'I want to find ways to show photographs as objects in the space.' An interview with Judith
In her installations, Judith Dorothea Gerke plays with perception and materiality, turning photographs into sculptural elements. Judith graduated from UdK Berlin in July 2017 and was interviewed by Art Springboard's Wolfram Schnelle in August 2017.
Wolfram Schnelle: Could you explain what you’re dealing with in your work – using your degree show presentation as a starting point?
Judith Dorothea Gerke: My work deals with the medium of photography and the relationship between photography and sculpture. I studied with Manfred Pernice in the class called 'Objekt-Bild-Hauerei'. I want to find ways to show photographs as objects in the space. This year’s work was a focused look at this. With a macro lens, I took pictures of photo prints, skin, ceramics and textile. The different elements become one photo, the photo as a print becomes an object. The different layers merge, cover each other; there are repeated and relating movements, shapes, shadows, colours in all the different materials. I then combined these photos with lots of different images of objects and material from my everyday life.
WS: Tell me something about the subject in your images. Skin seems to play an important role.
JDG: One example of the photos that I just described is this one (pictured above). The series is called photography and sculpture. There is a printed photo that shows an elbow, next to it actual skin, a ceramic and some fabric. The combination happened quite intuitively. In this case, I was interested in the movement of the ceramic together with the movement of the elbow, the moles and how the different shadows relate to each other and almost become one.
Physicality, or materiality, is very present in my works. If you look at the images, you might recognize yoghurt or a grapefruit whereas many other people might think it could be meat or tissue. The body as such is something that interests me, including how we nurture our bodies, with food for example, and our relationship to it. Aesthetically I also think it’s very interesting.
WS: Tell me more about the relationship between sculpture and photography that you mentioned earlier.
JDG: Every image is an observation of an object, whether it’s the body, products, food or a house. Photos as prints are also objects to me. I play with the way I print my photos and combine the different methods and materials. Every printing method has its own characteristics. Here, for example, you have an image of knees printed on fabric. The fabric helps to imitate movement, and the photo is then part of a textile object.
The space is also important to me and I like to respond to it. I specifically chose the area with a transparent glass background to show these photographs as a sculptural installation.
WS: When is a work finished for you? When have you reached a point when you say that you’re happy with a work?
JDG: Usually I work towards a deadline. Only once the work is installed in the space is it really finished.
WS: What was the title of your final presentation?
JDG: It was called In deinen Augen in deinen Armen (In your eyes, in your arms). It was about looking. Looking at an object and looking at a person. It was also about the act of touching something or hugging someone. Skin and relationships played an important role. With relationships I mean the relation between humans, between materials and surfaces, but also the relationship between the images or objects.
WS: What influence does the fact that image making is readily available for everybody and everywhere have?
JDG: I think what is different now is the perspective, how close we can get to the objects we photograph with an iPhone. As well as how close we are with the phone. You take pictures of food or other things you like and you get much closer than when you use a traditional camera. That is something I was imitating in my last work using a macro lens. It’s a lot about fragments that are captured.
WS: Tell me about how you use different materials, taking your exhibition from last year, where you used ceramics and coats together with your photographs, as an example.
JDG: The work Faceoff had four components. The ceramics gave shape to or held the photographs, which were printed on acrylic glass and regular prints. In terms of content, the coats I used created a relation to fashion, and communication was a main concern. I made ceramics inspired by emoticons, so that the larger photographs printed on acrylic glass were later like messages, with an emoticon at the end, the small ceramics. They also had to hold the photo, the message. Other ceramics were fabric-inspired and held simple photo prints. I combined photos from my everyday photography with photos that I made in the studio and all these elements communicate with each other.
With this work I was interested in how we change through technology and wanted to give a sense of the isolation that comes with this technology and is also reflected in fashion – for example in the baseball cap that shields our view and prevents us from making eye contact with others, makes us concentrate on the screen.
WS: What influences your work?
JDG: I'm mostly inspired by my everyday life, my friends and my family.
WS: How was your experience at UdK Berlin, in relation to your work but also personally?
JDG: The most important aspect was certainly building up a network. I also learned to look at things more closely and question my decisions and trust them.
To learn more about the artist, click here
To see all works by Judith Dorothea Gerke, click here