Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"Old" new finds - Sebastian Lemm

I've been going over more closely all the blog based email I received over the last few months but didn't get a chance to look at properly. There a number from photographers and groups that highlight some very interesting photography.

One of those emails was from Sebastian Lemm about his various projects. I must say that this work really grabbed me (many would say, obviously so...). Lemm says about his work:

"...My work is informed by nature in a broad sense. Visually, I am fascinated by seemingly random structures in the natural environment and I see parallels to patterns or events in my own life. Taking a more wide-ranging definition of nature, I am attracted to subtleties of human interactions, the subconscious and physics’ theories about dimensions that are outside of our perception. Although these ideas may not be inherently obvious in my images, they do have a significant impact on my artistic process.

Apart from experiences in my own life, inspiration for my work comes from concepts of Romanticism especially those of Caspar David Friedrich, texts by Edmund Burke (about '‘Sublime and Beautiful’), Gilles Deleuze (‘Rhizome) and Roland Barthes ('Camera Lucida') among others."

Aside from the pain in the arse requirement to write "artist's statements" (isn't an artist's work his or her statement? Curators and Gallerists should be kicked in the behind daily to remind them of that one), I could easily apply about 75% of what he says to my immersive landscape work (among other projects). Just substitute Cozens for Friedrich and Derrida for Deleuze (although now I need to look at Rhizome again...) ...among others.

I'm especially drawn to schattenseite as well strata. I'm also very intrigued by subtraction (but if you are looking, don't ignore the other work - take a look through it). I find that the way he takes "natural" views and draws the viewer into them by emphasizing or distorting or unveiling the subject quite sublime, while the veiling or screening that occurs in many of the photographs also softens that sublimity tending it toward beauty in often unexpected ways. He certainly manages to take a traditionally Romantic subject and move it to a place somewhere beyond Modernism. Looking through different parts of his work and projects at times he manages to be all at once Romantic, Modern and at least one of the many postmodernisms (or to be pedantic, possibly more Derridian/deconstructivist than postmodern...).

I'm also convinced that these are pictures you really need to see up close, on a wall and experience (hopefully I'll have the chance one day). Certainly they work pretty well on a monitor, but I just want to be able to immerse myself in some of those strata or schattenseite pictures.

There is an insightful little interview with Lemm here. I like his down to earth and yet not anti-idealistic attitude where he says:

LO: Many artists want to become well known for their work. I understand this in terms of having more support to make your work and better venues to show it, but otherwise I sometimes think it’s not a good goal to have at all. What are your thoughts on this?

SL: Speaking for myself, the creation process is very addictive. The desire to create better work than before, to visualize and then realize new concepts and ideas—this is incredibly satisfying and this is what drives me. A show is an important payoff because it provides opportunities for exposure and feedback from people who are interested in your work. Being recognized through sales or in press is encouraging and essential not only for an artist's career, but also for the next steps in the work itself—to be frank, New York is an expensive place to live, and the creative process takes time, space, and materials. Although this type of “success” is relative and cannot be a primary goal in creating work, it is a reward I could not imagine wanting to live without.

I'm reminded a little of Fred Astaire: "You'd be amazed how small the demand is for pictures of trees..." - Fred Astaire to Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face.

(all pictures: Sebastian Lemm)


Anonymous said...

I completely agree with Sebastian Lemm. And I believe that is the unyielding line between a commercial photograph and art. For me, when you value more on the creative process than the "success" the piece will give you, I call that art. Lemm's various use of angles and lines in his nature photography creates many things going on in his work. Whether that's from a close up of a tree or a field of grass.

Anonymous said...

Too put it quite blatantly, I really like Sebastian Lemm’s work .I’m much of a nature photographer myself and I see sometimes how hard it is to turn the completely normal, everyday, overlooked things and make them look different. Especially with the subject matter being simply tree limbs; it’s hard to find more than one or two things to focus on, even with the lack of leaves which could perhaps make the shots easier, but then in the process turning them more cliché. I love the raw abstractness to them. In nature, tree limbs are the closest natural straight line that you could find. I love angles. I love the use of flash, causing the subject matter to stand out even more against the dark sky, distorting it even more into the abstract mind.
I'm reminded a little of Fred Astaire: "You'd be amazed how small the demand is for pictures of trees..." - Fred Astaire to Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face.
Haha, so true.