Untitled (four swans), 2006 © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, for Jochen Lempert Courtesy of ProjecteSD, Barcelona
As we discussed at length in this blog by Gareth, nature photography doesn’t feature much in photographic art magazines. Perhaps that is all about to change as Jochen Lempert is nominated as one of this year’s Deutsche Börse Prize potential winners.
Lempert takes pretty pictures that’s for sure, but they are not simply that. His work has been lauded among the best in publications such as Camera Austria and Art Review. His work is often referenced alongside post modernist authors, such as Italo Calvino, likening his use of photography to their use of disparate and fractured texts. Lempert’s images operate in much the same way. By placing seeminly arbitrary texts (photographs) together associations are made in the mind of the viewer that cannot be predicted or ascertained. The work takes on a life of it’s own as combinations and narratives play out depending on the individual mind of the viewer.
For example, my reading of this triptych will probably be completely different from yours and that is the strength of this work – it transcends experience and knowledge and draws upon personal histories. That could be said of any photograph of course but the confidence by which Lempert presents his work, seemingly unresolved and fractured, reveals his belief in the open text and the power of the metonym. So much so that the work speaks for itself and he doesn’t feel the need to explain it away.
As post modernists refer to themselves and their processes Lempert’s photography is as much about photography as it is photography. (A trait that seems to arise time and again in the Deutsche Börse selections for the prize.)
I was never any good at mixing science and art so I find it
impressive intimidating to see people excel at maximising both left and right sides of their brain. So often science and art are seen as mutually exclusive. As a trained entomologist and ornithologist, Jochen Lempert challenges this notion. I hope the raised awareness of his work as a result of Deutsche Börse will be a point of inspiration for intelligently positioned photographic work about nature.
This is the second of our four opinion pieces on the Deutsche Börse finalists. To read Jesse Alexander’s piece on why he wants Richard Mosse to win click here