The universe is built on a plan – 2012


What does spirituality mean for you? What do you orientate at? Do you believe that in the Western world there is a lack of spirituality?

AW: Spirituality for me happens in the inside. It’s nothing superficial and also does not have anything to do with materialism. The focus lies beyond the layer of past and future. It’s the present, the moment which is important. Why? Past has already passed, it’s not to change but future isn’t there yet. Where do I have space to interact then? In the present or in the moment, where one is able to be preoccupied totally by observing, reflecting and changing anything contemporarily.

Photography is able to give a much differentiated picture of a single moment. If I am conscious about what happens around me and if I am able to observe it, it creates many questions and leads to a constant term of self-reflexion. Photography is my medium to communicate myself, to provoke questions and to show experience.

Since when have you been interested in Eastern philosophy? When did you get in touch with Indian spirituality? Why have you started to make it a theme in your work?

AW: Since my youth I have been interested in life considering all its different shapes, not only in Eastern philosophy. Eastern philosophy communicates a simple clearness of life through its inherent wisdom. These principles of life have become part of my thinking and affect my work subconsciously. The different philosophical aspects are visible in my photographs, when I adopt different themes which I want to focus on. For example both elements fire and water. If they are themes in a single photograph they are able to counteract or to produce a certain kind of excitement. If you take them out of a context of nature, they are both part of creation. Fire gives us warmth and light, water preserves our body.

Philosophy has helped me to watch different aspects. In the Indian myth of creation there it is spoken about 5 elements and how these are built up on each other. Also they believe that those 5 elements (air, fire, water, earth and space) are standing for creation itself, because they are contained in everything, in the materialistic world and also in bodies of beings. In the materialistic world a permanent change happens. It’s a law of nature. It means creation, conservation but also destruction. Something accrues, stays for some time and then falls apart. I want to inspire people with my work to consider everything as being connected.

Do you believe we are living in a world growing together or rather growing apart?

AW: We will be confrontated with extern influences and through this often will be distracted subconsciously and won’t appreciate essential values of life. This might be the cause for our own sub consciousness. The own enjoyment often is more important than sharing it with each other.

How are you reaching a point of satisfaction in rapid everyday life?

AW: I go by my own speed and try not to enforce different things. This is what I find in photography again and again. When I take a picture, everything has to be right. A good photo always has something to to with the right moment, the right position and the attitude of mind, which one has in that certain moment. This moment, in which I find the situation, in which everything seems to be working, is something very magical for me. I know, when I come to a place like that, there is something waiting for me which I have been searching for a long time. Pictures I do are like staircases I climb up… I would say they are like the top of a mountain which you have reached looking for the magic of the moment…

(Photograph „Spiritual Stairs“)

How do you find your inspiration?

AW: In my case I feel inspired by a certain situation or by nature itself. I let myself be guided. I love to travel and to discover the world. On my journeys I often have ideas, themes and questions. I am looking for places and situations which give some answers and inspirations for my photographs. For example a yellow rinser on my lense will only let through yellow light, blue light won’t get through onto the film. That means everything which has the power to be my model inspires me. This inspirations starts to flow and I dive into the moment and then I am in my element which means to take photographs.

Do you believe the universe is built on a plan? If yes which plan are you thinking of?

AW: The law of nature proofs it. A plan always means orderliness; coincidence would mean there was chaos. I believe nature has a plan. Clouds hover and without vegetation there were no clouds; the law of gravity, the tides, seasons etc. they are only a few examples of everything in nature which happens systematically. Coincidence is not very powerful in nature.

Which idea did you want to prove with „Three Elements“?

AW: In this motive a lot of ideas and observations flew into the motive at the same time.

I took this photograph in Devaprayag, Himalaya in 2004. Two monks have helped me with the realization of it. My instruction for them was to follow their inner perception at the riverside of Ganges. I gave them an imaginary picture, which said it was same as when heights and low levels of the DAX were presented at trading floors. The river represents fleeting of time, coming and going by, because nothing lasts forever. Fire for me is a symbol of knowledge, which brings some light into the darkness.

In your works monks have helped you. When and how did your collaboration with them start and why was it so important for you that they carried the fire?

AW: Because monks have dedicated their own life to the question „Who am I?“ and have gained knowledge about it from old religious traditions. They give this to humanity. For me they are optimal carriers of fire and they are quiet thinkers of society. In old scriptures a lack of knowledge is compared to darkness and knowledge is compared to fire, which destroys the ignorance with its light.

Did it make any difference for you to conceive and realize the photographs of the series „Romance of elements“ in different countries?

AW: In the first pictures of my series „Romance of elements“, fire for me meant the completion of a spray can. Before that I have been bothered about graffiti. The original word for ‘photography’ in Greek means „to write with light“. For me it was a change from painting into photography. I wanted to continue my movement in different spaces in form of fire drawings and wanted to employ myself with a new way of making a self-portrait. Usually a self-portrait means to show a body or just a face of oneself. But in „romance of elements“ the idea of making a self-portrait or rather a portrait rather is important in a metaphysical layer. Another person or I myself move in form of a fire light. Because of that it becomes an impression of time of a movement in space.

(Photograph „Torchlight“)

If you are looking at a non-spiritual world, what are you looking at?

AW: A durance of time which is shaped by fading fortune and sorrow. Contrasts which repeat again and again, which alternate but don’t exist at the same time. In Eastern philosophy one speaks about the process of creation, protection and destruction. In my series „Romance of Silence“ I follow the process of temporariness.

Do you think we have reached a point of satisfaction considering the constructions and development of identity in comparison to other cultures? Which cultures reach more or less satisfaction and why?

AW: Everybody can only reflect this for him- or herself. In every culture there are good and bad influences. For me the key of satisfaction lies in personal autonomy.

Interview: Nicole F. Loeser