Negatives bleached to positive purity

Art February 20, 2018 01:00

By The Nation

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Jakrin von Bueren, a photographer who rejects digital photography, will have an exhibition at Bangkok’s Kathmandu Photo Gallery from March 10 to April 28. “An Instinct for Surprise (Don’t Know the Reason, I Just Like It)” will have an opening party on March 10 at 6.30pm.

The Bangkok-born and bred Thai-German, who studied fashion photography at the London College of Fashion, “absorbs the pageantry of life like a porous leaf in sunshine”, the gallery says in its promotion.

“In a field worn out by imitation and cross-imitation, how rare to discover a hatchling self-identified ‘fashion photographer’ with a totally fresh eye, becoming himself the source of creativity and inspiration; an artist.

“One catches fashion like a disease, through sensory contact. Like the other arts, but on the literally superficial level, the dimension of appearances, fashion reflects the emanations of the world at a given moment.

“Originators of designs and looks that others copy send out their feelers to be seduced by the sensory conversation. As with Shakespearean synesthesia, they can hear colours and see sounds, taste good and evil and sniff out fake memes and real. Jakrin talks to us wordlessly of ideas and ideals through singing colours and visual sounds, through youth and the acidic ravages of time.”

“I like not being able to see the images immediately,” says von Bueren. “I like the surprise when I see my work later. For the rotten effects, the vinegar and rusting wire wool, the bleaching, the words of peace from the Bible, Psalm 46/9: ‘He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire’ – I don’t know the reason, I just like it.”

“Jakrin’s photographs,” says curator Manit Sriwanichpoom, “are fresh and vibrant with the energy of youth yet simultaneously imbued with alchemy, spiritual and physical; he has the guts to take crazy risks to achieve interesting work.

“His portraits of his models and his friends revive our memories of what it was like to be a teenager. Immaculate faces unlined by life contradict eyes full of anxiety over future uncertainties; they can struggle meanwhile to search for identity through fashionable clothes.

“To get at what is beyond such superficial expression, Jakrin corrodes his black and white negatives with bleach and vinegar, sometimes immersing them for months to rot and ripen in extraordinary ways, as in the series ‘Decay: Degeneration of All Things’ (2015) and ‘Skinheads: A Political Statement Turned Fashion Subculture’ (2016).

“Even now, the source negatives of these pictures are still continuing their transformation.”

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