zaterdag 24 november 2012

The Christmas Rose It happened on a clear day Artist's Book Laura Samsom Rous Photography

In her series ‘It happened on a clear day”, Laura Samsom Rous creates her own landscapes in the middle of Amsterdam, with the help of parked cars. The landscape doesn’t really exist, it looks like a dream. But still, they’re all real.

“She didn’t change anything in the scenes she photographed. She didn’t add a raindrop, removed a petal or changed the dust. If we only had looked better ourselves, then we could have seen them as well. But we didn’t, we had to go on. At the horizon always the wipers, they will awake in due time and vanish this paradise in one sweep – but then we already saw it.” (Text Cornel Bierens). 
Laura Samsom Rous studied anthropology at the University of Amsterdam and was a lecturer at the Academy of Art in Utrecht and The Hague. Her photographs are in international collections. Together with Hans Samsom, she worked for the United Nations, the Anti Apartheid Movement and the Royal Tropical Institute in the Netherlands. They work and live in Amsterdam.

It Happened on a Clear Day. In Amsterdam, 2012

Looking at the photographs by Laura Samsom brought to mind Paul Klee’s famous comment, from his work Schöpferische Konfession (1920): ‘Art does not reproduce the visible, it makes visible’. An excellent statement, so it has always seemed. But now it was suddenly clear that it is only half true. Laura Samsom makes visible, certainly, but she does so by reproducing only what is visible. She has orchestrated nothing, manipulated nothing, has not wiped away a single raindrop, added a single leaf or moved the finest particle of dust. If we had paid more attention we might have come across these very images ourselves. But we paid no attention, we did not have the time. This book shows us nevertheless what we have passed by: pure landscape painting.

How is it possible? All of the photographs were taken in Amsterdam’s city centre, by a photographer who twisted herself into the weirdest positions on top of car bonnets. On the haunches of the holy cow, that dream capsule which has made us lovers of liberty, conquerers of new lands. That stinking city monster, lined up street after street in battle array, straining at the leash to hurl itself snarling into the chase again. How we hate that beast, and how we love it. Where would we be without the idea that we could get in at any time and travel to a better place, less crowded, less stressful, less calculated. Paradise is never far away – as shown here by Laura Samsom, who has conjured it up out of the monster, photograph by photograph.

She has an artistic predecessor in Jan Dibbets, who once made a series of close-ups of car doors, car bonnets and mudguards. Monochrome photos, with only the occasional faint reflection of a tree or house front. Colour studies, he called them. But that was in the 1970s, when art still sought after purity by leaving out as much as possible. How liberating that meanwhile that pure splendour is teeming once more with natural life: flower-buds like angels, water drops like fantastic fish, the navigator’s suction cup on the windscreen like a moon shining by day. And always on the horizon the windscreen wipers, which, when they awake from their deep sleep, will wipe away this paradise at a stroke – but we will have seen it by then.

Cornel Bierens, Amsterdam 2010

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