UTA NEUMANN | On Uncertain Ground
Opening: Friday, 26 September, 7 p.m.
Exhibition: 27 September - 11 October 2008
Uta Neumann’s precise photographs do not only bring her closer to herself, but also close in on the object of the photo. Approaching the issue of “what is”, she explores her own potential in relation to the object and in awareness of the present moment. Using a wide range of visual possibilities she continuously homes in on what is no longer there. It is a ghost-like suspicion that creeps through her pictures. It is the suspicion of absence that draws our attention to what appears acutely hollow and despaired. Mankind’s relationship with nature is a recurring motif in Uta Neumann’s photographs.
The way in which she presents us with the beauty of incidental occurrences, the beauty of the moment, is a very evident part of her work. It is the language of shape, of tranquillity and clarity and also the language of how we relate to objects. Her eye for life’s sidelines, for those moments that suddenly become part of our lives albeit for the length of a dialogue, is of startling sobriety.
The photo series Rauschen (2003) draws our attention to a person who is writhing on the ground and attempting to get up again. Although we see the young man in two different environments, neither leaves nor sand can alter his degree of discomfort. On the contrary, they exacerbate his situation. The trendy looking man, who is sporting modern lifestyle accessories such as a hooded top, jeans and lanyard, appears to represent the modern-day subject, who wishes to escape from the boundaries of nature. Roots, history and origin have become alien to him – unknown territory, the simplicity of which is such a contrast to the complexity of the urban male or female’s violated ego that it is almost hard to bear.
In the photo series What we are longing for (2006/2007) Uta Neumann lets us partake in her focus on three people. These three people are positioned in a common context – a clearing which is hit by rays of sunshine. This context produces a degree of coherence between the people and the clearing and all of a sudden the photo becomes an image that represents the question of life. The life experience that lies between these three people who are all addressing us with their perception of “what is” becomes a synonym for time. Given the distance between them and the photographer, time – that is forever changing and forever bringing about change – is mirrored in the faces of the three people portrayed. We cannot detect any details – all we can see is their gaze. The desire for strength, for the inherent quality of nature – continuity and tranquillity – is peacefully gazing at us.
After leaving a room, something new appears upon which you can focus. In her latest photo series Den Raum verlassen/ Leaving a room (2008) Neumann confronts us with pictures of reality that pose questions about origin, coincidence, documentation and performance. The result are severe pictures that do not attempt to convey the illusion of reality, but are instead more images of reality. The extract of reality that becomes visible is however not without history. Leaving a room is about the dialectic between absence and presence. Presence has come to a standstill, whilst what is absent remains hidden. The photographic surface conceals the traces that could hint at some form of human action. At the same time however the surface also offers us the chance to fully perceive the room or space, which has been captured here with great attention to detail.
Uta Neumann comes across her motifs in everyday situations. By reproducing a moment or a thought she centres on the question of origin. Unnoticed objects, spaces or people are of value and of interest to her by virtue of their sheer existence and beauty.
Susanne Weiß, freelance curator and art director of the Kunsthaus Dresden