Shadow and Light
Photography and Film
March 6 to June 26, 2016

Darren Almond (b. 1971 in Wigan, England) takes long-exposure photographs on cloudless nights with a full moon. “During a long exposure, you never see what you are photographing,” says Almond, “but you give the landscape more time to express itself.” In his works, the symbiotic connection between light and time becomes visible and almost frozen – thus, the moving water of rivers and seas consolidates into a foggy, foamy substance, the contours of a landscape swim out of focus and the moon clothes nature in the spherical light of fairy-tales. The nocturnal panoramas create a lighting situation that the human eye would be unable to behold otherwise, distorting the familiar and making it appear foreign. These special characteristics of Darren Almond’s photographs are also visible in his views of the chalk cliffs of Rügen and morbid winter landscapes in Siberia, which are central to the ALTANA Art Collection’s holdings and could be considered the initial works for this exhibition.

Fullmoon@Eifel 2, 2010

Geographically, the exhibition spans Rügen and the Eifel region in Germany, Italy and France, extending all the way to Russia, Japan and Indonesia. By following the traces of landscape painters such as William Turner, Carl Blechen and Caspar David Friedrich with his camera, Darren Almond pursues his interest in the great discovery journeys of the 18th and 19th centuries, interweaving the abstract terms and notions of time, light and space in his oeuvre. With the chalk cliffs of Rügen, he has chosen a motif that Caspar David Friedrich recorded in an 1818 painting that was to provide the programme for an entire epoch in art history. In his photographs of 2004 and 2015, Almond turns the familiar, romantic motif of the chalk cliffs into bizarrely familiar yet disconcerting nocturnal landscapes, evoking an apparent approximation between Earth and the surface of the moon, seemingly inapproachable and mysterious in their surreal appearance.

In his video works, Darren Almond focuses on human beings – including his work Bearing. In a troubling close-up, he films the face of a sulphur miner working in a craggy volcano in Java, Indonesia, under demoralising conditions. The repetitive breaths and steps of the miner and the rasping sound of the load dissolve the known units of time, fathoming space and time anew in this consuming Sisyphus work, made almost palpable for the viewer. Thus, shadow and light – on the one hand, the two faces of man, on the other, elementary natural phenomena – form the fundamental pillars of Darren Almond’s work.

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