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Issue No. 17 - Enigma

Helene Schmitz: Kudzu Project at Turn Gallery

Image above: © Helene Schmitz, Alabama Fields, 2013 / Courtesy of Helene Schmitz and Turn Gallery

Turn Gallery presented Swedish photographer Helene Schmitz’s first solo exhibit in the United States on October 21st, 2015. Schmitz has exhibited throughout Scandinavia, Europe, and Japan. Her photographs are represented at the collection of Moderna Muséet in Stockholm. Schmitz has also produced four award winning photography books.

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Image above: © Helene Schmitz, The Highway View, 2013 / Courtesy of Helene Schmitz and Turn Gallery

In the summer of 2012, Helene Schmitz traveled through Georgia and Alabama with her 8 x 10 large format camera, and with a long and complicated process captured the fascinating phenomenon of the Kudzu plant. Schmitz’s interest is not to document but rather to place us in front of the power of nature and the impermanence of things.

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Image above: Portrait of the artist, Helene Schmitz during the opening at Turn Gallery © Monika Piatkiewicz

Kudzu is the most invasive vegetative species in the world. In the late 19th century Kudzu was presented as a gift to the American people from Japan. Kudzu’s grand beautiful leaves and rapid growth aroused admiration among Americans. However, in the early 20th century botanists raised concerns regarding the invasiveness of the species. Their warnings were ignored by Americans who refused to believe something so beautiful could be so harmful. In the 1950’s authorities began focusing on how to exterminate Kudzu, and have failed to this day.

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Image above: During the opening at Turn Gallery © Monika Piatkiewicz

This exhibit of large black and white photographs is a visual meditation. Schmitz’s richness of detail evokes an appearance of three-dimensionality -- a David Lynch-esque cinematic feel where landscapes are transformed into the unfamiliar. We ask ourselves -- are these climbing and coiling, dense leafed creatures friend or foe? Schmitz’s photographs press against the surface and seem to have a life of their own, wanting to step out of the picture plane and assume control over our space as well. Schmitz turns our preconceived ideas of nature upside down.

_MG_1031Image above: During the opening at Turn Gallery © Monika Piatkiewicz

Schmitz’s Kudzu Project raises many questions. Our modern imagination seems to thrive on a form of nature that strikes back – from the generic mutations in our inner being, to disasters of varying amplitude. Ruins of our works that nature has reclaimed no longer promise a time of redemption and sense, but rather the total loss of meaning – not so much because the meaning of nature per se has been inverted, but because it has become perverted through our attempts to control it. In Schmitz’s Kudzu Project, our domination of nature strikes back at us. The Kudzu Project runs From Oct 21 – November 29.

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Image above: © Helene Schmitz, Untitled, 2013 / Courtesy of Helene Schmitz and Turn Gallery

THE PHOTOGRAPHY MASTER RETREAT

PHOTOGRAPHS BY KELLY KLEIN: RECEPTION AND BOOK-SIGNING AT NEUE GALERIE