Soft manipulation

Sara Lamens

Gerhard Richter (Dresden, 1932) is one of the most influential artists of the postwar era. He has sought innovative ways to challenge painting and the representation and manipulation of reality, often through a dialogue with photography.

Richter is known for a stylistically varied exploration of the medium of painting, often incorporating and exploring the visual effects of photography.


I pursue no objectives, no system, no tendency; I have no program, no style, no directions. I have no time for specialised concerns, working themes, or variations that lead to mastery. I like continual uncertainty.’   Richter 1966


In 1969 Gerhard Richter challenges the authority of the photographic image with his series ‘9 Objekte’. Each of the nine black-and-white photographs capture a different wooden construction in a quotidian setting. The ordinary context suggest the objects should also be ordinary. But their structure is in contradiction with all the rules of perspective. Richter created visual illusions, by retouching them. Like several projects of Richter, ‘9 Objekte’ challenges the image of reality, objective truth does not exist and we allow ourselves to be manipulated very easily.

‘9 Objekt’ made me think of Rein De Wilde still life series. What appears to be a conventional still life scene is in reality a strange combination of mainly mundane objects. He also includes the unseen objects of still life. He offers a blink of the surrounding environment, a room or studio and adhesive tape.

And surprisingly also Richter made some paintings with folding paper as the main subject.

The choice of the objects in combination with the often fragile arrangements and framing, offer challenge and discomfort. On top of this, Rein De Wilde uses a fragile light and soft pink and blue tones. This makes him a soft manipulator of reality.

SMAK Richter About Painting


On the occasion of the Gerhard Richter ‘About Painting’ exhibition at SMAK Ghent (Curator Martin Germann) I have chosen within the multitude of styles within the oeuvre of Richter some of his artworks and linked them with contemporary Belgian photographers.

Ein-heit & I Loved my Wife

Tine Guns
I can’t talk about editing in photography without mentioning Michael Schmidt. He believed that juxtaposing a series of photographs greatly increases their emotional power.


exhibition view Waffenruhe
“Waffenruhe reiterates a fact that has long seemed blindingly apparent to the more discerning photographer, that photographs must be put together like words, or individual movie frames, in order to sing their full song. It advocates persuasively that the most effective form of presentation for the straight photograph is probably the book. A vessel for the poetically juxtaposed sequence of images, the book becomes the primary artwork, rather then the necessarily less concentrated row of prints on a gallery wall.” Gerry Badger on Michael Schmidt’s Waffenruhe
Michael Schmidt was a german photographer who made amazing artist books. Most famous are his ‘Berlinbooks’ Waffenruhe (Ceasefire, 1987), which documents west Berlin in the years just before the wall came down and Ein-Heit (U-nit-y, 1996), which was made in the immediate wake of German reunification.
The splitting of the word Ein-Heit combines the euphoric state of the reunification with the widespread skepticism towards it.
The book merges pictures Schmidt’s own photographs of people in the united Berlin with pictures of propaganda pamphlets, newspapers, magazines and Nazi rallies. The sequencing is brilliant with interesting juxtapostions, but all pictures are printed without mentions of their historical meaning. Which makes them open to interpretation.
‘Each viewer is challenged to judge whether a given image represents East or West Germany, a villain or a victim, a moment in 1935, 1965, or 1995.’
The book is a complex, layered portrait of the German Identity, an exploration of history and the individual vs mass media.


Michael Schmidt, Ein-heit
I’m already looking forward to the retrospective of the artist’s work at the National Galerie Berlin in 2020.
Recently on facebook I got the question of Dieter De Lathauwer if I owned two copies of U-ni-ty. (which I gave away, so if I once gave you this book and you don’t want it anymore.. people might be interested :-) ) so the link for this article with Belgium was easily made.
I recently saw Dieter’s presentation of his own book at the Fomu Photobookweek. ‘I Loved My Wife-– Killing children is good for the economy’ is a book on the ‘Aktion T4’ a non-voluntary euthanasia program that was carried out in psychiatric institutions in Germany, Austria and occupied Poland. Thousands of ill children were killed because the cost of keeping them alive was ‘too high for society’. The title was borrowed from a Nazi propaganda film in which a man proudly declares that he has sacrificed his wife to the Nation.
The book combines pictures that Dieter de Lathauwer took of the psychiaric institions where Aktion T4 was performed in Austria with propaganda films stills.
The exhibition is on view until 2/4 at Botanique Brussels


Dieter De Lathauwer, I Loved My Wife

Michel Francois

Tine Guns

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 20.59.47

Back to Belgium :-)

Michel Francois is a multimedia artist who works with sculptures, video, installations and photography. It’s his photography where I shall shed a light on today.

Even in his photography Francois is very sculptural. Either in his framing (like the very interesting movement-series ) or in the way he uses them in the exhibition space like the way he presents his posters.

His posters

Since 1994, for each new exhibition, a large-scale poster was created by the artist from one his photographs. Quite often vistors could take this posters with them and leave the exhibition with the work. An interesting statement on the permanence of art



It’s the artist’s conviction that the meanings of a work of art are determined through its combination with others in relation to an exhibition space



I first discovered his work when I visited his expo ‘ La Plante en Nous’. Since then I treasure the accompagning exhibition catalogue/photobook

In his exhibition “La Plante and nous” he searches for the plant growing in all of us. The exhibition book takes you on a summer trip.  I can smell the warm scent of summer freedom. Even the busy businessman is photographed as a real Gospel Singer. With arms wide open and his eyes upwards (including sunglasses)  Enjoying the sun, diving into a lake, the cat and mouse game around the sprinkler in the garden, burying grandma on the beach, the crafting of a mask, blowing a dandelion flower, a structure of branches, bread crumbs for birds or just a giant cactus … But also the fiery deep human feelings that arise when there’s a silence during a revolt. It is these moments of everyday banality or rather mundane that Michel François captures, masters and sculpts

In our modern world of structures and rational logic he selects these fragments to grow as individuals. All categories in which he is interested (like nature, art, music, flora and fauna, science, …) overlap at that point of everyday greatness. His work consists of photographs, videos, films, sculptures, installations, sound, natural materials such as water, plants, flowers, trees, clay, but also soap or paper (etc …)



Amour & Voyeur

Tine Guns
This month I will select some artists who work with photography. Most of them work in the field between the still and the moving. And what better way to show the link between Cinema and Photography than highlighting the sequencing in photobooks?
So let’s Start this ride with the soundtrack of my first photobook  that started it all.
In the End it’s all about Love
From Amour to Voyeur; first Stop: Hans-Peter Feldmann.
This Dusseldorf based artist’s main activity has been collecting, organising and re-contextualising. His artist book ‘Voyeur’ is an ongoing project that already reached it’s 6th edition.
The book is a compact paperback printed in black and white.With found footage selected from a wide variety of sources: newspapers, movie stills, fashion photos, sports photos, advertising, science etc. By reducing them in size and eliminating their colour, the artist removed them from their orginal context and placed them in a collective inconography.
The only text in the book is on the last page, where Feldmann thanks “all the photographers whose pictures have been used for this work.”
If we, the voyeurs, start to read the book, the editing looks seemingly random at first . Altough the juxtapostions between the images are so well done that I assume they are placed deliberately. Like an emotional rollercoaster. I once gave it as a present to my friend and brilliant essay-filmmaker. He said the book read like a good film.
But the brilliance for me starts when reading another edition of the book. The same photographs are used but the spreads are in a different order. The idea of the image as a constant changing source of interpretation is a pure statement on editing.
Feldman’s editing, which eliminates captions and dates, releases photos from their functions and history, making them think about something from relationships between neighboring photographic images without any pulsation. This nonhierarchical view of Feldmann’s popular photo images supplied in the 20th century makes us realize how we are subjectively and unconsciously interpreting photos. (Charlotte Cotton “Contemporary Photography”)






the collector.jpgThe Collector. Tine Guns, coming up, 2017


Three weeks ago I rediscovered another book of Hans-Peter Feldmann thanks to my friend Bas. Das Kleine Möwenbuch.
“In the early 70’s I went with my girlfriend and my son on a 4 week vacation. I took 5 rolls of film with me to take some photographs. Back home, after the exposed films were developed, I found that I had taken pictures of almost nothing else but seagulls. There was though one picture of my girlfriend, at least one that showed one leg and one arm of her, and there were also two or three photos of my son. All the other pictures were of seagulls, as you can see in the book, which becomes now a late photo album of a vacation in Scotland.” Hans-Peter Feldmann.



Das kleine Möwenbuch. HansPeter Feldmann, 1975
It’s not the repetition of the seagulls why I love this book. It’s exactly the seemingly trivial pictures of Feldmann’s son that make it. The book wouldn’t have the feeling of a captured moment in space and time (like a vacation) without this pictures. With this pictures we feel the presence of the maker, who wanders off during a mountain walk, filming (photographing) the birds in the sky. But at a certain point the camera shifts, an image from above capturing the son, like the camera flies from the point of view of the birds towards the ground. It flies down and goes from bird eye to low angel and even frog eye. Ready to start of wandering off in the sky again…




“I am not interested in the high points of life. Only five minutes of every day are interesting. I want to show the rest, normal life.” Hans-Peter Feldmann



Emmanuel d'Autreppe

“Mon axe principal est de mélanger ma collecte photographique, qui se réalise parfois de façon appliquée et réfléchie, parfois de façon hasardeuse. Ensuite, il s’agit de rassembler mes images et d’en écrire une histoire. Non pas la mienne, car même si je ne m’en exclus pas, mon travail n’est pas du tout autobiographique; ce sont plutôt des histoires du monde, des histoires de vies, de territoires, de formes, d’horizons et de regards portés que l’image raconte.”

ALEXANDRE CHRISTIAENS est né à Bruxelles en 1962. Il vit et travaille à Dave, près de Namur (Belgique). Autodidacte en photographie pour l’essentiel, il est avant tout un passionné de voyages et de la mer. En 1999, il effectuait une série de séjours entre l’Ile de Wight, Portsmouth, Ostende, Venise, Calais, Douvres et la Côte d’Opale, utilisant divers appareils argentiques pour fixer sur pellicule une série d’impressions photographiques qu’il intitulera “Marines”. Ce sera le début d’une nouvelle orientation artistique, à laquelle il se consacre depuis lors pleinement.

Alexandre Christiaens entreprend ensuite des périples photographiques dans le monde entier (Grèce, Inde, Brésil, Russie, Chine…), à la recherche des réseaux portuaires, des villes et des mégapoles en prise directe avec les mers et les océans, traquant la matière, de face, aussi bien que les à-côtés de la mondialisation. Mais ses expérimentations sur l’impression en noir et blanc le poussent à s’intéresser, dans le même temps, au rendu des roches et des concrétions: en 2007, il réalise la série “Grotesques, concrétions et paysages”, qui alterne des paysages solaires et des images réalisées avec une petite quantité de lumière dans les entrailles de la terre.

“Les déambulations passagères d’un voyageur débordé du monde” : c’est ainsi que le photographe, pour qui le déplacement vers des destinations lointaines est la condition essentielle pour créer, résume l’histoire de ses photographies. En Roumanie, en Estonie, en Russie, en Inde, au Brésil, au Chili tout récemment, en Turquie, en Chine ou au milieu de l’océan Atlantique, il s’agit pour lui de se frotter au monde, d’interroger sa structure, de traquer la présence ou de sonder les absences, d’enregistrer d’un même tenant les vibrations de l’histoire (y compris et avant tout celle des vieilles pierres, qu’il confronte volontiers à la mer) et celles de la lumière. Entre ses différentes séries photographiques (paysages industriels, grottes, fronts de mer, marines…) se créent des liens qui tissent une vision sensible et aiguë du monde, attentive tout autant au changement extérieur qu’aux déplacements incessants de la conscience intérieure. Les photographies qu’Alexandre Christiaens ramène de ses voyages nous parlent autant du globe qu’il parcourt, que d’un monde intérieur qui transparaît en filigrane, se mélange et se superpose à ses clichés. Dans un second temps, il aime considérer les images glanées comme des matières nouvelles et autonomes, expérimentant les nouveaux discours ou les nouvelles approches qui peuvent surgir de leur rencontre, de leur juxtaposition – car s’il arrive à son regard d’être inquiet ou mélancolique, son rapport aux images demeure joyeux et tonique.

La singularité de sa pratique lui a valu peu à peu une large reconnaissance: nombreuses expositions en Belgique et à l’étranger, publication à ce jour de deux ouvrages monographiques (“Eaux vives, peaux mortes” chez Yellow Now en 2012, et “Estonia”, en collaboration avec Carl Havelange, aux Impressions nouvelles en 2015), participation à de nombreuses manifestations collectives, etc. Il anime aussi de nombreux ateliers et pratique régulièrement des activités d’enseignement, sans pour autant que son travail cède aux facilités ou aux conventions des modes ou de l’esprit du temps.

Photographe libre et indépendant, inclassable et sinueux, Alexandre Christiaens met en rapport des territoires, des lieux, des formes, de l’aléatoire et de l’humain – tantôt présent, tantôt suggéré –, dans un savant dosage, une intense confrontation d’ordre et de désordre. Tout se joue dans la dualité de densité de la matière et de légèreté des airs, d’obscurité et de lumière, ou encore, de profonds silences opposés à l’activité frénétique des hommes et des machines. C’est un explorateur de notre temps mais hors du temps: en équilibre en marge de la photographie dominante, aux marges du monde, au bord du cadre comme au bord de l’eau… 

Emmanuel d’Autreppe


Chili, Valparaiso, 2015

Boston, Cowes, océan Atlantique, 2013

Boston, Cowes, océan Atlantique, 2013.


Chili, Torres del Paine, 2015.


Grèce, Voyage à Cythère, 2002.


Grèce, Voyage à Cythère, 2002.


Chine, Qingdao, 2015.


Chine, Qingdao, 2015.
Boston, Cowes, océan Atlantique, 2013.


Inde, Mandvi, 2008.


Inde, Bhavnagar, 2008.


Chine, Beijing, 2005.


Chili, Punta Arena,  2015.


Chili, Valparaiso, 2015.


Chili, Valparaiso, 2015.


Turquie, Istanbul, 2012.


Chine, Beijing, 2005.


Inde, Mumbai, 2008.


Inde, Mumbai, 2008.


Chili, Valparaiso, 2015.


Chili, Chiloé, 2015.


 Air, 2015.





Maarten Dings













In de weekendkrant van 23/24 juli lees ik dat een foto niet meer bestaat. Toch niet op of in onze smartphones. Dit dacht ik te weten (afgaande op de rooskleurigheid die ik, met behulp van filters, her en der zie passeren) maar het blijkt nog verregaander dan gedacht. Er is zelfs een term voor: ‘Computational Photography’. Jaren geleden maakte ik mij vrolijk over de (toen revolutionaire) digitale techniek die glimlachende gezichten voor de lens herkende. Inmiddels blijkt elke digitale foto in wezen vals te zijn. Samengestelde leugentjes voor eigen bestwil. Het fotografisch weefsel (vroeger ‘korrel’, tegenwoordig ‘pixel’) blijkt instabiel. Je weet niet wat je ziet.
Het deed me denken aan een andere kijkervaring die ik recent had. Tijdens de eindejaarstentoonstelling van de KASK in Gent, was (evenals hierboven) werk van Marthe Coolens te zien. Net als haar afstuderende collega Arne Naert (die een fascinerende experimentele documentaire toonde) speelt Coolens met deze oppervlakte-instabiliteit. Haar (dé)collages zijn samengesteld uit beelden afkomstig van het internet. Ze raken onthecht van hun oorspronkelijke context en worden als bouwstenen gebruikt bij het fabriceren van nieuwe beelden. Mijn kijken raakte prettig ontregeld en mij ogen schoten heen en weer over het beeldoppervlak. Er is geen houvast maar toch maant het kijken mij tot rust. Wordt het kijken haast ‘tactiel’. Eigenlijk is het leuker om bovenstaande beelden in het echt te zien omdat daar (offline) het contrast tussen scherpte en onscherpte nog conflictueuzer oogt.
Op banners of raamstickers van doorgaans wat goedkopere eethuizen kom je ook wel eens van die beelden tegen: In een te lage resolutie naar de drukker gestuurd en daarmee de fotografische illusie op aandoenlijke wijze doorprikkend. “Hallo, ik ben een foto” lijken ze te willen zeggen.
ps: te bekijken bij deze  klassieker van The Honeymoon Killers.