illex is honored and pleased to welcome German photographer Thomas Albdorf. Thomas’s work displays an artistic drive that engages and enlivens the creative spirit.
Please enjoy his photographs and interview :)
Spraypaint Horizontal, from the series “Lucent”
3 Circles [Blue], from the series “Objects”
Silver Diagonal [tape on wood / stone], from the series “Diagonals”
Bicycle Wheel [Ode to Marcel Duchamp], from the series “Sculptures”
In your series Objects, what is the significance of placing man-made geometrical objects in a natural setting?
About one year ago I wasn’t pleased with my current photography, I had the feeling that most of my works lacked something that I couldn’t specify. That’s when I started my “Objects” series, where I placed simple geometric shapes like circles, cubes, and rectangles in places that are usually associated with secluded romanticism, mainly the woods.I had this idea when I discovered John Baldessari’s method of appropriating found photographs via sticking simple dots on the faces of people in photos. I simply transferred this method to the actual place where the photograph is being taken in order to disorganize it. Very similar to Baldessari’s collages, those simple objects that I create are supposed to work as acts of interference that create a moment of disturbance, uncanny yet absurd; due to their geometrical simplicity they function as a counterbalance to the highly textured, dense structures of the surrounding woods, and in addition the artificial geometrical shapes are not repeated within the surroundings. I chose the woods as the environment for most of my interventions mainly due to the fact that these places are rarely confronted with human presence, and pretty much never with art. Secondly it is very unlikely that someone disturbs me while I arrange the settings. I think I couldn’t create those interventions in an urban environment.
How important is color to your work? In “Spraypaint Horizontal” for example, what is the relationship between the bright pink of the horizontal and the surrounding browns and greens and blues?
I always loved the combination of more unsaturated hues with one bright color. I still use it‚ for example‚ most of the time in my graphic design. When I started the interventions in the woods, I noticed that the objects I used had to set themselves apart from the environment. Shape and color had to be more recognizable. So using a similar color composition for the scenario in front of the camera felt natural. What color I choose for a specific situation or object is influenced by many factors, I’m pretty sure most of them are mainly subconscious. I’m aware that I always try to use very basic colors that will not be repeated excessively in the surroundings. But what exactly contributed to the pink of “Spraypaint Horizontal”, I’m not sure
In “Silver Diagonal”, the connection between materials and lines is both confounding and enlightening. How did you come to create this photograph?
This very simple sculpture was triggered by my preoccupation / fascination with Dan Flavin at the time I created it, although the actual photo has nothing to do with Flavin’s “Diagonals”, their only similarity being the diagonal itself. I wanted to work with duct tape because it’s compact, light-weight and therefore easy to carry around, so it seemed a perfect material to create fast and simple interventions. In the title and the caption I tried not to hide anything, I wanted to give concrete information about the materials used‚ similar to an explanatory text you would find for every other sculpture. “Silver” refers to the factual color of the duct tape, “tape on wood / stone” lists the other materials included. On one hand this method ironically plays with the discrepancy between a “regular sculpture” (whatever that may be) and my diagonal that only persisted for a few minutes, was deconstructed afterwards and now only exists in a photograph. On the other hand I wanted to clarify that I’m serious about this photograph, that, for me, it works as an actual sculpture.
For your series Sculptures, you assemble on-site found objects into particular arrangements. In looking at “Bicycle Wheel”, can you tell us about the process of bringing these pieces together.
“Bicycle Wheel [Ode to Marcel Duchamp]” is assembled from garbage I found near a highway, directly at the site where I discovered the littered objects. At the time I built it I began to discover the importance of Duchamp for contemporary art on a different level, and his works were (and still are) very present in my mind; as I saw the small bike that was missing one wheel and the white commode, these two objects simply materialized in my head as a hommage to Duchamp’s first-ever Ready-made. All the sculptures I created from on-site found objects so far refer to mainly five artists that work with more or less similar strategies: Marcel Duchamp, Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Roman Signer, and Erwin Wurm (I consciously realized these influences bit by bit weeks or months after I took the first photos).
In creating the arrangements and photographs for your Sculptures series, have you ever surprised yourself by what you’ve found and assembled?
It’s not possible to plan these photographs, due to the simple fact that I have to work with the materials I find on-site. This was a rather frustrating aspect when I started to work, but I recently reached a point where I realized that it is not so much about the materials, but rather about the process of arrangement itself, a trial and error which helps to mix up fixed patterns in my mind – you can compare it to a child playing with building blocks. So yes, ideally I surprise myself every time I manage to built a sculpture that I like.
please visit Thomas’s website and Flickr for more ingenius and thoughtful photography.