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12 August 2009

Annelies Strba, Shades of time

Annelies Strba has been photographing members of her family for several decades now. Partial fuzziness, over-exposure and graininess characterise the shots taken for Shades of Time, which first brought her greater prominence. The photographs, apart from landscape shots, primarily depict her children Sonja, Linda and Samuel as well as her partner and the grandmother of her children. In the later shots, her own grandchildren feature more prominently—a family idyll the artist appears to have captured in passing with her camera.

The images testify to her love of a simple life, a strong relationship with the natural world and great interest in the everyday. Objective documentary photography, however, is certainly not what Strba has in mind. The quality of the photos lies more in the ambiguity derived from the time and the mood they convey, which is at times quite magical. The photos outline a utopian togetherness and provide a nostalgic review of past times.

Despite the intimacy they convey, the photos are by no means ‘private’ or revealing. In a subtle, effortless way, the photographs document human relationships, childhood and the coming of age between fantasy and a sense of reality, the process of seeing oneself in one’s own offspring and fleeting memories of the irrevocable past. In particular, the juxtaposition of three images at a time during the slide show and the way the images fade in and out, overlaid with suggestive melodies, seem to accentuate the associative nature of memory.

Annelies Strba is represented by Frith Street London Galery and Anton Meier Galery, Genevia.

Shades of Time, 1974-1997, video show with 245 slides in three sets, soundtrack Isabel Fluri.

Exhibition venue: Atelier de Mécanique, Parc des Ateliers, Rencontres d’Arles 2009.