WANDER AROUND WITH GOSSAGE AND THOREAU LOOKING FOR SCHMIDT

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/HDK-Valand - Högskolan för konst och design

Abstract: I was looking for a monument but instead I found an anonymous patch of grass in a cemetery in Berlin which marked the grave of photographer Michel Schmidt. In an attempt to understand I had to go backward into my own history to find reasons why I was standing there. With this essay I will try to identify certain key places, figures and occurrence that have formed me as a photographer in an attempt answer my own questions. My point of departure is a conversation, or more correctly a shouting, I had with Lewis Baltz in a noise intersection surrounded by cars in 1996. This was the first time I heard about John Gossage and his book The Pond. When I finally got hold of a copy (this was pre- internet as of today when you just google everything) and looked at the pictures and tried to follow Gossage steps into the bushes, around the Pond and back to civilization. I connected Gossage`s book with Henry David Thoreau and his work Walden from 1854. (You didn’t need to be a rocket scientist because Gossage had ripped a page from Thoreau’s book as his last image – The Pond) I have been reading Thoreau from time to time the last 30 years or so. I ́m in no means an expert but, Walden; or Life in the Woods has an ability to create an imaginary room from where I can fantasize and daydream. The cabin he built overlooking the pond Walden has a real sense of place. This is what I ́m looking or trying to achieve in photography, to have a first-hand experience and capture the spirit of place. The Norwegian architect Christian Norberg-Schulz introduced the term Genius Loci – Spirit of Place in his book Towards a Phenomenology of Architecture from 1980 where he tries to “investigate the psychic implications of architecture rather than its practical side”. For me, some places have more meaning and interest than others. In photography I ́m trying to make images of this meaning, or as in this essay find meaning inside text and artworks in relation to my own experience.

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