woensdag 13 februari 2008

Dutch Eyes Frank van der Salm Multiplicity Photography

Landscape photographs are normally full of information about the location, horizon, scale, distances and perspective of the landscape. Not so with the photographs of Frank van der Salm (born in Delft in 1964). Here, the viewer is left with countless questions rather than answers. Through the manipulative potential of his technique in taking the picture, the usual gauges found in the photograph are rendered utterly useless. In particular, it is hard to estimate the scale of what it is that has been photographed. Are we talking about a mountain, or indeed, a maquette? There is no focal point, because so much of the subject is out of focus, and Van der Salm’s very effective framing also means that one cannot always deduce a context.

With this technique, the subject is manipulated until it has evolved into a complicated and disorientating new image. In our day of trends and commerce, with its excess of visual stimuli and multimedia communications, Van der Salm has availed himself of a tremendous pleasure in the creation of images and perceptions of reality. He moreover does so without critical or political undertones. His preoccupation with a changing society seems sooner to have been born of a sincere fascination with the new developments.

Herein lies an important difference between Van der Salm and his photographer predecessors. He acknowledges that amongst other things, he has been influenced by such people as Lewis Baltz and Robert Adams. These ‘new topographers’ made a name for themselves in the 1970s with landscape photography that meant a total break in style with the prevailing ideal. This ideal had comprised a heavily romanticised vision of the unspoiled landscapes of the American West. The ‘new topographers’, who also included Stephen Shore and Bernd and Hilla Becher, sounded a critical note by showing the landscape as it was fundamentally altered by man. Their photography was very pure and left a strong impact. In Van der Salm’s case, the camera also looks to today’s changing society, but he employs this reality solely to bring across his own message. ‘Reality for me is only a means to be used as flat, two-dimensional paint.’ The medium of photography is in his view ideally suited to confronting and exposing the relationship between the image and the thing it represents, precisely because of the level of ‘truth’ that people have always attributed to the photographic image.

Van der Salm photographs landscapes, cities and architecture, but he also portrays light, water and movement. To do so, he travels throughout all of Europe and America. He goes in search of the right locations, seeking for hours on end with a preconceived idea in mind, as long as it takes until just the right disorientating combination can be formed between reality and the image of reality that he is after. At the moment he finds it, nothing is added, nothing is staged. The manipulation of the image is entirely in the framing, the composition and his modifications in the focus. The results are photographs of buildings or landscapes and of skies and water that all make you doubt that they really exist. Existing situations seem not to exist, and that which is ‘unreal’ turns out really to be real.
Michelle Mandos

Vanaf 20 januari 2008 is in het Fries Museum in Leeuwarden een uitgebreid overzicht te zien van foto’s van Frank van der Salm. Daarmee heeft het Fries Museum een primeur: het is de eerste grote overzichtstentoonstelling van Van der Salm in een Nederlands museum. Frank van der Salm (Delft, 1964) fotografeert stadslandschappen. De foto’s geven een breed panoramisch beeld op grote steden en infrastructuren maar focussen ook op details als doorgangsruimtes en structuren in architectuur.

Wisselende scherptes
Door bewuste toepassingen van wisselende scherptes in het fotografische beeld, inzoomen op bepaalde details en een schijnbare afwezigheid van mensen in de ruimte, creëert Van der Salm een geheel eigen ruimtelijke ervaring. De camera is voor hem een suggestief instrument als het gaat om de weergave van de schaal van hetgeen is afgebeeld. Is dat wat is afgebeeld een maquette of is het een werkelijk gebouwde omgeving? De kijker wordt geconfronteerd met realiteit en denkbeeldige werkelijkheden. De wijze waarop de huidige beeldcultuur de persoonlijke waarneming beïnvloedt, is een rode draad in het oeuvre van Van der Salm.

Het Fries Museum concentreert zich in zijn verzamel- en tentoonstellingsbeleid op de genres landschappen en portretten. Al sinds 2000 volgt het museum de ontwikkelingen in het werk van Frank van der Salm. Eerder exposeerde hij in Buro Leeuwarden (2000). Werk van de fotograaf is opgenomen in de vaste collectie van het museum.

Frank van der Salm
Frank van der Salm nam eerder onder andere deel aan belangrijke internationale tentoonstellingen als Spectacular City (Rotterdam, Düsseldorf 2006, 2007) en de Biënnale van Venetië (2001). Van der Salm exposeert regelmatig in galerieën en musea in binnen- en buitenland.
De tentoonstelling wordt samengesteld door gastconservator Colin Huizing in samenwerking met de kunstenaar.

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