Podbielski Contemporary proudly presenting:
22 NOVEMBER 2014 – 17 JANUARY 2015
When the carnival season transforms the streets of western Germany, Loredana Nemes sets up a black cloth near Aachen Town Hall, places a chair in front of it and then chooses people from the surrounding chaos and invites them to have their portrait taken. Having prepared their presentation for the Weiberfastnacht and Rosenmontag – the last Thursday and Monday before Lent – they can now play them out a second time on her temporary stage.
Confronted with such an enormous choice of possible costumes reflecting the dreams and fantasies of their wearers, Nemes instinctively chooses people with less elaborate disguises. In the simple clarity of their roles, her chosen performers offer a wider span of possible associations. Like good actors they combine a strong presence with the ability to hide their own personality. They are less conspicuous and their delicate fragility makes them less easy to identify, so that each member of her audience sees something different. Although prepared to disport themselves for a brief moment upon her stage, they hide themselves, as though they bore a special inner secret.
So here we have the princess with the blond curls who shyly faces the camera, furtively twisting her fingers. Or the man with the two party blowers on his head; is he in the grip of insanity, about to do something quite improper? Or is this just a special performance to confuse us? Is the boy with the black mask Batman’s young sidekick, Robin? Or even one of the Beagle Boys? He seems rather too fragile and transparent for either role.
Nemes hardly speaks during the photo session. Despite the madness of the Rhineland carnival that surrounds her, she creates the inner peace that characterises her intense pictures. Her subjects are caught in transit between cautious inhibition and total release; as if the pressure produced by the heat of the extraordinary situation had opened a valve and blown a hole in the stratosphere through which the inner energies could escape. The transfiguration of the carnival – “the fifth season” – turns them inside out to expose the hidden corners of their souls … bottomless deeps, normally concealed. The resulting catharsis produces a purity, almost a sanctity, that lives on within these portraits.
Visually, what happens is the opposite of an explosion – as though the black cloth in the background had absorbed all sound. As if an absolute zero had been established from where everything else could be redefined. Her neutral experimental set-up levels out all her subjects, so creating a supra-individual connection beyond origin, age or gender. Was the equality of slave and master not a feature of the carnival from its very beginnings? One cannot help thinking of a pack of cards: the Jack, Queen, King and Ace are watching us.
On the occasion of the exhibition The Presentation, a brochure with an essay by Dr. Christiane Stahl will be published.