The quiet of dissolution, Ice storm

Sonja Braas

Date : 2005

Medium : Photography

Size : 159,1x206,5 cm

C-print, diasec

"The countryside is the modelling of nature by man. Here modelling means that man imagines it, fools it, venerates it, identifies it, defines it and maps it out and also models it to his own idea, cultivating it, exploiting and copying it. Man's relationship with nature develops with the importance it holds for him. My work is associated with the perception of nature and the landscape. I am particularly interested in the themes of copying, repetition and reproduction of nature and its influence on perception, etc.; These landscapes are not associated with defined, existing geographic regions but are only suggested, at the same time covering the various climatic and topological zones of landscapes as exhaustively as possible by the photographs presented in order to create a fictitious world atlas." 

The guide

This forest is hardly inviting. A quick glance at Sonja Braas’ photograph and an icy chill runs through you.

This dense network of frozen cables forbids access to a decidedly hostile natural landscape.

But what are we looking at exactly? Underbrush petrified with ice, a tangle of electrical wires brought down by a storm, the cave of a monstrous spider: the list goes on.

If we cannot identify this landscape it is because in reality it does not exist. Let me explain. The German artist aims to create an exhaustive inventory of the climatic zones and meteorological phenomena to be found on the surface of the earth: volcanic eruptions, tornados, waves, snowstorms, and so on.
All this, while remaining within her studio!

What you see is a simple maquette, a panorama that has never existed except in the imagination of the artist. 

With their emphasis on the power of the elements, do Braas’ photographs remind you of anything?
These images uphold the grand tradition of German Romantic painting, but Braas updates the discourse by using photography as her medium and by introducing a fictional disturbance. 

As the title emphasises, calm reigns over this apocalyptic tableau, fixed in a frozen atmosphere. In a romantic vein, Braas dwells on the force of nature, on its character, which is by definition uncontrollable. But in reproducing this same nature, in mimicking it, she introduces into this fanciful landscape a supplementary and contradictory element: culture.

Nature, filtered through the artist’s prism and thus seen from a human perspective, becomes a mastered space.