Otto Becker Olaf
The Political Landscape
For over twenty-five years landscape photography represents the main interest of the research work of Olaf Otto Becker. It shows, in a particular way the visible traces of human over-population in abandoned areas; in which converges complexity of scientific, political and artistic nature analysis and has an ideological value(1). The series Ilulissat and Broken Line are a reflection on human sensitivity and can be read as nature sentimental analysis whose primary common aspects are taken from painting of the XVIII and XIX centuries. However, this subject has not always occupied a respectable position in the history of art.
The impact on the romantic landscape given by Caspar David Friedrich has forged a particular aesthetic thought with his portrayals such as: 'The Sea of Ice (The Shipwreck of Hope)' of 1823, lining up an observation of nature deeply linked to an existential introspection and a precise imaginary.
The Arctic regions have become preponderant, thanks to the publication of William Bradford 'The Arctic Regions: Illustrated with Photographs Taken on an Art Expedition to Greenland', published in
London in 1873 by the famous Sampson Low, Marston, Low, and Searle.
It was one of the most important photo books of the nineteenth century, some of the images were taken with a camera that had a negative dimension of about 46 to 30 centimeters.
The series Ilulissat from Olaf Otto Becker is the result of his travels along the west coast of Greenland, not in a steamer for an expedition and a crew, but alone, in a small inflatable Zodiac raft. Both, again citing Bradford, reached approximately the same location on the map, around seventy degrees north, in Melville Bay. More importantly, as in Bradford’s expedition, Becker’s intentions are always both artistic and scientific.
His documentary work has a profound lyric poetry. Revealing the dramatic beauty of the overwhelming blanket of ice; at the same time showing its transience, because here, in the uninhabited region of Greenland, human influence and climate change have fatal consequences: dust and soot, in the form of black air combined with global warming, accelerating the melting of the plates with catastrophic results; no longer avoidable.
The details that emerge from each job, are a masterful set for the process of formation of: holes, channels, stratification levels, even great underground lakes; revealing the inescapable intensity of the sublime.
A technical view of the author – Becker’s photography is of great size and has a necessarily slow construction process that begins by determining what needs to be photographed, followed by: the use of a tripod, the camera and the necessary time to adjust the focus. The preparation is meticulous and methodical. The procedure is almost a ritual that is repeated many times. The images produced which have as their subject the photograph of the landscape often tend to have a formal impact and at the same time profoundly contemplative, as in the case of Becker.
(1) M. Warnke, political landscape. For a history of the social transformations of nature, published in Italy by the Catholic University, 1996.
Olaf Otto Becker ( born in Lübeck-Travemünde, Germany in 1959). Initially influenced by Josef Koudelka, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Russian photography; for then among others approaching photographers as Americans: Meyerowitz, Misrach, Paul Graham, Stephen Shore, Lewis Baltz, Robert Adams. He’s a refined traveler whose skill lies in narrating the most distant and wild corners of the globe.
Among the many international exhibitions in which he participated, we include: El Paso Museum of Art, Texas; Tufts University Art Gallery, Boston; Whatcom Museum, Bellingham, Washington; Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, Nevada; The Alt + 1000 Festival de Photographie de mountains, Rossiniere, Switzerland; at The 2nd International Festival for Photography, Iang Gallery, Seoul; at the International Photo Festival Ulsan, South Korea; The National Museum of Photography, Copenhagen; in 2008 at a Solo Project, with the Gallery f 5,6 to ART Basel.
Camilla Boemio is a curator, a critic of contemporary art, and a consultant of university research projects whose analysis practice treats the participation policies of guardianship and the art-science current. Boemio has co-founded and directs the AAC platform and is a associate curator of APT - Artist Pension Trust.
Her writings and interviews have appeared in various publications, sector magazines and catalogs.
She has helped to realize 'Portable Nation' published by Maretti editor and supported by the Berkeley Center for New Media; She’s currently working on a new publication about photography with the University of Derby, England; and on a chapter of 'Territories of Trauma and Decay' essay, with Punctum Books.