“The Japanese photography is still going strong”
Editors’ booths, Grand Palais, November 9, 2016 © Jérémie Bouillon / Paris Photo
Hi Steve, you’ve just come back from ParisPhoto, how did it go?
I want to start off by saying that I was very happy to return to Paris. Last year’s edition was flawed and influenced by the terrible terrorist attacks. In hindsight, I think many of us experienced a desire to play down those days and to share those experiences.
Friedl Kubelka is one of the most known artists working with the problems of seriality and time in photography. She was born in 1946 in London, then moved with her family to Berlin and then to Vienna, where she became famous as an artist. Her works were obviously influenced by Viennese Actionism and feminism, but she refuses to consider them as part of these movements: “I have declared in front of many feminists that I am not one of them”. Her style is unique.
Some of her photographic works – such as the presented this summer in the Museum of Modern Art in Salzburg “Lore Bondy 1000 Gedanken” (One thousand changing thoughts of Lore Bondy), 1980 – consist of hundreds of photographs made in certain time intervals. The shooting conditions are similar and very simple – neutral background, close-up of the face, straight gaze to the camera, no artificial lighting. On the photos is depicted one model only – a brown-haired tired woman in her late 40s, who’s facial expression is slightly changing on the hundreds of “mugshot-style” passport-format photos orderly represented in big glass-boxes. She is the mother of the artist. The artist added to the installation a conceptual text describing the thoughts which the mother had during each shooting (the shootings are numbered in the boxes). Thoughts about pregnancy and children, work, vacations, love affairs and the meaning of life are, actually, hardly recognisable on the photos, but are immediately projected on them by the spectator after the reading of the explanation (and it is, of course, his/her own thoughts about the same things which are quite universal).
The seriality with its monotonous repeating representation of the same object allows the photographer to make hidden processes visible – such hardly visible ones as ageing or change of the facial expression while the person is thinking about something.
Photography is always a great medium for transmission of the idea of change, despite of its ability to freeze only one particular moment. The invisible changes always appear in between the photos, what is the result of comparison of two (or more) of them seen side by side. Is the representation of these changes going to be not only mechanic, but poetic as well depends on the author of the photographs. Regarding the work of Kubelka there is definitely the case.