With its melancholic visual language, Nina Röder’s series »bath in brilliant green« presents a poetic perspective on different forms of helplessness and loss.
In associative arrangements of portraits, landscapes, and still life motifs – often created in darkness – she approaches metaphors of letting go.
Staged images of marble-like bodies, often in a performative correlation with the surrounding nature, question the meaning of human existence.
Her works frequently depict natural structures and vegetal artifacts, such as bits of algae or thistles in an absurd form.
The book of the same name is published by Kehrer Verlag in winter 2018 and also includes the series »a little deeper than you thought« & »always beyond«.
text by Nicolas Oxen
»If anyone had asked me what existence was, I would have answered, in good faith, that it was nothing, simply an empty form which was added to external things without changing anything in their nature. And then all of a sudden, there it was, clear as day: existence had suddenly unveiled itself. It had lost the harmless look of an abstract category: it was the very paste of things, this root was kneaded into existence. Or rather the root, the park gates, the bench, the sparse grass, all that had vanished: the diversity of things, their individuality, were only an appearance, a veneer. This veneer had melted, leaving soft, monstrous masses, all in disorder—naked, in a frightful, obscene nakedness.«
Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea
Antoine Roquentin loses the world because it is too close to him. He can barely bear it, the thick black chestnut root that burrows under the park bench. Also, he is not able to bear the sweating faces of the people he meets in cafes.These things of the everyday world are normally just there. But the root is not simply there: With Roquentin's disgust, she begins to exist like “kneaded”, diffuse in a sensual overflow of brittle blackness, bulging surface and dark smell.
Disgust is an aesthetic feeling, because disgust brings a difference in the world from self-evident perceptions and creates an ambivalence between being attracted and being pushed off. In Sartre, the disgust is suitable for his literary-philosophical experiment, because he reveals the network of relationships - sensual as well as social - in which people and objects are not simply »there«, but »do exist«.
Two dead animals are lying rigid between bright stones on the forest floor. Moss covers trees and stones with a damp, green fur. An inconspicuous pond swallows a mamorous body. Everywhere bodies, covered with thistles, buds, and seed capsules. One of them has laid himself in the narrow ditch along a meadow. Another one curves over a stream of black stones. Such images can quickly become too much, too much dark natural romance, too much enigmatic poetry of the organic, too deep and profound. Nina Röder’s photos series »a little deeper than you thought« and »bath in brilliant green« do not want to go so deep, but only »a little deeper«. These are photographic works along a minimal difference. It is about small shifts and framings. The great strength of Nina Röder's photographic work lies in the arrangement of objects and the composition of the picture, which can be traced back to her first staged photographs.
Fortunately, her series are not lost in too much depth, but are committed to the surfaces, forms and contingencies, and are as sensuous and organic as they are formalistic and concrete. Of course, there is romance, but never without the skilful break through of the performance and the concept. In any case, it is about forms of feeling, but always in connection with somewhat crazy ideas, such as the hairy man with a fluffy dry growth stuck to his shoulder or to approach the silver thistle with pointed tongue. Things arise, images imagine, form themselves and fit together, seemingly as if from their own strength. There is no deep or dark underneath or darkness. And the photographs are always synonymous, hard rectangular frames, in which aesthetic forces gather - neither difficult to grasp moods nor conceptual thoughts.
»bath in brilliant green« – it needs only the green, the quality, no deeper meaning, only a richly shining gum tree leaf, in its entire beauty and slant. The same thing happens with the »humans« or, in fact, one would have to speak of »bodies«, which are nestling to nature quite sensuous, human in the literal sense and yet again act in it like statues or foreign bodies. Nina Röder's photographs are reminiscent of the performances and installations of the French artist Pierre Huyghe, whose art aims at similarly aesthetic shifts along the difference between nature and art.
Antoine Roquentin, who experiences the world loss quite existentially on his bench in the intoxication of the disgusting abundance, sensitively impelled by a chestnut tree root – this scene is as impressive as laughable. And just like this ambivalent moment of meaning also causes disgust – so terrible and so beautiful, that one must laugh, enjoyably and frightened. Nina Röder's photographs take advantage of this unstable moment of meaning and keep the irritated glance of the viewer in motion.
bath in brilliant green
2015 – 2017
Spain / Italy / France