Nicholas Albrecht


Piotr Zbierski

Artist Feature

Every week an artist is featured whose single image was published by Der Greif. The Feature shows the image in the original context of the series.

Benedetta Panisson - People do Water (2013 – in progress)

Feb 11, 2015

»People do water« is an observation of people mating with the sea, an archive of people copulating with water. In physiology a human body consits of around 70% water, a newborn of 75%, brain and heart of 75 %. Water is covering 70,8% of the earth's surface. The earth and the human body both have quite the same percentage of water. The act of mating with a natural element (in this case, water) as demonstration of the inseparability of beings: different living beings containing each others's elements. Re-interpreting this physiological process as a sensual physical union.

Artist Blog

The blog of Der Greif is written entirely by the artists who have been invited to doing an Artist-Feature. Every week, we have a different author.

Fruit of the forest

Feb 18, 2015 - Benedetta Panisson

I would like to take a look with you at »Fruit of the Forest«, a multidisciplinary, non-periodical publication and a place for aesthetic exercises between art and design. Contemporary art, radical design, unconventional fashion, and things that cross the line. Cities, people, interactions between design, architecture, fashion, art and society. Nature and experimantation, reflecting changes in our way of feeling. Founded in Miami with a nomadic approach, »Fruit of the Forest« is a magazine without an office, its collaborators can be found here and there where ideas are taking place.

I Cotroneo Collection – A dialogue with Tommaso Cotroneo

Feb 17, 2015 - Benedetta Panisson

A couple of months ago, thanks to Nur Elektra el Shami and Irina Turcan (Art:I:curate), I met a special man in London, Tommaso Cotroneo. We talked about photography, about waves, about the sensuality of the sea, and the unconditional attraction of men for it. Cotroneo's family, years after years, has collected and curated one of the most important Italian collections of international artists, especially based on photography. It's an honour for me to have the chance to share with you and Der Greif the possibility to spy a little part of their collection and to ask some questions to Tommaso. B.: Tommaso, please, in your words, can you describe to me – without showing it and without mentioning the artist – which is your favourite photograph from your collection? T.: A Polaroid. Shapes on water. On the back, poetry and random memories of a week spent with some of my favorite people. We'll talk about serious stuff later. At heart though, the thing I am most grateful for is the privilege of having grown up with, sharing time with and calling people friends who have exceptional creativity and even bigger hearts. B.: One of the things that I love most about photography, is that, years after years, I can, as photographer, collect images about something specific: people in the water, a friend of mine always in the same position, hundreds of images of the same tree. I think a lot of photographers love to create refrains. As collector, which is the importance of the recurrent images? T: There is no doubt that individual collectors are maniac, obsessive compulsive individuals. Repetition is almost a modus operandi. It is about looking for the »perfect« version of a stamp, an Italian Old Master, a butterfly, a vintage Man Ray. Things become very different if the collection is the result of the engagement of more people, possibly across generations. In my case, we are talking about an effort that was started by my parents and still is totally inspired by them that I now help nurture, enlarge and hopefully keep relevant for the next generation. When you are dealing with a multi individual, multi generational effort as in our case, it is harder to think in terms of recurrent images. Somehow you could say that the collection itself is the result of mixing the recurrent images, the obsessions of each of us, and as a result becomes a much more evenly blended affair. What you do find though, are the recurrent themes that each of us looks at and experiences differently. It's a fixation for technique over bravura, for our classical roots, for the beauty of landscape, Italian in particular, for the ability to be ironic through the lens of your camera. These things we share above and beyond the specific artists that one of us might like better than the other. B: A digital image and a film image. Is the process of generating an image that you like important for you? T: For sure. I am a Computer Scientist, my whole adult life has been about exploring digital techniques in a number of fields, from engineering to mathematics to social sciences. One should of course not mix up digital with photoshop. Remember what I was saying before about passion for technique. And in that regards digital techniques have for example allowed to realise large scale photographic works which would have been previously very hard or impossible to produce. In related fields you have 3D movies and rendering, all of which are by now the almost default framework with which we relate to image. Yet somewhere in my heart I am still with Cartier Bresson. A Leica, a fixed 50mm lens, black and white film. I could go on for ever about it really. Let's just say it's about being close and understanding the physical nature and limitations of your medium, not unlike playing music on vynil records. It's about the extra effort of being creative within a more constrained framework, and yet who can argue against what the masters have created with one 50mm lens. It's about the smell of film. Less poetically, In times of hackers and cyberattacks it's also about preservation… but this is a different topic, one which is way too complex to get into here. B: It was the year 1888 when a well known photographic brand advertisment said: »You press the button… we do the rest". What do you think about it? T: Don't you just love the colours of an old Kodachrome film? Or Simon&Garfunkel singing about it? Ok, on a more serious note. This is a big question about the democratisation of image making, and one that is closely related to some of the things we were discussing earlier about digital vs. film. I am not going to try and out-Sontag, Susan Sontag, on the topic of course. As a lover and collector of photography, as an amateur photographer, and as someone of true liberal values, there can be no doubt about the good that has come from making photography widely available, and less and less technically daunting. Arguably selfie-sticks are the ultimate manifestation of this process, and not one that I personally care much for. And snobs will always use examples like that to argue that the art should have only stayed accessible to the few. But for every annoying selfie stick, there are millions of people that actually grow up to have a truer appreciation of image making, making our community more diverse and deep. And from a documentary point of view, think about the number of events of huge historical relevance – from Tienanmen to Tahir Square – that we would have not understood as well were it not for the widespread availability of the medium. Remember though I am also one Leica, one lens, black and white film. And while I strongly believe in the democratic side of photography, I also think it's imperative we keep alive – and indeed spread – an understanding of the medium. You know, the ability that we grew up by looking at the sky and just knowing it's a 60/f8 kind of day. Is that important? Yes I truly believe it is. It's like Renaissance Perspective or Bach harmonies. You don't necessarily need to know them to enjoy a Picasso or Led Zeppelin. But without that knowledge being alive and spread enough you will not have the next Picasso or Led Zep.

»Mr. Volks meets Emanuela« – A Short Story by Guido Mangialavori

Feb 16, 2015 - Benedetta Panisson

mg class="alignnone size-medium wp-image-45238" src="" alt="Guido Mangialavori - portrait by Benedetta Panisson" width="571" height="400" /> Today I would like to share with you a short story by the writer Guido Mangialavori, from his long series »Nostalgia dell'umano«. It's about a slightly cruel man experimenting slightly cruelty on children, it's about sea when sea is impossible, it's about our nostalgia of the human. Guido Mangialavori's world is one of the most beautiful ugly worlds that I have ever read. Nostalgia dell'umano. Mr. Volks meets Emanuela. Let's pretend, says Emanuela, that we are at the sea? I think that she has never even seen the sea. Let's pretend that there are seashels? Let's pretend that it is beautiful? I say, this studio is also beautiful. Let's pretend that, continues the child, it is hot and there is a beach? I don't see why: we are perfectly fine right here, too. Let's pretend there are boats? These are words which don't deserve my attention. Let's pretend we dive in the water? The little one lies down on the floor; she moves her body twisting and turning; she slides and sluding she reaches the center of the room. She remains there a tangled up mess. Look at yourself, I hiss, you lack any sort of dignity. Emanuela reemerges from the hardwood floor, she stares at me stolidly: let's pretend we are sunbathing? I don't even listen to her. Do whatever you want, I tell her, but stay away from my carpet. The saltiness would ruin it, I think. And what would you know of saltiness anyways. I keep an eye on her sideways. Emanuela is drawing with her hands absurd doodles in the air. Emanuela conducts an alienated existence. The childs insists: let's pretend there is a sand castle? Terraced, I think. Let's pretend I am a princess? I remain silent. Noble? Determined, I stand up: I face the silly visionary, looking at her straight in the eyes. I attack her: no you little nothing, you will never be anything in your life. Bewildered Emanuela sobs softly. Or rather, just a little bit.

The Sexuality of Exegesis – Work in progress with a Professor in Roman Law

Feb 15, 2015 - Benedetta Panisson

I adore immense researches on tiny things, hypertechnical languages that sound like an unknown music, marvelous discoveries that seem useless. It's when in the life of a man the most important thing is to observe for hours and hours a medusa behaving in an unforeseen way, to postdate of some weeks a 2300 years old statue, to change the value of a current law re-interpreting the etymology of a single latin word. A fascinating (and little grumpy) bohemien or a monk, a passionate and maniac researcher, completely absorbed in his world, in his words, obsessions, calculations, stupors, mistakes and satisfactions. One step from resulting, in his research, completely boring or incredibly genius. All this gives me the desire to work as a visual artist next to an academician and his own parallel world. After years I finally found my academician to study, and she looks perfectly in harmony with the experiment, so I'm glad to introduce to you Barbara Biscotti, Professor in Roman Law, Law Historian, a passion for underwater archeology, a career as jurist and lawyer, a list of international publications about the legal system of ancient Rome. For me, a new world to admire. Thanks to Barbara, this is a pleasure. Some notes about a work in progress:

  • It is important for my artistic method that all her world of research is, for me, incomprehensible, unspeakable, seductive. As sensuality: incomprehensible, unspeakable, seductive.
  • A chance to entirely mould a photographic project not only on her study, but also on her technical approach to a study, on her inner tension while she has to canalize an intuition in a strict and rational academic system.
  • A way to let emerge an artistic shape from an academic research.
  • Create a balance or an unbalance intersecting a photographic project with an almost entirely based-on-text study.
  • Observing an academic observation.
  • Listening to a technical language that I don't know.
  • Trying to understand how scholars give name to things.
  • Trying to understand how scholars create territories of significations.
Here's some draft pictures (things, territories, layers, coincidences, directions) about our project, backstage-insights (everything is still in progress) and some questions to Barbara.
  • B.P.: In alphabetical order, please Barbara, could you share with me 10 of the most important words of your study?
  • B.B.: Classical, curiosity, deduction, exegesis, history, humanity, imagination, logic, right, scientific accuracy.
  • B.P.: If ancient romans had a photographic camera, what would they have taken pictures of, for sure?
  • B.B.: Normal/poor ones: architectures, executions. Rich people: military parades, banquets and laden tables, circus’ games
  • B.P.: Together with you, i would like this project to become a book, something between your academic research and my photography. For sure something that is a little short circuit. What would you like to have in your hand, at the end of this project together?
  • B.B.: The second dream of each historian: a sort of copy of Alice in Wonderland in which I am Alice and I fall down in a tunnel, back to Antiquityland. (The first one is a time machine!)

“The Free Sea” (2014) – A Film by Hanna Husberg and Laura McLean

Feb 14, 2015 - Benedetta Panisson

While i was working on my »Come to Venice« project, about the loss of identity of people living in my beloved city, Venice, I got in connection with Hanna Husberg and Laura McLean. They were working on a great project about the Maldives, about their environmental and human condition, »Contingent Movements Archive« (Maldives Pavilion, 55th Venice Biennale). In synthesis, we were both working on disappearing islands. I take this occasion to thank Hanna and Laura to represent the human state of emergency in art. I think one of the most important role of art is to convert conventional crisis in unconventional beauty and to convert conventional beauty in unconventional crisis.

The Excess Island

Feb 13, 2015 - Benedetta Panisson

»The Excess Island« (2011 – in progress) is an utopian island where every relation, every connection, every form of communication, between islanders and animals, between people and natural elements, between the sea and all the rest has a sexual matrix. The project contains about 70 images, I'm aiming to get to 120. It's structured in chapters, every image is accompanied by a short text.

People do Water

Feb 12, 2015 - Benedetta Panisson

mg src="" alt="untitled" width="600" height="360" class="alignnone size-medium wp-image-45005" /> First of all thanks to Der Greif Team. I'm really happy to be part of this platform. I would like to introduce to you a couple of new cycle of works based on photography and the sexuality of the sea: »People do water« and »The Excess Island«, both started around 2012 and still in progress. About 4 years ago I decided to begin to work on my personal film photography archive, that I started to shoot when I was around 6 years old. The desire was to try to use my reaserch on sexuality as filter to filter all that could come out from this archive. I noticed that I had hundreds of pictures about islands, oceans, seas, beaches, fishes, horizons, waves, people in the water, people swimming, seagulls; there was a world and this world was about the sexuality of the sea. I'm trying to think about the sea as a sexual metaphor. It's an in progress method, still uncertain, to superimpose an unconventional sexual manifestation on natural elements and natural scenery, trying to displace the dialectic edges between normality and perversion. Both of these projects are part of the platform Art:I:curate, founded by Nur Elektra El Shami and Irina Turcan. I strongly suggest to visit this art platform that supports emerging artists and curators, working both on on-line processes and off line exhibitions. Everytime it's a pleasure to work with such a professional and elegant team.