Series Equivalents – 2016

formaten tot 65 x 50 cm

These photographic images are taken just as they presented themselves somewhere, in a complete different context compared to for this example this website. Nevertheless, the expression of these images here are to say equivalent to images ‘once there’.  But they do also exist on their own, made specific and  given meaning by your personal impression: the aesthetic experience enables you to connect exclusively with this image and vice versa. 

As an artist and a poet I explore the expressive capacity of image and word, assuming that there is much more to see and to hear than there is at first glance. Pictures and language, despite their high level of ‘cognitive reality’, still hide unknown meanings and expressions.  It is then necessary to distract  the viewer from day-to-day and routine observations in order to enable him and her to get an idea of what kind of truth is behind the image, and behind the words of the poem. 

The North American photographer Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946) is recognized as one of the first artists who went beyond reality by real photographic images. Someone who made the first abstract photographs by intention. He made series of photographs of clouds, mostly without indication of time and place in it. He called them Equivalents.

Man (looking at a Stieglitz Equivalent): Is this a photograph of water?
Stieglitz: What difference does it make of what it is a photograph?
Man: But is it a photograph of water?
Stieglitz: I tell you it does not matter.
Man: Well, then, is it a picture of the sky?
Stieglitz: It happens to be a picture of the sky. But I cannot understand why that is of any importance.

Stieglitz certainly knew what he had achieved in these pictures. Writing about his Equivalents to Hart Crane, he declared: “I know exactly what I have photographed. I know I have done something that has never been done…I also know that there is more of the really abstract in some ‘representation’ than in most of the dead representations of the so-called abstract so fashionable now’. (in: Hilton Kramer 1982) 

New York Times art critic Andy Grundberg said The Equivalents “remain photography’s most radical demonstration of faith in the existence of a reality behind and beyond that offered by the world of appearances. They are intended to function evocatively, like music, and they express a desire to leave behind the physical world, a desire symbolized by the virtual absence of horizon and scale clues within the frame. Emotion resides solely in form, they assert, not in the specifics of time and place” (Grundberg, Andy (1983-02-13). “Photography View: Stieglitz felt the pull of two cultures”. New York Times).

I admire Stieglitz since I became aware of his successful attempt to combine  factual and aesthetic meaning in a photographic picture. I am convinced that we as human beings are approached preferably not only by rationality, by cognitive information, alone. We do need appeals to our senses, to our feeling of beauty and by that to our ideas of justice. Stieglitz opened my eyes to that, up till today, and his work inspired me to explore theory and practice of his equivalents.