JOCHEN LEMPERT. Evidence as to man’s place in nature. 16.06.2006 – 29.07.2006

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english / deutsch

Galerie Reinhard Hauff is pleased to announce the opening of its first solo show with the Hamburg artist Jochen Lempert (*1958) on June 16th. Lempert, who this month receives the prestigious Edwin-Scharff-Prize from the City of Hamburg, has a degree in biology. His black and white photographs observe the relationship between Man and Animal, and that of the Natural Sciences and Art. Combining the systematic approaches and methods of scientific research on the one hand, with free association and artistic license on the other, his photographs present subtle, frequently humourous analogies and juxtapositions of Man and Animal, and guide the viewer towards the discovery of some of those many things in the world that surrounds us, which do not immediately meet the eye. Lempert photographs an aphid sitting on the leaf of a lime tree in the street, but enlarges the image so much that the aphid itself becomes precisely the size of a grain in the structure of the photographic paper, and thereby no longer visible in the print. When working in his darkroom, he fixes traces of the glow of the „Alge Noctiluca“—also known as Ocean Sparks—on the paper as a photogramme. In such situations, an ambiguitiy between natural phenomena and photographic image comes about, and this is what the educated biologist is interested in. On expeditions through the animal world surrounding Man, the artist looks for seemingly unspectacular occurences such as a train of wild geese, Magpies building nests, dogs marking their territory—or spiderwebs in the wind. The results of these fieldtrips—as caught on camera—are presented in Lempert’s exhibitions, so that the ambivalence between technical equiment and nature observed make endless possible relationships between natural habitat and artificial environment obvious. Nature and artificial forms blend into each other to the extent that it is often unclear whether it is an actual object which appears on a photo, or just a scratch in the negative.
The titel of the exhibition Evidence as to Manʻs Place in Nature is taken from a book by the British natural scientist and biologist Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895), in which—inspired by Darwinʻs Theory of Evolution—Manʻs origin from apes is proven for the first time. In an age where photography has lost its credibility as bearer of evidential values,
Lempertʻs consistent adherence to analogous photography seems like an anachronistic, poetic reflex. The questions which are implicitly and repeatedly asked in Lempertʻs encyclopedic work, namely how we perceive our natural environment—leave open if, when and what photography can indeed reproduce and/or transmit in an open environment of scientific (observation) research and artistic perception.