OF LANDSCAPES AND PLACES
on YVONNE OSWALD's photography
Travel and holidays, nowadays are inseparable social and society political matters of course. Everybody makes holidays. Thereby people thrive to gather experiences, be it at home or abroad or discover things, but most of all not to be disappointed. In any case the holiday-makers want to be spoiled, as not only clients but also guests want to be considered “kings”.
But how do the places appear where people spend their holidays? Is there still the original picture to experience? Or have they been altered to please the guests? Is the landscape still the same as it was, or has it been remodeled in such way that it lost its originality? Brooks are straitened, paths asphalted, meadows become heaps of rocks, forests are cleared to give way to ski slopes or chair-lifts transporting tourists to the peaks. Comfortable and with ease.
OUT OF SEASON is the title Yvonne Oswald gave to her photo series dealing with holidays. Not from the viewpoint of the guests, also not from the viewpoint of the hosts, if you can call places, hotels and inns, but specially landscapes, a host. She sees it from the artists standpoint trying to research the originality of the landscapes, the houses, streets and places outside the touristic seasons.
She visits the places, not as a tourist, but with the curiosity of a person who wants to know: what happens then – after the guests are gone. She envisaged the places out of, or better after the touristic seasons. She waited with her trip until all the different early, main and late touristic seasons with their different prices and their different public are over and the landscapes, the places and houses find back to their nativeness, can rest for a while. She wanted to know, have these places found back to their originality? Or is it lost forever? Are they part of the past – like old memories?
“The beauty of landscape lies in its melancholy” this is the motto of her journey she took from the turkish poet Ahmet Rasim, as for her it is the right approach of understanding nature with its ever repeating circles of death and resurrection, but also with the secret of metamorphosis through art. Melancholy often turned to sorrow about the loss of originality and aura she saw and watched. But as artist Yvonne oswald has transformed this sorrow into an artistic form, has found the beauty which lies in decay even loss, if one is able to see “behind” things. With her “third eye” as she says.
She watches the empty terrace through the window, chairs are piled, rain runs down the glass panel, parasols and tables disappear in the snow, a plastic chair longtime forgotten in shallow water offers a bizarre picture, on the snow covered landing stage only a few gulls.
Silence and an eerie calmness mark the landscape. The days are short, the forest is really “black and silent”, the lake as grey as the sky, the water heavy and without brightness, no sunshine is reflected in the waves. The villages are given back to their inhabitants, the windows are closed, everything appears deserted, it seems as if not only the guests have departed but also the locals. You rarely see them, as if, exhausted by the loud and hectic holidays of others they invisibly retreated into their houses.
All this is recounted in the photos. Every single picture can tell a story but also leaves space for associations and makes the contemplator think of their own visits in holiday resorts, summerly walks, boating trips and swimming, vesper tine get together with other guests, resulting in superficial friendships, soon forgotten when at home.
Yvonne Oswald strolls around with her camera, she is concentrated and knows exactly how to capture this special moment that expresses the motive as she wishes. The gull just flying away from the landing stage, the rain leaving a special structure on table, a snowy landscape reflected in a window. Nothing is manipulated, as it is so easily done on computers today, “she paints with her camera” says Cajetan Grill her curator. Interesting for the artist is the intimacy, the originality, the “behind”, even in the bereavement she is seeking the pristine sense, hopes that the practical essential requirements do not destroy the originality. So she asks herself if, after all the seasons, the original will resurface again or if commerce has finally ruined provenance.
So the melancholic mood that is reflected in Yvonne Oswald’s photos has a double sense: the worry and sorrow over loss, but the beauty and poesy of transience. She conciliates the awareness of the eternal circuit of nature as it is so impressively demonstrated in the seasons. Beside that she is enchanted by solitude. The tranquility of nature and the desertion of places and buildings. Suddenly everything seems useless, the terraces and landing stages have no function. Only for the next season will they be cleaned and freshly painted, the windows will be bright again and the tables and chairs will be awaiting the guests.
But now everything is still and the artist can surrender to the melancholic charm. She understands photography as an artistic process, she does not approach her object with matter of fact coolness, nor with analytic intellect, but with a near romantic yearning for beauty also in loss, for the mystical emptiness after the often superficial fulness. Reflective and well prepared Yvonne Oswald advances her issue, she reads a lot, she studies her subject profoundly. Only when she knows what she wants the camera comes into action. With routine and high skills, with concentration but also playful earnest she tackles her work. But always also with the consciousness for the decisive fact that the realisation lies within the imponderability and the unconscious. Only so will the result be an artistic one, unique and original – this is the moment of felicity for the artist.
Journalist, author, curator