Susanne Kriemann

277569, 2012
21 cibachrome prints in pass partout in frame, 33 x 39 cm each
slide projection: 80 slides, 6 x 6 cm, 3-4’
Courtesy of the artist

“Stories from the past that collide with my present thoughts; that is what inspires me to create a new piece. What fascinates me is the dialogue between the ‘Now’ and what has gone before, events that have already gone down in history. I am looking for very specific pictures in archives and in doing so, I find others that open up new perspectives. I then produce pictures myself, that, for their part, also enter a dialogue with the found pictures and with the places where these were taken. A new structure is created from these connections. The subjects of my work are always linked to the history of photography. They deal with issues like: what is there of the documentary, the fictional, the everyday in photography?”

Susanne Kriemann’s 80-piece slide projection (277569) presents photographs of a green wooded area. As such, the images give little information about the historical status of the territory that they explore from a bird’s eye perspective. In fact, however, it is the area that was flown over 277,569 times during the Berlin Airlift in 1948/49, also marking the start of the Cold War. Kriemann approaches the photographic mode of that age and explores the southernmost of the three former air corridors from a helicopter. Zoomed images penetrating into the wooded area alternate with panoramic views, but whatever lies beneath the green canopy of leaves remains hidden. The pictures ultimately take on a generic nature and in their universality remain abstract. Aside from the historical tension that is generated only by the adaptation of the photographic process, these pictures remain strangely placeless and timeless. They seem documentary in nature but actually they do not really document a subject, but instead a historical connection by means of an appropriative re-enactment. The historical images from the Cold War era are contained in an archive, the results of the reconnaissance flights that observe territorial changes and aim to record them in photographic documents. Today we have satellites and Google Earth to observe extensive regions of the planet for us. However, the pictures produced by these tools are not essentially different to those from the historical archives and Kriemann’s own photographically recorded explorations of space: abstract images of a rather unspecific territory that, simply due to their enormous number, make it hard to evaluate the data and raise doubts as to whether they increase our knowledge. The perspective from above – which has become familiar to the human eye although it does not correspond to our own mode of seeing – nonetheless holds the promise of an all-seeing, all-understanding gaze.

Susanne Kriemann (1972, Erlangen, Germany) is an artist working and living in Berlin. In 2010, she was awarded the GASAG Art Prize and a solo exhibition at Berlinische Galerie, where she presented material from her extensive series ‘Ashes and broken brickwork of a logical theory’, which has also appeared at Künstlerhaus Stuttgart, 2009, Kiosk Gent, 2010, RaebervonStenglin Zürich, 2010 and CAG Vancouver, 2010.
Currently Susanne Kriemann is an advising researcher at the Jan Van Eyck Academy in Maastricht, the Netherlands, where she is continuing her exploration of the power of archives. She incorporates her own photographs with those she has extracted from the vaults of the past, creating works that are not only visually associative but also contextually related, so that a many-layered narrative begins to appear when viewing her projects.

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