Via Lewandowsky

Elle-Trichter, from "Facility of Derangement After Pressure Discharge Drone and Kaboom)" Series, Germany, 1997/1998

Photographs, 60x60 cm

Courtesy of the artist and Haunch of Venison, Berlin

Via Lewandowsky, the German installation artist and sculptor, creates special works integrated with social comments. In this series of works he merges images of French landscapes from World War I, with X rays of German soldiers injured during the same period. In an alluring and shocking manner simultaneously, he illustrates the blows on internal and external landscapes.

The art of X rays of which he makes use is not a new technique. In fact, it is a way of drawing with photons, a technique which developed side by side with artistic photography. It is widely used in the military, science and medical worlds, and is based on the discovery from 1895 of Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, that the emulsion of photography papers is sensitive to light transmitted in other frequencies, especially X rays. He discovered that these rays can penetrate through organic organs such as the human skin. The visible light and the X rays are part of the electromagnetic spectrum, but each has a different wave length.

“Lewandowsky treats his subject from two different perspectives, especially in terms of the point of view from which they are perceived,” writes Petra Gardarin. “The first is that of the long distance photographs, of burnt forests and deserted bombed cities, which no longer offer any protection for the living, while from the other perspective, the artist creates close-up shots of metaphorically dismembered bones, illustrating the destroyed inner part of the body. Man is transformed into a dissected landscape, his self an abandoned zone.

(…) What initially may seem as aerial photographical maps, delineating a river or a mountain ridge, turn out to be X ray photos of severe injuries, painted in deep blood red. Thus, for instance, the image of a distorted face with a broken jaw. Cool blue photographs are implanted in the usually hidden inside view of the body, serving as a reminder of the devastation caused by the war: cracked and exposed tree trunks are proof of a deadly disaster. A photograph taken from high altitude, of a piece of land nowhere, reveals an image of a totally destroyed town, where even the church did not escape bombardment.”