Ute Behrend works with pairs of images, which function as visual narratives, as in her series Second Glance and Conifer Club on view at the Alfred Ehrhardt Foundation. Her juxtapositions create a realm of associations pointing beyond the individual photograph. The artist draws on the fact that our capacity for visual association functions more rapidly than our language system. In contrast to language or writing, photography is a very direct communicative medium that actively inserts itself into our world of imagination. The poetical force of her images arises from their ability to evoke deep feelings or a sense of unease, which are not readily explicable. For Ute Behrend »intuition and the search for clarity« are the most important parameters guiding her artistic work.
In her series Conifer Club, conceived specifically for the Alfred Ehrhardt Foundation, the artist explores a social phenomenon and its institutionalization; serving and stand-ins and manifestations of private and public notions of representational display, conifers are robbed of their freedom and »beautified.« Pruned trees and hedges also bear witness to the »preprogrammed failure of the moving attempt to lend their own existence a magnitude of some order« (Ute Behrend). Conifers are often found in certain city neighborhoods or villages, where they silently testify to an overt creative will. The desire of the homeowner for an easily maintainable garden sometimes leads to quite dreary results. Conifers seem to be an ideal means of remedying this. They also block the view from without, guaranteeing privacy and answering the need for security. For this reason it was not always easy for the photographer to take the pictures in this series. She was eyed distrustfully and accosted. Her license plate number was written down. She was yelled at and in the end—ironically—even photographed. »As to the plant, the question remains: Do our lovely brothers and sisters enjoy what one does to them? Hard to say, but one thing is certain; they resist their imposed forms. They are only interested in light, and all their daily efforts strive in this direction—towards true greatness.« (Ute Behrend)