Equivalents

»Perhaps the only thing that points to a time is rhythm; Not the recurring beats of
the rhythm, but the gap between two such blows, the gray gap between two black
beats: the tender interval.« Vladimir Nabokov, Ada oder Das Verlangen, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1977, p. 656.

Photography is a strange medium, an idiosyncratic mixture of strengths and weaknesses. It is very good to document everyday reality, and yet it is only capable of grasping silent, frozen surfaces.
Photographing something everyone percieves on any day is difficult. To compress grass as if you saw grass for the first time. Turn a cloud into a sculpture of cotton candy. And yet it
should be grass or condensed water. The exhibited photographers master this alienation performance. They make us see things as if we see them for the first time,
although they are more than familiar to us.
With the title “Equivalents” I refer to Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946) “Cloud Images”, which
had the claim to create an analogy between the order of things, feelings and signs. Stieglitz
called the approximate 400 recordings, which he created starting from 1922 “direct
revelations of a man’s world in the sky – documents of eternal relationship” (1). By that
he freed photography from “content”, allowing art to depend not on a decisive
moment, not on the arbitrary presence of things. Clouds are free, open to everyone,
there are no privileges attached to them, yet his photographs are an attempt to create a
sensation and form and thus to save a moment.
If, as Gottfried Jäger says, there are two great photographic cultures, the imitative, mimetic, which ‘takes’ the images, and the imagecreating, poetic, which ‚gives‘ them (2), “Equivalents” are images with a positive trade balance: They take and give alike; Descriptive and connotative, they are not only obligated to record a reality of any kind, but also record the photographer’s attention: his mental as well as physical choices of design, where Friedrich Schleiermacher is speaking (3), the infinite is looked at in the finite.

Production and reproduction are often placed in a before/after relationship: first the creation, then the copy. Only the time-consuming creative act, then the rapid imitation. But what happens when two reproduction media produce themselves? A diptych from BöhmKobayashi shows the result of a copier copying a scanner while the scanner is scanning the copier. Not only are analogue and digital reproduction media let loose on each other, here is the productive force of devices – simultaneously working – now doing more than just imitation.
The absence of the representation in the representation is also present in the works, which ‘happened’ in the Leipziger printing house: To adjust the printing machine, old print sheets were again placed in the machine, photos of photos: Black, but compressed, thick black, a color that implies anything
seen before. These images, as well as the nightly window tapes of the Mies van der Rohe building in Toronto – which recall the negative strips of an analog film – call up an accusation. As in the depthless surfaces of no longer untouched skies that Katja Stuke photographed in her latest series: Were it
clouds which structured the scene for Stieglitz, there are in Stuke’s work not only the civilization remnants of contrails and power lines, but also the colors of the light spectrum, which expands between white and black. It is “more a dance, not a march” in this “abstraction game” (1).
The digital image, Jean Baudrillard formulates his accusation, replaces the resemblance, the constant reference to reality through images “on which there is nothing to see, images without traces, without consequences. All that one senses is that something has vanished behind each of them.” (2) BöhmKobayashi turn this form of the simulacrum into analogue and show that abstraction always begins with an action. (Anja Schürmann)