Zhankun Dai


Yana Kononova

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.

Martha Friedel - Éclat

Oct 16, 2019

Martha Friedel’s work was focused on the search for beauty, what beauty can still be in today’s neoliberal society. She questioned both current and her own subjective perception and definition of this term. In return, she photographed young people in portraits, juxtaposing them with photographs of objects, architectures, and natural phenomena. Through a kind of associative linking, which was in part purely formal-aesthetic but also shape-psychological in nature, alternative aesthetics such as the sublime or concepts such as fashion, zeitgeist and authenticity were also discussed.

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.

Éclat 1

Oct 23, 2019 - Martha Friedel

Every time I take the tram through the city, I notice that young women around me look very similar. Sitting next to me are girls between the ages of 13 and 16 with the same make-up, clothes and hairstyle. Countless small clones that I encounter in the city centre, in the streets and in small villages.

Éclat 2

Oct 22, 2019 - Martha Friedel

I sit in front of the Mensa, in the café, in the park, in the car at a traffic light and wait. I wait for walkers, people who go to work, people I meet. Looking for individuality and the unknown – for striking facial features, androgyny, something out of the ordinary. I am not referring to the exposition of physical deformation. What I mean is a preference for “real” faces, which I notice because of their physiognomy. I am interested in the appearance of people. I feel the person as such as beautiful. Especially those faces that deviate from the generally accepted ideal type. In their supposed ugliness, or rather their unusualness, I discover something essential, something that appeals to me aesthetically and exerts a fascination on me that I want to capture with the camera. So it is especially forms of portrait photography that I have dealt with in my artistic work.

Éclat 3

Oct 21, 2019 - Martha Friedel

I’m standing in Bosnia 100km east of Sarajevo, in the middle of nowhere. Around me a monster made of concrete. Brutalistic architecture at its best. It is raw, drastic, without frills and hard, as it were unyielding as it is strict, total expression free of ornaments, in a way hostile to its environment. Behind it stood a well-known political aesthetic: the buildings for ordinary citizens should be at least as monumental as the castles of the powerful once were. It enjoys a bad reputation in society and is often regarded as something hostile to people. An aesthetic misfit outside all contexts and norms. An eccentric who fascinates me. Just like the human misfits, this phase of architecture also stands out from the usual norms. Both can be seen as a phenomenon. For me they are brutally beautiful!

Éclat 4

Oct 20, 2019 - Martha Friedel

I look through the light shaft of my Hasselblad. Through the telephoto lens I’m very close to my model, it’s almost as if I just have to stretch out my fingers to fondle their faces. I recognize every single facial expression, the small wrinkles around the eyes, the dimples around the corners of their mouths, every pore. Every time I look at my models, I think to myself how extraordinary and beautiful, how striking and unique each of them is. It’s very quiet in the studio. Nobody speaks. The full concentration is on the right moment – finding the right posture, the body language, the shadow cast, the expression. With small steps, single nuanced handles on hair, position and clothes we approach the perfect photo until it corresponds to my imagination.

Éclat 5

Oct 19, 2019 - Martha Friedel

I’m Athens, it’s raining and there’s a documentary running on the TV. I don’t understand anything because it’s in Greek. I like the landscape shown so much that I start researching where this place is. One day later I am sitting in a rented car on the way to Meteora. After five hours of driving into the heart of the country in a scorching heat, I stand in front of the hermitages of the historic monastery Meteoras. I’m waiting and waiting – until the sun finally shifts behind one of the hundred meter-high rocks after a few more hours and casts no more shadows. I climb onto the roof of my rental car and set up the tripod so that I am at the same height as the caves and do the work.

Éclat 6

Oct 18, 2019 - Martha Friedel

My title “Éclat” comes from the French and means “shiny”, “brighter”, “appearing” – and “to cause a sensation” in German. In French it is positive and in German it is negative. The meaning is representative of the tension between the subjective feeling and the prevailing ideal of beauty.