Substitute
 

The actual sites these images are taken at are gravel pits and slag heaps. None of the portrait objects is larger than the human body.

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Archival Pigment Prints, Alu Dibond/Acrylic Glas (110cmx135cm, 43"x53"), 2002


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„These images only seem to come from high mountain ranges. In reality, Bergbauer finds them on the side of the road. By misdirecting our perceptions, the photographer brings into focus the contradictions of illusion and truth, appearance and reality, which the new media of photography, film and video do not resolve, but first reveal their true complexity.

The seduction is based on a more or less convincing illusion. It uses the marginless or frameless image as an argument, suggesting that what is visible might extend into infinity. Thus, the illusion is based not only on a manipulation of proportions but also, and in a particular way, on the isolation of a specific form.

Beyond this, Bergbauer's ”mountain photography” picks up a thread Romantic art theory developed using the concept of the sublime. The ”terror-sublime” explores the intellectual and visual dimensions of the human world. The fascination and the chill one invariably feels points beyond pure pleasure in the beautiful, because what we view has aesthetic charm but also potential for the destruction of the human existence. The photographer has declared his nine-part series ”substitutes” a kind of visual analysis of the potential emotional effect of landscape forms. In doing so, he has consciously positioned himself as a successor of the English painters Alexander Cozens and John Constable, who during the second half of the 18th century posited a concordance between certain nature compositions (”species of landscape”) and the feelings they evoked. (…) With his substitute mountains, Bergbauer evokes and reveals the image of undisturbed nature as an illusion without, however, blending out beauty and the ability to awaken enthusiasm. In the oscillating play with belief and disbelief in and about what is depicted, the viewer is being pointed back to the medium through the illusion of the motif and its power of expression.“

From ”After Nature - Photographic Images between Illusion and Reality” by Ulrike Lorenz, Exhibition catalog Gerhard-von-Reutern-Haus, Willingshausen, 2003


 John Constable,  Various Species, No.2, Tops of Hills or Mountains , 1771 | Alexander Cozens,  Study of Sky , 1780

John Constable, Various Species, No.2, Tops of Hills or Mountains, 1771 | Alexander Cozens, Study of Sky, 1780