Halm Schudel, Anna

Anna Halm Schudel, Zurich, Switzerland

Trained as a photographer at the School of Applied Arts, Vevey, Switzerland, and the College of Art and Design, Birmingham, England. Subsequently, 5 years assistant to the Zurich photographer René Groebli. Since 1973 independent artist and photographer in Zurich.

Annas Flowers

My dreams are nightmares. Since more than 40 years the same dream has returned in thousands of variations. I dream of suffering flowers, they need water and light urgently, otherwise they will die. These flowers appear in vases and pots, in flowershops, in gardens, on fields, in woods, on bushes and trees, as bouquets, in baskets, as decorations, in wintergardens and livingrooms. They suffer in the dark and are almost dead, because of lack of water. I should save their lives, but every time an obstacle prevents me of giving  them the necessary water and light.  So in daylife I am magnetically attracted by blooming flowers. I have to put them in the proper light and immortalize them by photography.    Anna Halm Schudel, March 2010

Why flowers

Why flowers of all things, I am asked after someone inquires about my photographic subject. Unlike some questioners, I can't say that my youth was happy, it was decidedly sad, I prayed "dear God, let me die" every night. Even as a young adult woman I thought about suicide incessantly, living inside myself was unbearable. That's also when these dreams began, which have been recurring ever since, for more than 40 years. I dream of flowers, mostly they are withered, sloppy, scrawny, only a puny remnant of life is left to them. A garden has degenerated into a desert, tiny traces of green suggest life, the houseplants in dried out pots stretch their bare branches towards me, a single green leaf signals life. I buy flowers but forget to put them in water, flowers are given to me, again something prevents me from setting them. Flowering hedges wither, flower meadows have become rubble heaps. And always I wake up before I could give water to these suffering plants. So flowers have become my theme, first I was magically attracted to images of blooming flowers. Then I began to take pictures of blooming flowers myself. And if a picture seemed successful to me, I was happy. I strove for this state of happiness, wanted to give it duration and thus fight against the inner sadness and began to photograph my first large flower series "365 flowers", for which I photographed a flower every day for a year with the legendary Polaroid SX70 film. I saw the image immediately, which was great for me. Then I looked for a new form of my flower image and after several failed attempts I found my solution in the digital camera, again I saw the image immediately. Now it became my concern to show the eroticism, the impetuous, shameless life of flowers. As a conscientious woman, I worked on this theme for four years, and still it seems to me not exhausted. Whenever I hear on the radio about all these worldwide disasters, I want to share, there is also beautiful, joyful, positive, want to fill the other side of the scale.

These erotic flowers are standing around in my studio (all deep in water) slowly wilting away. Looking at them daily, I began to discover the grace of the wilted flowers, which led to the series with the withered tulips. I circle around the flowers, looking at them, looking for the angle and perspective, thinking about the light, then I photograph them, sometimes a single image takes several hours. I do not change the flowers, I want to prove to the world and to myself that life is more beautiful than it seems.

Never Ending Journey

"Anna Halm Schudel's series of works "The Endless Journey" differs strikingly from conventional travel photography: the photographer is not drawn to exotic sights or spectacular pilgrimage sites; neither sightseeing nor the demand for comprehensive documentation of an unknown stretch of land put pressure on the project. The artist's routes through France, Germany and Switzerland are determined by the geography of her everyday life. She allows the "genius loci" to emerge only through her work, by endowing inconspicuous spots on the edge of the highway with unexpected eternity. On the road from her home in Horgen on Lake Zurich to a gallery in another country or a vacation destination, Anna Halm Schudel keeps her camera at the ready in the passenger seat of the car, usually dressed in black to avoid the reflection in the closed car window. "I am interested in how restriction can have a positive effect on my work," says the artist, "in my work I am restricted both by the car window and by the speed of the moving car - the motif, light, framing and moment are determined from the outside."

What do we see? Dark silhouettes of trees in a wading sea of grass; paths connecting the foreground to the horizon or lost behind a vague expanse of color; crooked fences and their double of shadows; avenues in the distance or enveloping us; the last sun on the Gotthard Pass road before the big snow arrives; disheveled trees on the coast of Hyres; the banal props of road traffic - posts, signs, markers and, again and again, the guardrail that becomes a guardrail of the viewer's perception; Parts of the frame formed by the car, such as the side mirror; the play of different shades of green and the colors of the snow; lush meadows that tremble as if they were a mirage in the Sahara; we smell the rain on the shiny roads, we think we can grasp the mist between the fruit trees with our hands; the geometry of nature and architecture, halfway between impressionist and abstract painting. Perhaps the grandiose ocean wave in three stages or the atmospheric pictures of Lake Geneva remind us of the romantic-sublime paintings of Caspar David Friedrich. Otherwise, however, the sky is much less high, the camera's gaze already starts at the roadside and dives deep into the landscape."

From a text by Michael Pfister, philosopher and publicist, Küsnacht, CH.

Selfportraits

Collections

Museum for Arts and Crafts Hamburg
Polaroid Collection
Fotostiftung Switzerland, Winterthur
City of Biel
Fonds Cantonal d'Arts Visuels, Geneva
City of Nyon, Wadt
Interartes Zurich
Collection Thomas Kellner, Siegen

Books

Anna Halm Schudel
The never-ending journey
2003 Verlag Scheidegger & Spiess AG, Zürich
ISBN  3-85881-150-5

Anna Halm Schudel
The never-ending journey II
Galerie von Braunbehrens München 2005
ISBN 3-922268-39-0

Faszination Blüte
365 Fotos von Anna Halm Schudel
DVA Verlag München 2006
ISBN 10:3-421-03562-8

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