|Dimensions||38 x 28 x 1 cm|
Edition of three hundred, 2013
The question of family origins, and its significance to biography, is underpinned by correspondence between constructed ‘house’ sculptures and portraits of young women. Bahlsen reveals interior worlds with ample space for freely associative interpretation.
Acquired by the Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection, Kunsthøgskolen i Oslo, Lafayette College and the Museum of Modern Art.
Out of stock
|Dimensions||38 x 28 x 1 cm|
Clara Bahlsen’s Töchter (Daughters) is a softly spoken, mysterious work. Portraits of young women in their mid to late twenties, whose eye contact is directed towards the viewer, are framed adjacent to concrete assemblages. The work is a meditation on women entering adulthood and the domestic constructions that begin to shape their lives; moving towards the years traditionally governed by marriage and children.
“I started to take pictures of women of different ages and had already calling the work Daughters,” Clara explains. “But as I proceeded with the portraits it came to my notice that all the pictures of women roughly my age were much more intense. I discovered that I am more direct and in a way more at ease with women of my age.”
The concrete sculptural arrangements, which make up almost half of the photobook plates, conjure up visions of strange houses, impossible dwellings that could only exist in the mind of the unconscious. The decision to create a project encompassing both the portraits and sculptures was an organic one, says Clara. “Whilst photographing portraits of young women, I had been collecting pieces of concrete rubble from a demolished house and bringing them to my studio. I combined the pieces of concrete to make simple sculptures. As the portraits came together, I hung them as a series on my studio wall. It just happened that I saw the sculptures on the floor with the portraits on the wall and it seemed right and strong. From that point on I started to collect more and more fragments of demolished homes from Berlin’s many construction sites.”
“The houses and portraits both talk about the same subject – they are strong and fragile in the same moment.” Clara agrees that the sculptures look almost akin to children’s building blocks, and that they mirror they way “we try to start again and again.” The work takes on another dimension when considering Berlin’s recent decision to become the first German city to introduce a rent cap – ensuring that younger and lower income individuals aren’t priced out of the property market.
The outcome of this initially disparate combination of forms, is Töchter – a work about building homes, both literal and metaphorical; the transient years between adolescence and family life, about origins and destinations. The women in the images were told to think about their mothers whilst Clara photographed them. “I see portraits more as a dialogue between the photographer and the person in front of the camera. I don’t believe that photographs show someone’s personality. It’s a picture and the person who took it is to a varying degree visible in the picture herself.”
The photobook is reminiscent of a fashion magazine; simultaneously low budget and luxe. “I wanted Töchter to feel a little like a magazine that’s why I choose the big size and an open binding,” elaborates Clara. “If you remove the dust jacket from the book all the text is gone; you remove the context and only the pictures remain. Just like a magazine it is supposed to become outdated in a way. I wanted to highlight the fact that my observations on the subject are just a moment in time.” A moment in time perhaps, but one that undoubtedly captivates the viewer.
Clara Bahlsen studied visual communication at the University of the Arts Berlin and graduated as a masterclass student of Fons Hickmann in 2011. She was a member of the postgraduate class of Ute Mahler and Robert Lyons at Ostkreuzschule for Photography Berlin. She had a studio grand from Karl-Hofer Gesellschaft Berlin (2010-2012) and won the IBB photography prize 2011 (recognition). In 2013 she received the ’10. Aenne-Biermann Prize for Contemporary German photography’ for her work Töchter/Daughters.
Her work has been exhibited in Germany, f.e. Museum Kunst der Westküste, Alkersum/Germany (solo), Kunstverein Hannover/Germany and abroad.
She has published 6 artists’ books.