“Rhetorical fire screens. The beaujour of ugly girls. New miracles of Pistoja’s Palace. News of Circe the famous enchantress, who is binding bows and of the well behaved Snake Herb which grows in blooming Arcadia. Azure and Rose.”*
* E.T.A Hoffman, Princess Brambilla
Within this photographic work I create a surreal parallel world of fragments of urban space.
I have been fascinated by strange and unreal places for a while.
As most modern cities are very dense and as they are designed to be functional, such spaces are difficult to find. However, on my search for gaps in the usefulness of modern cities I discovered plenty of strange and surprising scenes in suburbs and industrial zones as well as backstage at theaters, circuses and behind the scenes, in theme parks and urban farms.
Together these places create a fragmented narrative: my personal fantasy of the city. Finally I myself appear as a protagonist on this urban stage.
Personality is constituted by a series of identifications. The first and most important people we identify with are our parents. Later on, in our adolescence, we distance ourselves from them. We begin to cherish our individuality. While at the same time looking for other people, friends, partners or other adults, to help us form ideas of ourselves. We search for similarities and create bonds, starting to assimilate with others by for example wearing similar clothes, or by sharing certain values and behavior. By taking portraits of myself, together with other people such as family members, friends and people I barely know, I work on a personal approach towards visualizing the process of identification. Similarity is created by very simple means, such as wearing the same clothes and adopting a similar expression.
I am fascinated by the result, depicting two individual people merged into one virtual character. Sisterness (German: Verschwisterung) is a metaphor for this state. Likewise, I am interested in the process of assimilating myself to the other completely. During the portrait session, familiarity evolves between the models and myself. Conversely, the individuality of each one becomes evident when we face the camera, despite our physical resemblance. With my portraits I would like to explore this contrast between closeness and distance, between insisting on our individuality and our longing for a symbiosis with someone like us.
I designed Sisterness to be a long-term project. I am currently looking for new models.
Family of Choice
I’d like to introduce my work with one of my model’s thoughts:
“I see some similarity.
The woman is a stranger to me yet I recognize myself within her.
That makes me smile. In my head, I start to travel in a strange city, recognizing here and there some of my friends in passers by. This journey is what interests me about the project.
Across rigid constructions of ethnicity, sex, class, sexuality, family, or origin.
The power of this project lies in its elicitation of an emancipatory gaze upon convention – in the way family norms and concepts of self are visually deconstructed.
The project plays with the construction of a communal identity, a ‘we’ of two people who don’t know each other, creating a new space for possible relationships (…)”
While meeting new people one frequently has to think of friends or other people one already knows. Strangers seem to be familiar at first sight. A sort of Déjà-vu.
I wanted to capture these ephemeral appearances by bringing together what exists separately from each other. By taking portraits of the people who remind me of each other, I create a net of fragile/delicate connections between the people I meet. Most of the Doppelgangers don’t know each other and so consequently I am the only connection. I’ve focused on these bonds for a long time, asking questions such as what do friends or brothers and sisters have in common? How does this commonness manifest itself visually? How can photography visualize relationships or even construct fictional kinship? My work Sisterness has already dealt with these questions. Familily of Choice is another possible answer.
After the summer’s yield
Born 1981 in Augsburg, Germany, Katharina Lepik currently lives and works in Hamburg.
- 02/2015 Master of Arts in photography
- 2011 – 2015 M.A student (photography),class of Prof. Ute Mahler, HAW Hamburg, Germany
- 2010 Bachelor Degree Photodesign, University of Applied Sciences, Munich, Germany
A selection of photographs is available to purchase as limited edition prints at Galerie Hengevoss-Dürkop:
- 2022 ECHO, Schlossmediale (Internationales Festival für Alte Musik, Neue Musik und Audiovisuelle Kunst), Werdenberg, Schweiz
- 2015 ImageSingulières, Projections, Sète, France
Photo Phnom Penh, Cambodia
- 2013 Bremer Kunstfrühling, Bremen
- 2012 PREVIEW, Berlin
Carte Blanche, Galerie Hengevoss-Dürkop, Hamburg
Shifted Realities, Frappant, Hamburg
- 2011 Familiy Value, Michael Mazzeo Gallery, New York
- 2010 Verschwisterung, Westendstudios, Munich, Germany
- 2009 Der unbewusste Augenblick, German Museum, Munich
Heimat auf Zeit, DG Gallery, Munich
Belichtung und Wahrheit, Freelens meeting, University of Applied Sciences, Munich
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