there which seemed to
me to be interesting and which I am sending you herewith
(Schäfer to Schönwetter, 21 August 1941)

Despite the turmoil of the twentieth century, Max Schönwetter (1874-1961) devotes himself to his passion for the science of the egg: the oology. For more than sixty years, he works with great scrutiny on his life’s work: the scientific handbook of the egg. In his house, he collects 19.206 eggs of 3.839 bird species, carefully categorised in seven chests of drawers. Eggs with a vale brown colour, or dark grey eggs covered with black spots, or with a blue high gloss. 138 drawers filled with eggs: matte or shiny, white or coloured, spotted or speckled.

For the continuous expansion of his collection and the acquisition of knowledge about the egg, Schönwetter corresponds with ornithologists, oologists, expedition members, museum staff, collectors, and soldiers. It is a frantic collecting, ordering and systemizing, in spite of the chaos of times. The passages from the correspondence form a polyphonic collage of voices, with Schönwetter as soloist.: the ‘kammerspiel’ of Schönwetter’s small world contrasts with events on the world stage.