Wibke von Bonin / english
About the Photographs
of André Wagner
Wibke von Bonin
In the 19th century photography superseded painting as a means for the visual depiction of reality. It wasn’t until recently that art history has acknowledged the two as equal art forms. Detached from the documentary aspect of photography, art photography, with the help of all the possibilities provided by the technology, gives rise to a universe where the artist’s and the observer’s imagination interact with one another.
The words of Paul Virilio apply in particular to André Wagner’s photography:
“In fact, a photography is not the representation of an absent object, but of an object present for a brief moment of time in front of the camera lens, the iconic proof of its passage: the transit, or passage of the image, that confirms its concrete presence, here and now, before the viewer. Thus, photography makes present the act of passage itself; the object passed this way along its path … All photography is therefore a photo finish, the recording of the arrival of the end of a path that is generally unknown to viewers.”1
André Wagner learned photography as a trade and has won prizes for his -documentaries. Today he regards himself as an artist who creates his own world of art. In this book, he -provides insights into various themes to which he has devoted himself. The works lead the viewer into a fascinating world of light and darkness, enigma and secrecy.
The artist stages his pictures. He puts light into the dark center of a background image or he moves light through a nocturnal landscape and shows it approaching or disappearing. He makes time visible by sending light bearers through the darkness of the space and documenting them in their courses. The time exposure is one of the most obvious features of his photographs. With it, he succeeds in capturing time in space on a surface: -Visions of Time.
In general it can be assumed that the recognizable elements of reality on the photographic image spontaneously lead the viewer’s line of inquiry in the direction chosen by the photographer. But many times there remains uncertainty about his intentions that can’t be accounted for by the matter-of-fact explanations of the technical procedure used for producing the image. It is about content.
What is the image’s subject? What has inspired the artist to capture a pre-existing one in this particular way?
André Wagner is also a romantic. He travels to places that promise him the chance of having extreme authentic experiences. Often humans are absent from the images. Lonely trees appear as they never have before. There are silent birch forests, brightly blossoming meadows, rugged coastlines, nocturnal cities. Or the opposite; as when he dives into the colorful exoticism of India. He observes people performing their rituals and gives visual form to their inner light.
In all of these environments he seeks and finds himself always anew in an ever novel function – as a pilgrim, as someone who is listening, seeing and showing. By dematerializing and thus rendering himself invisible as the bearer of orbiting light sources, he himself becomes the expression of his thought while the image transforms into a medium of his energy.
Since light has become available as a cheap and abundant resource that can be switched on at the flick of a switch and shines on all surfaces, it has lost its true meaning, its past magic and its secret. André Wagner gives all of it back. He is a magician of light.
1 Paul Virilio, in: The promise of photography, edited by Luminita Sabau, Munich 1998