Languages of Light
Outside the suggested research in the photographic world, the subject light in visual arts is, in my opinion, definitely painting territory. The emotion of Van Gogh’s travel in life from the Northen earthliness to the Southern brightness (Vangoghmuseum.nl, 2019), despite his difficult personality, temper and emotions. The masters of the chiaroscuro, inspired by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, play with light in an unparalleled way, no wonder Brassai refers to them(amer4127, 2011b). The influence of the Claire-Obscure light personated in the work of the Spanish Velázquez and the Dutch Rembrandt (Rijksmuseum.nl, 2019), masters of the light, so comparable yet so different in everything they were, lived, thought and made. North against South (amer4127, 2013), visualized in their use of light, Sally Man was so right (amer4127, 2013).
Of course, Martin Parr (Parr and Badger, 2018) with his attractive, hard realistic but still light, bright and humourous images of the English coast. The light indeed makes it light. Imagine Martin Parr’s photographs without flash or sun but under a grey overcast sky in dark tones. The light makes the emotions. As Brassaï admits he was romantically inspired by Von Goethe (amer4127, 2011b), a major exponent of the German literary movement: Sturm und Drang, where emotion should prevail over reason, even if it kills “die Jungen Werther” (Von Goethe, 2019).
Finally, Waffenruhe (Schmidt et al., 2018) changed my mind and gave direction in project 4 and this Assignment specifically. The atmosphere in this work is so stunningly striking and recognisable. Of course, the monochrome images support the historical placement. Still, even the text in the centre of the book and the closing statement at the end are beautifully complementary to the images and this laden subject in German history.
Despite the theme of Waffenruhe, the overwhelming pressure of the past and absence of a future, it somehow relates to Goethe again with a touch of “Schmerzen” shining through, emotion over reason (von Goethe, 2018). Emotion, indeed as the German/Romanian artist and art-historic Janos Frecot writes at the final paragraph on the closing page of Waffenruhe: “..Der ja auch keine Geschichte erzählt, sondern einen Befund, eine Verwundung benennt, einen dumpf bohrenden Schmerz im Bewußtsein scheinbarer Ruhe”.(Schmidt et al., 2018)
Goethe must have foreseen the pain Germany, and Berlin specifically, ceaselessly inflicts on herself over the burden of history when he let Wilhelm say: “könnten Sie doch aufhören, selbst den Dolch zu schärfen, mit dem Sie sich unablässig verwunden! Bleibt Ihnen denn nichts? Ist denn Ihre Jugend, Ihre Gestalt, Ihre Gesundheit, sind Ihre Talente nichts…” (von Goethe, 2018)
Strange how my thoughts and development over this Assignment are almost circular. Entering with the warm, indeed romantic but never withholding or shy Brasssaï (Brassaï, Aubenas and Bajac, 2013) and his reference to the “romantic, right?”(amer4127, 2011b) Von Goethe and ending with the laden Waffenruhe and the reference again to Von Goethe; hence emotion is also pain, an unbearable pain sometimes as described in Die Leiden Des Jungen Werther (Goethe, 2019).
In my selection of photographs, I tried to include some of the silent emotion of a place. How its history, its atmosphere reflects in these images and how the light spectacularly defines that atmosphere. To refer to Freco: it is not a story but a “Befund”.(Schmidt et al., 2018)
The desolated Dutch coast during those grey, watery cold winters. All the soldiers have left; all the tourists are gone. What’s left is the sea, the sand, grey light, almost just an un-dark followed by the absence of warmth in all possible capacities. Decay and neglect, afflicted surfaces, misplaced cheerfulness and that cold, saline wind, never-ending, always scourging over the flat land.
Together with the previous suggested work by my tutor: American Power by Mitch Epstein (Epstein and Epstein, 2011), it feels as if a seed is planted in search for more meaningfulness in my work. Beyond meaningfulness is the inspiring work of Sebastião Salgado (Salgado and Lélia Wanick Salgado, 2013) by adding purpose and distinctive goals to his photography. Of course, American Power is almost an activist work, and Waffenruhe summarises in a brilliantly laden way the ongoing, practically static aftermath and consequences of one of histories most dramatic events. Feeling small among giants, it nevertheless slowly shifts my thoughts and conceptual entry point.
Final Selected Photographs