Clervaux is a beautiful town in the north of Luxembourg, where since 1994 it has displayed in its castle the last existing version of the famous exhibition The Family of Man assembled by Edward Steichen in 1955. The town values the work of Steichen through other additional cultural projects organising contemporary photographic exhibitions throughout the locality. One of these is a project named ‘Jardins’ which shows photography in public spaces. One of these places is in the immediate vicinity of the castle, in the center of the town, where curator Annick Meyer has selected Mona Kuhn’s works to be displayed as the main featured artist for their annual exhibition. Eleven pictures are mounted on glass partitions. The photographs are illuminated at night. The location has the appearance of a garden inspired by the historic planting that surrounded the castle in the past.
She Disappeared Into Complete Silence
Text by Annick Meyer, Curator, Cite De L’Image, Clervaux
The quality of light, according to Mona Kuhn, is measured in nuances of colour and – as strange as it may seam – even in sounds, or the absence of sounds. The photographer has translated this empirical experience into photographic images. Her journey towards the light took her to the Joshua Tree desert in California.
As a classical symphony is built upon rhythm and the development of an initial motif, so the potential of light is observable through its rhythmic and evolving intensity. The viewer can easily discern the alternating chromatic effects and the play of shadows. As the saturation of light increases, the shadows fade and the sounds dim.
In an orchestra, every instrument is waiting for its entry or an interval. Faced with the ever- increasing intensity of the sun, everything seems to hold its breath. The brightness yields only to time – a few, fleeting moments can be captured in the fullness of the light. The shadows will not be banished for long: as soon as the sun crosses the zenith, they prepare their resurrection.
The impression emanating from this magical moment is exhilarating. Do even the insects go quiet in the midday sun? There is complete silence. An illusion? This ephemeral stillness is not isolated. The muted soundscape gives way to a series of optical phenomena: reflections.
The light paints non-tangible, transparent images into the desert. Mirages. Images appear and repeat themselves – mirrored or inverted. Up and down flow into each other; far blends into close. Apparitions are superimposed on each other. Straight lines are curving in the heat and brightness. Perception takes on surreal traits. Paradoxically, the light seems static amidst the shimmering vibrations. Suddenly the shadows start taking shape again and break the vision. Sounds come back to life and put an end to the silent spectacle.
Mona Kuhn is best known for her large-scale photographs of the human form. Her approach is unusual in that she develops close relationships with her subjects, resulting in images of remarkable intimacy, and creating the effect of people naked but comfortable in their own skin. In addition, Kuhn’s playful combination of visual strategies, such as translucency explores our connectedness with the environment. A sublime sense of comfort and intelligence permeates her works, showing the human body in its most natural state while simultaneously re-envisioning the nude as a contemporary canon of art.
Kuhn was born in São Paulo, Brazil, in 1969, of German descent. In 1989, Kuhn moved to the US and earned her BA from The Ohio State University, before furthering her studies at the San Francisco Art Institute. She is currently an independent scholar at The Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. Mona Kuhn’s first monograph, Photographs, was published by Steidl in 2004; followed by Evidence (2007), Native (2010), Bordeaux Series (2011), Private (2014), and She Disappeared Into Complete Silence (2018/19). In addition, Kuhn’s latest monograph Bushes and Succulents was published by Stanley Barker Editions (2018), with a launch at the Jeu de Paume in Paris. Occasionally, Mona teaches at UCLA and the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.
Mona Kuhn’s work is in private and public collections worldwide, including The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Hammer Museum, Perez Art Museum Miami, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Kiyosato Museum in Japan. Kuhn’s work has been exhibited at The Louvre Museum and Le Bal in Paris; The Whitechapel Gallery and Royal Academy of Arts in London; Musée de l’Elysée in Switzerland; Leopold Museum in Vienna, and Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney. Mona Kuhn lives and works in Los Angeles.
Mona Kuhn is represented by Flowers Gallery, Edwynn Houk, and Jackson Fine Art.
Ghislain Pascal of The Little Black Gallery acts as a consultant and publicist to the artist.
For more information visit www.monakuhn.com
Mona Kuhn : She Disappeared Into Complete Silence
25/10/2019 – 23/10/2020
Jardin du Bra’haus II, Montée du Château,