ART HISTORIAN REFLECTS ON THE ARTIST’S WORK
“Without perception of the present, time passes without being lived. We always come from somewhere, striving forward, always heading somewhere. Restlessness. If we do not pause, emptiness results; for life is lived in the moment.
The photographic vision allows a change in the perception of one’s own life – the ephemeral made still for communing.
By means of photography, the present finally lay open before me.”
IS THIS STILL PHOTOGRAPHY ?
The pseudonym ‘SaySay’ hides a photographer of passion. Though he has never worked as a professional, photography has always been his life companion, and, more recently, the artistic medium has become increasingly important to him.
His images under the collective title ‘Human’, show mannequins. One example being a head with a camouflage cap and sunglasses. The viewer needs a few moments to grasp that the photograph is a portrait of a mannequin. Only then the lenses of the sunglasses reveal the vague reflection of the photographer. The striking point is the position of the reflection – which captures the eye area. This way the display window becomes invisible, in comparison to the mysterious photographer.
The title is ironic in that the only thing human about a mannequin is its reference, its likeness; that on which it is modelled. Photographs from the ‘Human’ series show mannequins in different designs and variations. The spectrum ranges from naturalistic to surreal. Accordingly, the respective moments of alienation are intense. Mannequins are an interesting and popular subject in photography, not least because of their proximity to the real thing, and the distance that can be created and maintained by the non-living model. SaySay is clearly playing with this ambivalence.
In his ‘Nature’ series, naturalistic elements dominate. Despite considerable alienation in the sense of intensification they remain largely recognizable. This creates new aspects, perspectives and view modes. If a sunset is focused, the viewer can hardly decide to what extent nature or the photographer, has designed the color-intensive mood here. Through alienations within the representations of different landscapes, as well as details from the great themes of ‘nature’, viewers are challenged to approach the works reflectively.
The pictures under the ‘Abstract’ label also bears discovery. As mysterious as the photographer, an image not easily deciphered appears. Certainly, it is the alteration of a motif objectively apprehended but that is artistically so alienated that it is up to the viewer to revive it with his own associations.
Some examples in this series appear rather more like painting than photography. An interesting aspect considering it often is the other way around – the painting that gives the impression of photography. The grade between abstraction and concretion is impressive – similar to the ‘Nature’ series the source of ideas here is inspired by nature. The color palette ranges from natural to surreal – comparable to the examples from the ‘Human’ series.
The photographs by SaySay are taken with an iPhone, testifying that in our times, technology has become a great support to creativity. Since the technology makes operation simple, one is presented with the advantage of time and space for motif selection and unlimited repetitive recordings in order to subsequently select the most successful image.
Further, the distinction of color within photography is unproblematic. In executing analogue photography, two cameras were needed in order to expose a black and white film on the one hand and a colored one on the other. The photographer uses both facets. The impressive and expressive black and white photography that favors the form and therefore allows one to concentrate on it, as well as color photography that turns the selected motifs of life into a multi-faceted picture world.
Dr. Ellen Markgraf, Art Historian
Kassel, August 2017