Claudia Faehrenkemper: Armor
September 19-25, 2016
Pingyao International Photography Festival, Pingyao, Peoples Republic of China
curated by Thomas Kellner
The "ARMOR" series deals with the representative parade and tournament suits of armor, which were made especially for emperors, kings and great generals from the 15th to the 17th centuries and which are found in important armor collections worldwide.
I was just as much fascinated by the form, features and emblems of the armor as by the idea that historical figures in person had worn their suits of armor as a protective shell. The images are all bust portraits since my intention was to "portray" the sculptural and material presence of the suit of armor and as such, the historical figure in absentia. While I was photographing, each long-gone bearer appeared before my eyes as a human character. It was the way I concentrated on portraying his bust, i.e. the choice of perspective, which defined the focus (the direction he was gazing in) and the tilt of his helmet. A character from the past was never just a lifeless shell. In so doing, the bust portraits of the men in armor not only allow us to look back on past human lives, but also give us a chance to reflect on our current lives. The occasional reminders of science fiction sometimes even give us a premonition of the vague future.
"ARMOR" relates faith, love and hope to us. It tells us of the vulnerability and also of the power and wealth. The suits of armor demonstrate unusual craftsmanship and great efforts. There were different designs that show how styles changed as time went along. What will we as human beings leave behind in our artefacts and will they outlast us in a tangible form? What will be our cultural, spiritual and emotional heritage in the ages to come? In 2010, the growing threat of violence and terror worldwide inspired my project on suits of armor and knights.
Claudia Fährenkemper's documentary conceptual approach, which reflects the influence of her mentors Bernd and Hilla Becher, and the "magical realism" of her images embody the photographic tradition of the New Objectivity movement. Her photo-sculptural work is positioned between esthetics and science.
In her photographic long-term series, Ms. Fährenkemper explores the extreme dimensions of the giant machinery used in brown coal surface mining, the microcosm of nature (insects, plant seed, crystals, amphibian larvae and plankton) and the elaborate craftsmanship of suits of armor. She sets our increasingly virtually structured world against a strong physical presence in her black-and-white photographs rich in detail.
Ms. Fährenkemper's images alternate between the beauty and filigree work of forms and structures including their uncanniness. For her, photography is a contemporary, precise medium to sound out a deeper definition of the world. Her images pose questions about our lives and survival on this planet.
Kellner, T., 2016. Claudia Fährenkemper: Armor. China Pingyao Internationlal Photography Festival 2016/16, 2016 (16)
Award of Excellence for Claudia Faehrenkemper at the Pingyao International Photography Festival 2016
Thank you to Mr. Zhang Guotian , his international team, to Amy, andd to Claudia Faehrenkemper for making this exhibition possible.