Exploration of the effect of the language and materiality of photography and its relationship to human perception is at the heart of Silke Grossmann’s artistic work. At the same time she constantly examines man’s affinity for his immediate surroundings, be it in in a landscape – as in this exhibition, devised specifically for Movements along the Periphery at the Alfred Ehrhardt Stiftung – or in the urban realm as in earlier works.
Her “partial portraits” are embedded in a nature that she probes and feels, that she approaches; with which she seeks a dialogue and to which she builds up closeness. At the same time her physical presence is always implied in the image, for her concern is to experience a landscape through all physical senses in a process of constant transformation: »Landscape, or rather remote pieces of nature in my photographs are understood as an undirected space that surrounds me: a space that moves the gaze, a space in which I linger, a space that I experience slowly as I walk along. Position and movement of the observing subject are part of the pictorial occurrence – the margin of the image is thought of as a permeable membrane. Perception originates not only in the eyes but in the whole body and also takes in the space behind our back«. As a consequence choreographically dynamic, cinematically conceived black-and-white sequences are created in which she loses the overview of the landscape and the horizon. She prefers such amorphous landscapes as Northern German meadows and dunes, which move constantly, cannot be captured and deliver only very few geographic clues. The famous film essayist Frieda Grafe described Silke Grossmann’s deliberately sought weightlessness and lack of orientation as »circling of the square«.
In this exhibition the artist makes use of the possibilities of digital image production with a wall display that extends across the whole length of the exhibition space in the form of an image montage. The other half of the exhibition shows analogue silver gelatine prints. Silke Grossmann utilizes the interdependency of image and space in between, of image arrangement and image medium. As professor of photography at the Hamburg University of Fine Arts in the department Graphic Art / Typography / Photography, she examines photography in the context of other arts as well as media correspondences to, for instance, experimental film or the book as an independent artistic object. Not only has she published her own books and experimental photography films but also contributes to the editorial work of the university’s Materialverlag, has supervised numerous publications and co-founded edition fotografie, which she edits.
Therefore it is hardly surprising that she takes up the compositional styles of photobooks. In her pictorial groups the white spaces are compositional elements that hold together the overall picture in a balanced »ield of movement«. The montage of these alu-dibond laminated digital prints is arranged on the same plane. This allows a different internal elevation than is possible with classic barite prints, as they are commonly surrounded by passe-partouts, delimited from the wall by their frames and protected by a pane of glass. She hereby takes up another phenomenon of our perception: »One has a field of vision which continues, in which peripheral perception plays an important role. What you see in the centre you can be sure of, so to speak, and what happens along the periphery is the exciting, the uncertain. Movements are registered the most sensitively out of the corner of the eye, in an archaic way like animals, which have to be able to recognize dangers emerging from the periphery instantly.« Movements along the Periphery invites visitors to focus their gaze on their own existence in the natural environment.