San Diego. Since June, jdc Fine Art has been showing the exhibition Something in the earth here with contemporary topography by the two fine art photographers Guillermo Srodek-Hart from Argentina and Thomas Kellner from Germany.
The work of Thomas Kellner and Guillermo Srodek-Hart connects to a long-standing way of doing things called the typological tradition. This tradition was started by Hilla and Bernd Becher and carried on by other artists they influenced, like Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer, Thomas Ruff, and Thomas Struth. When we look at Kellner and Srodek-Hart's work together, we start thinking about how people's hopes and dreams are shown through buildings in today's world. Staying true to the tradition that inspired them, Kellner and Srodek-Hart use black and white pictures with low contrast. At first glance, their images may seem plain, cold, and lifeless, almost like shades of gray. However, their works manage to create a feeling of awe that saves them from being seen as just a formula. Both photographers rely on technology to evoke this emotional response in a contemporary topography.
Half-timbered Houses of the Siegen Industrial Area Today
In the series called "Half-timbered Houses of the Siegen Industrial Area Today | 2021," Kellner worked on images that he had previously created for the tourism office in his hometown. These images capture the remaining half-timbered houses in the Siegen Industrial Area. Unfortunately, most of these distinctive wooden structures have been destroyed either by war or due to progress and development. The ones associated with the Becher legacy are even rarer. The surviving half-timbered houses have suffered wear and tear over the years and have been modernized by the subsequent generations of working-class residents. These houses were originally constructed by immigrants who came to Siegen to work in the mines or blast furnace plants, making it the oldest iron-producing region in Europe. Kellner revisited his earlier photographs of the Becher homes and made alterations to them. He softened the spaces and removed most of the color, leaving only subtle hints of it. This transformation gives Kellner's work a magical and dreamlike quality, creating a sense of wonder and fantasy.
In his project titled "Rural Installations," Guillermo Srodek-Hart employs a combination of traditional and contemporary approaches to investigate spaces in the countryside of Argentina. He utilized a 4x5 camera to capture easily accessible areas, while a drone camera allowed him to explore spaces that would otherwise be inaccessible. Srodek-Hart's ethereal 4x5 images and hidden panoramic views primarily focus on three interconnected subjects: grain elevators, estates, and gas stations. These works possess a fantastic aesthetic characterized by soft edges and unconventional positioning, which adds a sense of dynamism and unease to the compositions. Srodek-Hart's frames simultaneously ground us in reality while also allowing us to float in a dreamlike state. These rural locations symbolize the promise of new horizons and a manifest destiny. Similar to the half-timbered houses, these structures were also constructed by immigrants and communicate meaning through their design. The estates overtly express individuality in intriguing ways, while the grain elevators, paradoxically designed to be "identical" for economic purposes, reveal their uniqueness through visible signs of usage.
Promise of socio-economic prosperity
What these artists' works reveal is a sense of ambition. The photographs capture signs of hope and success. People not only focus on making buildings functional, but they also infuse their architecture with dreams and aspirations. These emotions are noticeable regardless of how much time has passed since the buildings were constructed, especially when they fall into disrepair and abandonment. Kellner and Srodek-Hart's subjects represent the promise of socio-economic prosperity based on industrialization. These places were intended for workers and symbolized progress, offering the potential for upward mobility through labor and expressing individuality through design. Across different continents, these were the initial homes for the generation that built and lived in them. When viewed together, they serve as reminders of a struggle between independence and mass influence. These structures serve as containers for the fruits of production, and photographs of them embody the hope for industrial growth driven by workers, which has now been replaced by machines.
About the Artists:
Thomas Kellner (b. 1966 - , Bonn, DE): Thomas Kellner studied art, sociology, politics and economics at the University of Siegen. After receiving the Kodak Young Talent Award, Kellner determined to peruse life as an artist. He has since exhibited internationally in numerous solo and group exhibitions. Kellner’s works are in such prominent public collections as Fox Talbot Museum, George Eastman House, Library of Congress, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, The Art Institute of Chicago, among others. He has served on the German Society for Photography (DGPh) since 2003.
Guillermo Srodek – Hart: (b. 1977- , Buenos Aires, Argentina): Guillermo Srodek-Hart earned his BFA from Tufts University and MFA from Mass College of Art. His work has exhibited internationally, most notably in the 55th Venice Biennale. Samples of Srodek-Hart’s work may be found in the permanent collections of the Attleboro Museum of Art, Bruce Berman Collection, Danforth Museum of Art, Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts, Fundación Klemm, Fundación Petrobrás, Larriviére Collection, North Dakota Museum of Art, and Santa Barbara Museum of Art, among others.
Something in the Earth here. Photographs by Guillermo Srodek-Hart and Thomas Kellner
jdc Fine Art
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