Tales from the Empire of Gnomes – photographs from the countryside
2012 – 2013
It has always fascinated me to study places and then capture them through photography. The center of my interest is usually the human being – how we live and what surrounds us. While shooting this series I asked myself: How do I fit in here, how do I feel? The often unpleasant proximity to other people in small-town areas and my own roots were the triggers for this series.
»Tales from the Empire of Gnomes« is a kind of suburban story. The focus is on capturing the life habits of the suburbs protagonists. This is then combined with self-portraits. The photographs work as a kind of sketch, a quick impression – sometimes precise, sometimes vague.
Alexander Norton – Intimacy With Space, featured in Paper Journal
»The space around us and how it is inhabited is a crucial component of living. Having this awareness is quite a beautiful thing; it relies on regular occurrences. It might be the way we present our possessions in the corner of a room, or how we put our plate on our desk and where our knives and forks lie. There is no right or wrong way of doing this. It is an extension from natural and normal behaviour. It ties with our need to belong, at least for a short period of time until we move to another destination. I have spent the past 5 or 6 years arranging my things into rooms such as lounges and kitchens, yet never fully committing to a particular place. The notion of commitment is a scary prospect. When I consider the space around me, why I am there and what I am doing within it it, ties to a very emotional connection to whatever we dream and strive for. It is the place we reside after the sun goes down. It is home.
Concealed into perfect windows of time, Anne-Sophie Stolz’s Tales from the Empire of Gnomes radiates a sense of belonging. They are places where we can temporarily exude our feelings; a private space where there is no judgement on what we do because no one can see. But we need to be seen. If we lie invisible in the world, our existence is not known to anyone and you become an ‘any’ person. Pictures act as a key tool of remembrance; they become paused for the moment that either tells the truth or lies through its teeth. If we want to hide from the world we can, and we can place a lie onto the sensors and negatives of our cameras. At this point, photography is at its most personal.
We need to feel a kinship with our surroundings; we need to feel something from the stone paved walls on the corner. We need to feel something.
It is the ‘come and see what I look like at this point in my life’, where the act of photographing is a lonely experience, but it needs to be. It happens all the time when you look around and it’s all so familiar when it once made us worry and flurry about with a mild rush. We know the area so we no longer need to concern ourselves with it.
Within these photographs there is a radius of escapism that becomes impossible to ignore; the water gently kisses our arms, the rise and fall of the naturally circulated water becomes comforting. They help to make us feel comfortable as we discover our place in the landscape we have chosen.
This feeling is so effortless and simple and the need to take a picture defies questioning. I have always felt a kinship with the notion within photography that we exist, and that is the best thing it does. It remembers a particular moment when you tell it to. For the camera has no heart, thoughts, feelings, no nothing; it is just a machine. It is the people that work the machine and use it to capture these feelings that carry the notion of remembering. We forget, that if we don’t do anything then nothing gets done. If we do not venture from the house or engage with society, we have nothing to blame but our own decisions to not act upon this impulse. Such feelings are fairly difficult to digest, but so crucial. It is the quiet moment as you sit there and think. Take time to go outside, photograph yourself, and see how you look in the light of the morning sun. Show the world you existed.
And just like the way we decorate our spaces with our belongings, we brand everything we touch, until we leave it for another.«
> published in the second issue of STILL Magazin. STILL presents photo art and young literature.
> once-over – virtual gallery. 5th Fotofestival Mannheim-Ludwigshafen-Heidelberg.
> shown at »L6« Freiburg, 2016.