Monday, March 16, 2015

Annelies Štrba | Noonday

Annelies Štrba
Zurich, Switzerland: Lars Müller Publishers, 2015
336 pp., 17.3 × 24 cm., hardcover
Edition size unknown

Annelies Štrba was born in Zug, Switzerland in 1947. She has been the subject of one person exhibitions in the United States, England, France, Germany, and Switzerland, at venues such as Frith Street Gallery, Tate Liverpool, Douglas Hyde Gallery, and Thread Waxing Space. She is best known for photographs of children, particularly her own. In 2002, the East London gallery Rhodes + Mann faced prosecution for an image of her daughter (reportedly 12, but actually 16) naked in the bathtub.

Noonday (the title is inspired by the final stanza of Emily Brontë's A Day Dream) can be regarded as a sequel to her book Shades of Time, published almost twenty years ago, also by Lars Müller Publishers. But whereas that collection featured raw and direct photographs of Hiroshima, Chernobyl, and Auschwitz, these images are more leisurely and melancholic. Intimate moments with the artist's family (her grandchildren, in particular) are captured in the village of Haworth, Yorkshire.

The book avoids the style of Štrba's 2002 title Aya, which contained digitally altered images saturated with colour and a painterly feel, but presumably Štrba is interested in the Haworth as portrayed in Brontë's Wuthering Heights, rather than the reality of the time. When the Brontë sisters were writing, over-crowded cemeteries filled with poorly-sealed graves led to the highest early mortality rate in England, with almost half of all children failing to make it to age ten.

We see cemeteries here, but if they are dreary at all, it is because of rainfall. There are a few other sites around town, but the volume mostly consists of costumed children playing, swimming and napping.

Accompanying the photographs is a text by Elisa Tamaschke titled "Magic and Loss", quoting from one of Lou Reed's more tender lyrics:

There's a bit of magic in everything
and then some loss to even things out

The line closes the song and album of the same name, from 1992, a disc about the death of two of Reed's close friends (Rotten Rita, from Warhol's Factory and songwriter Doc Pomus).

There is no death here, and the 'summer afternoon' feel of the photographs suggest the only loss being recorded is that of time.

The book is available from the publishers, here, for €49.00 / $65.00 / £39.00.

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