Thomas Florschuetz is fascinated by the physicality of objects in space
The German representative at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Thomas Florschuetz, has on display a motley collection of his works: large panels of photographs of buildings from Berlin, the Californian desert and from Brasilia. Then there are the “fragmented” photographs of military planes in the American desert, and one still life photograph, of fruit.
A regular-sized photograph (at the exhibition) by Florschuetz is at least over 1m80 by 2m25 while the larger triptychs can be as large as 2m23 by 1m70.The size partly reflects Thomas’s style; what he partly intends to do with works that size is to impact its space with its sheer presence. “I always want the work to have a physical impact, a physical presence in space. This way, I hope people will think about images and the way it affects them,” explains Thomas, who was in the city to talk about his art (photography) in a lecture titled “Bodies and Buildings” at the Max Mueller Bhavan.
His first series of work, where he captured parts of his own body, reflects his fascination with the physicality of objects in space more deeply. “I started this series in the first half of the 80s and I continued doing this until mid-90s. Then in 1997, I felt I would like to broaden my subject a bit, so I began photographing the window of my studio for a few months. I called it ‘Multiple Entry’ and a large body of work came out of this,” he recalls. “That was the point when I opened up to include other subjects into my work. I began with considering flowers or fruits, vegetables as physical forms… as extensions of my body, some of which are as precious and fragile.”
Then he moved on from nature, to objects that are inspired by nature, first by capturing military jets in the American desert. “These airplanes or jets are familiar to the body. If you abstract them, you see that their construction is inspired by the forms of birds or fish.” But in these compositions, in the series titled “Jets”, he shows only parts of the bodies of the airplanes, just like in his body parts series.
Most often, his photographs, across all his major series, are juxtaposed in diptychs, triptychs or multiple panel that forms a complete piece. “I would describe my photography as something that shows fragmentation, where the completion has to be done by viewer. Sometimes you try to hide something to show something and you try to show something that is not obvious, as there is always something behind it.”
But since the mid-2000s, his work evolved to include architecture, almost predominantly, as an extension of his fascination with objects in space. “The series on architecture began with my earlier series on windows. But what I capture is not really architecture. It comes from a personal approach, since I began with my body. I was interested in certain buildings, by architects like Le Corbusier, Oscar Niemeyer and Louis Kahn, who belong to modernist architecture of the 20 century.”
Two other sites in Berlin — the Palace of the Republic and the Neues Museum — have been important subjects in Florschuetz’s work.
These buildings partly interest him for their historical and political significance. Here too, he captures mainly parts of the buildings which were being broken down or reconstructed.
Light plays a major role in his photography and many times, it is from the perspective of light that the subject in his photographs is revealed. “Light is the most important thing in photography, through which I am essentially capturing things in a particular moment of time. And within a few seconds, light can make the same object appear different,” he explains.