Absence of Subject
Michael Somoroff pays homage to August Sander’s monumental photographic work titled People of the 20th Century in Somoroff’s body of work, Absence of Subject. Seemingly simple at first, it is a complex elliptical ambitious work comprised of forty photographs and seven animations as well as forty August Sander original photographs. Here is a conceptual artist using photography as a communicator contemplating the relationship between photography and truth.
Ever since the medium was first invented, photography’s relationship with the real world has been as perplexing as it is fascinating. Far more than a medium such as painting, photography was supposed to have a certain level of truth. We know that Sander’s subjects are fixed. Anne Wilkes Tucker has noted that “only his single observation of each subject exists for us; frozen in stance and situation.” In recent decades, in particular, the idea has taken root that truth and reality are ambiguous concepts in photography. Somoroff explores this notion.
The digital revolution has brought the unprecedented potential for manipulation into focus. Through the use of software Somoroff has taken out what we have always believed to be the “essential element” – the subject, the portrait. The backgrounds, once a secondary fragment, now become the primary motivator. They have now been translated into new fully conceived images that rightfully belong to the “post modern” idiom.
In the videos Somoroff takes the new image as its base and now adds an element instead of taking away. In each of the videos (run on a continuous loop), Somoroff surprises us with tiny increments of inexplicable movements which are utterly absorbing, potent dramas of time and space – endless in the moment, over before you know it.
These works dwell in the poetry of stillness forcing the viewer to go beyond the work and reflect upon himself.
Diana Edkins – Curator
Accompanying the exhibition is an illustrated book written by Diana Edkins with a foreword by Anne Wilkes Tucker, text by Julian Sander and Michael Somoroff, designed by Mary Shanahan.
Buchhandlung Walther König, Köln, 2011.
Price: $50 | €38
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