Notes de mon entretien avec Floris Neusüss le 13 octobre 2010 à Londres, en compagnie de son épouse Renate Heyn
Training and influences
Early training. Started photograms very early (17). Was already more interested in the process. Roetgen school.
Trained as mural painter, then photography (photo school in Wuppertal). Also printmaking.
Using paper without baryte (paper for architects’prints), it was cheap. Started photograms of the body (his girlfriend nude in the bath); white body on negative paper, then positive paper. Herschel effect (solarization).
Heinz Hajek Halke approved his work.
He showed his work to a gallery in Düsseldorf (Schmela) who told him about Klein.
In 1963 show at Gruber (Young Photography).
Then gallery Nächst Sankt Stefan in Wien (Monsignor Mauer) who showed Arnulf Rainer.
His teachers included Heinz Hajek-Halke , painter Ernst Oberhoff, the graphist Helmut Lortz, and Seewald.
At the time, documentary photography was strongest. Reaction against that.
- photogram history (Schad, Man Ray, Moholy-Nagy, Haussmann; he wrote books about the last two);
- classical art, Greece, mythology (Hebe, Orpheus);
- contemporaries (Robert Heinecken; workshop in Kassel in 1983 and book).
He would define himself not as a pioneer, but as someone pursuing a historical heritage. A form of nostalgia.
Start in 1960. Nude women from start.
Knew about Yves Klein in Gelsenkirchen but not Anthropométries then.
Did not know about Aaron Siskind, Pleasures and Terrors of Levitation or The Divers (1950s) (link to Moholy-Nagy through Institute of Design in Chicago).
Interested in ballet, body as sculpture.
But not a ritual not a performance.
Erotic dimension (Erotogramme with Peter Cardoff).
Haptic dimension, contact, of body with paper, of spectator with model.
Silver bromide paper (white on black), then auto-reversal paper (black on white).
Works in opposites: black and white, shadow and light, movement and stillness, presence and absence. Very binary.
Not an indexical form, but the imagination. The essence of form.
Metaphysical. Visionary tension between revealed and hidden (is it religious?).
Romantic. Mystical. Randomness.
German Expressionist movies (shadow of Dr Caligari, of Nosferatu).
The shadow as our soul, our lost half. Jung.
Fetus, amniotic field, weightless.
Sense of movement from static images, sense of depth from flat images.
Shadow or silhouettes as revealing our true self (Johann Caspar Lavater, Stoichita).
Bin gleich züruck : Fun and tragic, death, lost soul (contrary of Peter Schlemihl).
Arles performance in 1977: workshop making photograms with students, then sacrifice of the photograms; loss of materiality, just an idea. Only once. Destroy the image.
A ritual, not a public performance (like Yves Klein), a technical task, but erotic dimension.
Only once. More aura. The gesture of the painter; action painting.
Role of chance (unlike the other pictures).
Some are not fixed: work that will deteriorate over time. A living piece of art (and dying).
Work on statues, not on living bodies.
Museums and culture.
Overlapped positive and negative (Hebe). Never did it before.
Chance, random result.
Nature (British school).
Disorientation, no top, no bottom. Knew Equivalents by Stieglitz.
No frame, no field nor off-field, no defined space. No index, no reference.
Ph. Dubois (L’Acte Photographique): “Le photogramme est, sans doute, le ’nuage photographique’ type : on y distingue moins les formes des objets que des jeux d’ombre et de lumière, des clairs-obscurs, des traces fantomatiques pareilles à des voiles flottantes »
Totally abstract. No representation, just the light. Pure forms.
Photo of photographic media.
Rebellion against the rules, thinking outside the main road.
“A picture of the window about the window”.
Get out of the studio.
Philosophy of Photography
Photography as art-art as photography. Photo is a means, art is a program.
‘For me making a photogram is almost the opposite of making photographs’. Like a painting. Invent images that have not been seen before.
Rebellion against space representation (perspective, horizon, Alberti): space has to come from viewers’ imagination.
Digitalization has made photo even more banal, it offers no resistance, it can be poured into any mould. The photogram denies familiarity.
“Breaking out of the photographic limitations”.
Knows Vilém Flusser. Rebellion against program.
Work inscribed in historical tradition and breaking away, pioneering. Very important not to be only a practitioner. Inscription in art history.
Did a few photograms in the 1960, then stopped, for concept photography, then started photograms again in 1983
Teacher and writer
Work in couple with Renate Heyne.
Influence of Beuys on Renate.
Bridge between avant-gardes and modernity.
His students: Tim Otto Roth, Thomas Bachler (border sténopé and photogramme), Natalie Ital.
Suggests Edgar Lissel, Evelyne Coutas, Michael Flomen (Canada).
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