At the end of 2006, about a hundred of my colleagues and friends from all over the world, whom I have met over the last two years, were once again invited to participate in this project. They are mostly young photographers I have encountered at festivals, art fairs and galleries. Many have been close friends for a long while. 69 photographers with more than two hundred works have applied for participation. The aim of the project is to build a network among colleagues and to promote support one another. An expert jury consisting of one journalist (Thomas Gerwers, PROFIFOTO), two gallerists (Nicole Stanner, Galerie f 5.6, Munich; Burkhard Arnold, in focus, Cologne) and one art historian (Diana Edkins, Aperture Foundation, New York) have collaborated with me in the selection of works to be exhibited.
The exhibition does not follow any particular theme, even if there my own and other's interests recognizably overlap. However, the exhibited works display the variety of photographic approaches developing simultaneously to my own work. I have I have repeatedly considered setting a theme for this exhibition, but the contemplation of the submitted and selected work seems more exciting to me and more transparently shows the viewpoint of the individual photographers, rather than prioritizing any curatorial will.
I met most of them last year at FotoFest Houston. What was almost completely missing from last year's selection is suddenly present again: still lifes and landscapes, alongside people-centred shots. The world polarizes and unites in this selection. On the one hand, images such as a Japanese landscape by Trudy Lee Cohen or the Gandhi Meditation Park by Felicia Murray, the bedroom of Lena Tsakmaki or the gas station by Brad Temkin radiate a tranquility; on the other hand, this tranquility contrasts with an impoverished, partially destroyed world, as in the work of Wolfgang Müller, Georgia Krawiec and Rania Matar. Between wilted tulips by Anna Halm-Schudel, a graceful Catleya by Frazier King, and the striptease dancer by Charise Isis floating on the pole with spread legs, a smiling tension builds up that does not make us sad, but, as in Rania Matar's work, shows hope and joie de vivre within a threatened environment destroyed by war. The playing child, stretching his arms out to us, becomes practically the central figure.
Patience and play mean experimentation and discipline to the dedicated artist, resulting in a completely unique visual language or pictorial idea. Robert Bowen creates collages with found postcards into new fabulous imagery, Gregory Scott uses painted images as disconcerting photographed collages within reality. His legs dipped in water, while Elizabeth Siegfried's legs float in it. Such analogies are not intentional in a juried selection, but arise through chance and observation. Kevin O'Connell's dyptiches address his own experience observing the landscape and allow the viewer to recreate that experience. Masaki Hirano breaks down giant trees into slices of photographic paper, a tray which leads the viewer into ying-yang-like meditation. Brad Carlile takes a different approach to landscape. He experiments with breaking down light into its spectral colors, creating whimsical trees and dreamscapes.
The nightmare of war appears to be over, calm, sobriety, contemplation have returned, and yet there are stories that would make a nightmare for anyone. EJ Major takes hold of one such story, originally documented by portraits of the British police of a female offender who was repeatedly taken in over the span of twenty years and whose photos keep a record of both her career as a criminal and of her physical decay. EJ Major took this series as an opportunity to expose herself to this process of decay. But not on the streets, but purely in the photo booth and with Photoshop. The result is an impressive series that compares the decay in itself with the illusions created by a medium.
The viewer must have some patience, find some peace in order to discover the hope that these photographers present us with.
photographers:network, selection 2007
June 23 to July 1 2007
Opening: June 23, 3pm
Studio Thomas Kellner
Friedrichstrasse 42; D-57072 Siegen; Germany; www.thomaskellner.com
Opening hours: Sat/Sun: 3 to 7pm and by appointment.