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Torn and stained, yet beautiful – A different kind of photography

Roberto Ohrt, researcher of and writer about art, is co-teaching a class titled "Extremes of Photography" at the Alte Saline, together with Elfie Semotan. Yesterday, he talked about accidental photography, meaning photos that might be blurred, damaged, or maltreated, and artists that let this happen on purpose or use such photos. He explains how in the early 20th century, photography had become interesting as it could show things we normally don’t see, like electricity and lighting. The mystically inclined took this further and were the first to use what you could call wasted pictures, interpreting imperfections as spirits and other presences. An artist to pick this up and ridicule in his work is Francis Bacon, who would treat photographs leasurely, letting them fall on the floor unimpressed by the food and paint stains they gathered through this. This reminds of Miroslav Tichý, the eccentric photographer who would roam the streets of his native Kyjov village, always in search of his coveted motive, women. He is a complete autodidact, his cameras and darkroom made himself from whatever materials he could find, and not being careful in the least. Stains, tears, a fly in the negative, it’s all part of the artistic process.

This motion he shares with the surralist movement, but what with his works happen by chance, surrealists like Guy Debord would destroy photos and film they found on purpose, going as far as showing a 90 minute film composed only of black and white screens. They would also use failed pictures like a woman with 4 eyes that seemed to come right from another plane of reality. An altogether approach can be found with artist like Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter, who also ridiculed the aforementioned ghost pictures apearing in tabloids. Sigmar Polke also took his characteristic dots straight from newspaper photos. Gerhard Richter, on the other hand, uses different photos as direct templates for his paintings, incorporating blurriness and faults in the pictures. like in a painting of bathing women that, seeing just a photo of it , might well be from Miroslav Tichý. Like this, Roberto Ohrt led an alert audience through a short history of accidental photography. Now, with old analog ways of photography turning vintage and interesting, also because the materials are hard to obtain, we'll be waiting to see how the road continues.


26/08/10 09:52 SummerAcademy 2010
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