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Capturing magic with a Leica
Latest Updated by 2005-11-08 11:33:07

GERMAN photographer Udo Remmes pursues a form of high art by focusing his lenses on people and scenes backstage in European theaters.

"The atmosphere backstage is very special because it is a place between worlds; between familiar everyday reality and the world of stage. On those boards, the world is both real and unreal. This is a necessary paradox because the artificial world of the theater and particularly drama is based on real life situations. It conveys impressions that cannot be invoked by any other form of art," Remmes said.

Remmes came to Shenzhen to attend the opening of his photography exhibition at the He Xiangning Art Gallery on Friday.

The exhibition features 129 photographs by the German photographer. The show follows a one-month exhibition in Beijing in September.

Different from other photography exhibitions, there were no captions or explanatory notes, which puzzled some viewers.

"This is because I want my audience to focus on my photographs and I believe art can speak for itself," Remmes said.

Trained at the New York Institute of Photography in the United States, Remmes, 51, is a radiologist as well as a professional photographer.

"Photography plays a very important role in my life. On the scientific side, photographs serves the medical and analytical diagnosis of the human body. On the emotional side, it is a means of expressing my feelings in images and formal symbols, as I perceive them," Remmes said.

Remmes strongly objects to the view that art is an imitation of nature. Instead, he believes that photography has equal footing with any other form of art.

"Photography is always strongly subjective. For me, every photo is the individual expression of the photographer, his nature and culture. It unites myth and science. It demonstrates life processes and structures," he said.

"The camera is my pen and paper. I write and draw with light. I try to create little poems and sketches of people and things that move me or touch me," Remmes said.

At the opening ceremony of the photography exhibition, Michael Muller-Verweyen, director of the Goethe Institute in Hong Kong, commented on Remmes' theater photography.

"Documentation is not the leading idea behind the photographic work of Remmes. He captures moments when the hard work of acting transmutes into art. He gives us the opportunity to share moments of concentration and contemplation, moments of exhaustion and happiness. He shows theater performance as a result of a creative but thoroughly designed process," said Muller-Verweyen.

"And this is the fascinating side of his photographic work. It does not aim at the destruction of the magic of theater or opera, it is a glimpse behind the curtain without investigative purpose or attitude," he said.

In his work, Remmes pays special attention to backstage details and atmosphere.

"I feel this unique and unforgettable atmosphere most intensely behind the scenes during performances, when the actors switch realities, often from one second to the next," Remmes said.

"Yet I found the best access to this real state of unreality further downstream at theater workshops, in the scenery store and costume wardrobe. The path leads through rehearsals, makeup and wardrobe, culminating in the one small step from behind the curtain onto the open stage. This is where drama is transformed into an art form," he said.

Remmes believes no guided tour of a theater can ever convey what an amazing and fantastic show takes place there, again and again, evening after evening.

"I had the rewarding opportunity of accompanying people to several European theaters on their journeys between these realities. I attempted to take notes and write little poems with light on celluloid and send them into the outside world; because we outsiders are curious to know what is behind the magic of the theater and how it is created," Remmes said.

"Yet it is not my intention to reveal or unveil this magic, or to document it. Rather, I want my photographs to tell little stories that leave scope for individual imagination and encourage people to go to the theater regularly and expose themselves to this magic," he said.

Remmes prefers to use the traditional mechanical Leica M6 and Hasselblad midformat cameras, although he does not deny that digital cameras are a new way to take pictures.

Editor: Wing

By:Newman Huo Source:Szdaily web edition
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