annabell stübe   |   photographs


"Whoever has learnt to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness."
Hermann Hesse



When a critical and therefore effective amount of stimuli of a work reaches an observer, an ideal case of artistic reception is in place. Conceptual and perceptual impulses are the feeding ground of interest and they lead to questions which as stored oppositions sometimes want to have a good answer, sometimes an uncertain one and at other times no answer at all. Inspired by these question, which entangle like burs, perceivers – perhaps according to formal aesthetic criteria – begin their search for the artistic consciousness and the attitude that is hidden beneath the two-dimensional surface. Because of its medial filter, in  photography traces of creative will are more blurred than in the case of the painted or drawn picture.
However, sometimes a second print is sufficient, or a little sequence, and the potential or the limits of the subjective signature behind the camera are felt.

The present work appears to leave behind the beaten track of forest and meadow art in several regards. Like in previous works, Annabell Stübe filters her photographic radius of action. With regard to subject matter, the filter is manifested by limiting herself to the motif of the tree trunk. The view of the beech wood is not lost in anecdotal or romanticised detail. Rather, the straight trunks densify to create a structural field that permits new reflections on the experience of nature. Formally, this reduction is achieved through the deliberate employment of blurring and turning colour into black and white. The shift towards the spectrum of greyness supports the formal and, I believe, multi-layered quality of the images, where the effect of colour, it being charged with emotion, would perhaps be too emphatic.

It seems as if photography is untrue to its own authority-giving representative function as it reproduces nature in this blurred way.
But really, the hazy view is much closer to reality than sharpness. This is of course true for the speeder on the motorway, for whom impulses of reality merge to form a diffuse mash of colours and shapes at the edges of his visual field. But the blurred image can also be compared more generally with our experiences of the world. The visual experience is shaped by a subjectively moved eye - a lens that scans the map for objects of its interest.

If the view comes to a halt, a sharpening occurs, which is fundamentally depends on the distance of the observer. The artist has been unpicking the beauty of flowers since 1998 with her macro photos. The photographs (and also Stübe’s images of street lights) are proof that dealing with the phenomenon of distance can lead to a paradoxical view of the world.
With regard to nature, the structural similarity of the small and the big becomes apparent: under the microscope, hairs turn into woods and bacterial cultures into galaxies.

When observing the tree trunks, questions of Gestalt theory link up with those of perceptual speed. The graded order of the lines generates a clear order. This field, this structure provides support, it is calming, and decelerates the dynamic of the image. A slowing down, yes – a standstill, no; for it is precisely the blurring that contains movement. The present print work, with its hard binding and back makes clear this claim. Just like with photography on baryt paper and the work with the Hasselblad camera, so here too, the formal emphasis is on permanence. The atmospheric image of the wood has been captured, recorded and stored for the coming one hundred years. The analog medium format camera, which the artist has been using for four years, forces an awareness that fundamentally opposes fast snap shot qualities and the reframing of individual sections. Each detail of reality is left to its intrinsic perfection. The art of light and lens carries over the sensation of world to Stübe’s picture language.

The above parameters, which elevate the conditioned nature-seeing and nature-experiencing onto a new level, result in an independent yet individually interpretable way of depicting nature. The forest by no means mirrors an unreflected accumulation of arbitrary impressions, rather this time it is a provider of raw material of a different kind. It becomes clear how subtle the fine-tuning of impulses is that are difficult to grasp. In this cycle, even the view of the sky experiences a surprising grounding, which refers to, as a feedback, to the subjective view behind the camera and thus to the artist’s reality. The works subsumed under the title of Treemotion do not require understanding or explanation. As a catalyst of perception, they are easy to activate – to use the words of Annabell Stübe: “Move three steps back and approach that which then happens”.

Winfried Nussbaummüller