“I have always been drawn to the clarity and conceptual focus of Thomas Struth’s photographs and the immense detail they convey,” said Heidi Zuckerman, the Aspen Art Museum (AAM) Nancy and Bob Magoon CEO and Director, to PDN. Zuckerman is the curator of an exhibition opening today at AAM that features work Struth made in the Middle East.
The complete series Struth created in Israel and Palestine, on view for the first time, includes large-scale landscape images and family portraits. The photographs were shot throughout Struth’s six trips to Israel and Palestine between 2009-2014.
In his body of work from the Middle East, Struth, like in his earlier work, approaches the complexities of place in a precise, disciplined way, “creating vivid narratives that offer viewers the chance to block out the noise, and be still and contemplate,” Zuckerman told PDN. “In our time, with ubiquitous binary dialogue, Struth’s series is an opportunity to think about what we have in common rather than our differences,” she added.
Photographing within the politicized societies of the Middle East, Struth comments in the press release, “You can only look at a landscape as a potential location for human experience…a landscape doesn’t need me, you, or anybody. It becomes interesting if it can be the ground plan for human experience, projection, or desire.”
Struth, who is based in Berlin, is associated with the Düsseldorf School of Photography, a group of artists including Andreas Gursky and Thomas Ruff who studied under Bernd and Hilla Becher at the Düsseldorf Art Academy in the 1970s.
For Zuckerman, the image in the exhibition that she keeps returning to is “Silwan, East Jerusalem 2009.” The image shows a lone woman walking down the road carrying a shopping bag. Zuckerman explains, “The figure represents our collective struggle as individuals to find a place in the world as well as how personal concerns can be balanced with those of the communal and the universal.”
Struth’s series from the Middle East is on view from January 19-June 10, 2018 at the Aspen Art Museum in Aspen, Colorado.
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