Mona Kuhn’s long awaited new series, “Poems,” had it’s debut showing with five extraordinary images at Paris Photo last week at Jackson Fine Art Gallery. The images are slightly reminiscent of her earlier series, “Evidence”, but take the work to a deeper, more ethereal level. Mona Kuhn spoke with L’Œil de la photography at Paris Photo and was asked about the background of this work.
Mona Kuhn said: “The artworks here are a first chapter in an ongoing series I started two years ago. Partially inspired by ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’ by Hieronymus Bosch and some of the frescoes on the ceilings of the Sistine Chapel, I intuitively craved nude figures engaged in innocent and unguarded joys. Often present in 14th century artworks, today this naturalness and languid peace seems unobtainable, being left to the magic and fantasy of previous heavenly forms.
In the last 2 years, I started photographing friends and surroundings from above. Instead of a scaffold, I use a ladder. I compose most images standing on the top of this ladder pointing the camera down, eliminating the horizon line, in an attempt to mirror heaven and earth.
The scenes here have been photographed in and around Les Landes de Gascogne, a pine forest region on the coast of France, near the ocean. Pine needles, cones, dappled light and subtle color tonalities add a layer of nostalgia to the visual vocabulary. Most subjects have their eyes closed, suggesting a state of intimacy and daytime reverie. Sometimes they knew each other, sometimes they were mutual friends or lovers.
The compositions, taken from a bird’s eye view, present a flattened perspective with no horizon lines for orientation, adding a surrealist twist. The resulting effects resemble figure drawings suspended in time by our unconscious, a plunge into what the French poet Louis Aragon called a wave of dreams.”
Elizabeth Avedon is an independent curator, book and exhibition designer, and writer on photography.
Mona Kuhn: Poems
Jackson Fine Art, Atlanta