Ilka Hartmann (b. 1942)
Raising the Barn Door
Ilka Hartmann, a resident of Bolinas for more than fifty years, participated in and documented a significant time in the evolution of Bolinas. This iconic photograph provides a window into the remarkable story of young counter-culture activists and community builders in Bolinas, who brought pivotal change to the town’s trajectory—away from massive development and toward environmentally sound choices that protected the small town lifestyle.
In this image neighbors and friends work together to build a common-use structure made of recycled materials. The moment personifies the shared creativity, determination, and cooperation of that era. This photograph is the cover image of the 1978 book The Town That Fought To Save Itself, published by Random House, and created by Orville Schell and Ilka Hartmann.
Born in Germany during WWII, Hartmann studied at universities in Berlin and Hamburg before arriving at University of California Berkeley in 1967, where she earned an MA in German literature. It was a time when America’s social conscience was being torn awake by the struggle for civil rights and the Vietnam War. Hartmann turned to photography and focused her lens on the emotion and power of activism for social justice. Her photographs are published internationally, and featured in exhibitions, films, books, public art, and museums. Stanford University acquired her archive. Hartmann also taught at the Graduate School of Fine Arts in West Berlin, and taught Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Sonoma State University for 14 years. Her work was presented in a solo exhibition at Bolinas Museum in 2010.