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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.

Sjoerd Knibbeler - Lunacy

Jul 13, 2017

The question how to travel to the Moon has since long been addressed in legends, stories and later in literature. These virtual attempts were the first recorded steps of human exploration of the Moon as a place. Still today – except for a very few individuals – the Moon is a place we experience entirely through words and images. Even looking up at night provides us with a two-dimensional, flat surface: an image.

Lunacy (2017) examines the fundamental human desire for exploration: A Faustian restlessness driving our advances into the realm beyond planet Earth. I have been collecting and sampling the rich history of lunar voyages, in an attempt to photograph in outer space. Moon travelling requires a lot of ingenuity – both in fiction and reality – and many scientist, engineer, writer, film maker or other inventor has taken up the challenge. Based on their words and images, found in novels, studies, designs, films and photographs, I’ve built models of their spacecraft. The models are made from fibreboard and wood; organic material that, as far as we know, exists only on planet Earth. In an outdoor studio setting, I take photographs of the models at night, using only Moonlight. Each part of this process is real: I do not manipulate the photographs, but rather manipulate the conditions and materials in an attempt to let the photographs themselves become the space where Moon and Earth meet.


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.
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Darren Harvey-Regan, The Erratics

Jul 18, 2017 - Sjoerd Knibbeler

Sometimes, when developing an idea or work, things just seem to fall into place. It feels a bit like being a witness to your own creative process. Some exhilaration is probably involved, but it also raises questions: How did this happen? And what is this place things just fell into? Darren Harvey-Regan’s recently published book The Erratics explores these themes and in doing so playfully rearranges some of photography’s most persistent traditions. The cardboard backed book contains forty images – roughly divided into two series – and text by Darren that I would describe as a hesitant journal, exploring the interplay between fleeting, fragile thoughts and solidifying artistic gestures.

 

So what is it about? The simple answer could be: Sculpting rock. Darren presents us with two types of images – landscapes and still lives – showing rocks of the same material: chalk. This sediment was formed from the remains of algae that lived in long gone oceans during the Crateceous period, millions of years ago. The white cliffs on England’s south coast are made of the stuff, which is where Darren collected the chalk for his still lives. He also found it in Egypt in the form of chalk ventifacts that feature in his landscapes.

 

Chalk ventifacts are natural monoliths arisen through aeolian processes. Or in other words, large rock formations shaped by wind erosion. In the Egyptian White desert, frequent storms are responsible for sandblasting magnificent sculptural forms in the chalk deposits. Deposits that were built up in an ocean, layer for layer, only to be broken down in an arid desert, storm after storm. When looking at Darren’s photographs of these monoliths, not only do the aeons that have passed before the moment he released the shutter become apparent. Quite literally, the images seem to refer to the opposite extremes on their continuum: An ocean turned into desert, life turned into death and horizontal strata turned into vertical pillars. Between such distant opposites the transformational process leaves me puzzled; I can visualize a state of departure and accept the slice of time these photographs take. I might even prospect the rubble that these monoliths will eventually turn into. Yet I am unable to really come to terms with what happens in between. Studying geologic history will only help me on a cognitive level.

 

The still lives provoke different thoughts. Here Darren presents the process of human intervention, working on a more comprehensible time-scale. First of all in replacing the context of these rocks: from the white cliff on the coast to the white plinth in the studio. Secondly in the carving applied to them, manipulating the chalk so that flat surfaces, lines and corners appear. Lastly, in photographing the arrangements in such ways that the space these images evoke is extended and transformed by the carved rocks. In the context of the Egyptian ventifacts, these sculptured rocks lead to an odd realization. Here, I can come to terms with processes in between, but I cannot undo the play on perception. Cognitively I can, but in direct observation my eyes deceive me. The images simply demand it.

 

“In geology, an erratic is a rock that differs in type from those around it, having been carried over large distances by long-vanished glaciers”, reads the first sentence of the book’s blurb. How does it differ? In its new context the erratic looks like an anomaly. Yet depending on your perspective, it just might have fallen in its right place.

 

The Erratics came out last May and can be ordered through RVB BooksHere you can find more of Darren’s work.


Rosie Heinrich, We always need heroes

Jul 17, 2017 - Sjoerd Knibbeler

I have to admit I’m completely biased, but I would like to take this opportunity to give a preview of the forthcoming project of Rosie Heinrich, for which I did some of the camerawork. Rosie is an artist who uses audio material from recorded conversations as her core medium to explore the nature of language and self-story telling. Her practice encompasses video, performance and photography. In 2015 she started to explore the psychological and social dynamics of Iceland’s crash in 2008. Far more than simply economic, the crash was the collapse of a collective narrative and myth. Based on interview material with Icelanders, her video work We always need heroes delves deep into the effects and potential of crisis, told from a very human perspective. Rosie also collaborated with a choir for various performative parts of the project. The imagery shown here is a mix of video stills and photographs, which will feature in the book to accompany Rosie’s video work. It will be published by Fw:Books and released during Unseen Photo Fair in Amsterdam in September. Make sure to look out for it at the book fair, comes highly recommended.


Jeroen Bocken, The Celebrated Remedy for the Cure of Disorder

Jul 16, 2017 - Sjoerd Knibbeler

A month ago I had the honour to be part of the jury for the MA photography graduates of the Royal Academy of Antwerp. Here I discovered the work of Jeroen Bocken, a young Belgian artist. He presented a thoughtfully considered and coherent collection of works under the title The Celebrated Remedy for the Cure of Disorder. Jeroen questions the role of technology as a tool for “evoking an idealist world designed by human calculations and theories.” He is associatively discovering and experimenting his way through a wide range of imaging technology, which for example results in a 3D-rendered image of a linden tree, cloned from a single photographed leaf. Playfully drawing on nature’s tendency for patterns and our talent to recognize those, his photographic works are double takes, often crafted from multiple exposures. So when he then presents you with an almost iconic image of the Austrian Alps – shown digitally on a screen – you have to wonder what intricate technological process might lie behind. That is the moment when Jeroen appears as the boy who cried wolf. Or might he actually be howling himself?


Jochen Lempert

Jul 15, 2017 - Sjoerd Knibbeler

I’m writing these blogs on a small island called Föhr, just off the coast of Northern Germany in the national park of Schleswig–Holstein, where I’m an artist in residence for a few weeks. On one of my tours around the island I happened upon four wood pigeons flopping about in a wheat field. They were trying to land on top of the straws, which were too fragile to carry their weight. To try and solve this problem, the pigeons landed flat on the chest with their wings spread wide to divide their weight over as many straws as possible. Even so, the straws gave way after some time and they took off again to try their luck on another patch. It all looked quite awkward and inconvenient for the birds and I could not come up with a reason for this strange behaviour.

 

The whole scene made me think of Jochen Lempert, who might have to photograph it someday, or otherwise surely has an explanation for what these pigeons were doing. Trained as a biologist, Jochen has a keen eye for unnoticed, fleeting moments, which he captures with an unassuming virtuosity. The threads that spiders use to take to the sky, carried by the wind, which he catches in the light of the sun. Or a deer on a stone paved road, alertly perking up her ears. In the first photograph her attention seems to be drawn to what’s in front of her. The second photograph probably captures the very moment she hears an unfamiliar sound behind her: the click made by the camera.

 

Jochen does not only hunt, he also gathers. The Skins of Alca impennis is his expanding collection of the great auk, a flightless bird that became extinct in the mid-nineteenth century. The great auk was exploited en masse by humans for it’s down, used to make pillows. The animals portrayed are in fact taxidermied specimens in the collections of natural history museums around the world: Stuffed skins of an animal exterminated to fill cushions. Sleep well.

 

For me, the biologist becomes most apparent in his photograms. He deploys the technique to trace movement and patterns of smaller animals and plants like glow worms, fire flies, reptiles or algae. By letting bio luminous organisms like glow-worms crawl over 35 mm film, they record their own paths onto the photosensitive material. Another series documents water striders, insects that ‘walk on water’, where the photosensitive paper was placed under water to create the photogram.

 

Although Jochen only uses analogue modes of photography and prints his exclusively black and white photographs on barite paper, he is by no means a traditionalist. Technical perfection or dogma’s are not his cup of tea. He rather uses his unframed prints to improvise with spatial organisations in an exhibition space, inviting you to associatively make connections between photographs: Looking, discovering and questioning yourself.

 

Lot’s of reason I’d say, to look forward to meeting Jochen end of August in Belfast. Together with David Fathi, we will take part in a group exhibition at Belfast Exposed. Keep an eye out on the website for more information on the show.

 

All images are installation views of his solo show at Midway Contemporary Art in 2012


Marina Gadonneix, Phénomènes

Jul 14, 2017 - Sjoerd Knibbeler

Marina Gadonneix has a thing for looking behind the scene, a curiousness I can very well relate to. Where is reality being staged and what does this context look like? Marina has been consistently seeking out and documenting places that are meant to represent another, often to be presented in yet another place again: Sets for television shows, testing grounds for rescue or military operations and photo studio’s for reproducing famous works of art, to name a few. Spaces that function to simulate a reality and bring out certain aspects while leaving others out: controlled environments. Here I’d like to showcase her series Phénomènes for which she extensively photographed in laboratories and other places of scientific enquiry. Places where the unpredictable forces of nature are being recreated and observed in safe – and above all – measurable and quantifiable circumstances. To test how a bolt of lightning affects an aircraft. Or to drive a rover in the rocky Martian desert. However artificial and controlled these environments may seem, they provide scientists with very real data and insights in the workings of natural phenomena, by narrowing the focus to a significant level of detail. Marina takes a wider perspective to observe the scientific observation in its natural habitat: the laboratory.

 

Lately she has been shooting new work in NASA’s Jet Propulsion lab. I hear the work might be finished in October, so keep an eye out. See more of her work here and pick up a copy of her beautiful book After the Image.