Photographer Philipp Aldrup’s exhibition Die Blaue Blume explores space, time, and longing via forgotten micro-landscapes in Singapore. Narelle Yabuka speaks to him on opening night.
20 November, 2013
Wegwarte | Blue Sailors | Cichorium intybus
Until 8 December 2013, Singapore’s Artistry gallery hosts a visual meditation on the nature of space and time in the form of the exhibition Die Blaue Blume (Tidal Pools Two) by Singapore-based German photographer Philipp Aldrup.
The subject matter of the photographs includes dirt, stones, rubble, dried leaves, and detritus with no hint of location or life within the frame. Each work focuses on a small area of ground, yet the exact scale is sometimes difficult to decipher. Photographed as found with the addition of ethereal lighting, these apparently forgotten and lethargic environments spark an inquisitive gaze. Where are they, and to what era do they belong?
Vergissmeinnicht | Forget-me-not | Myosotis
The exhibition is an elaboration of Aldrup’s earlier photo series Gezeitentümpel – Tidal Pools, which similarly excavated neglected and shrouded spaces. The title of the current series of work refers to the literary motif of the blue flower, which first emerged in the writing of German romanticist author and philosopher Novalis.
Strandflieder | Sea Lavender | Limonium
“The German romanticists longed for a bridge between humans and nature,” explains Aldrup. “They thought there must have been a ‘childhood of mankind’ when we were nature; when we were still part of what we now consider to be the other. For them the blue flower became a distant symbol for which their longing would never be fulfilled.”
Ochsenzunge | Oxtongue | Anchusa
Is Aldrup searching for nature? The spaces he depicts in Die Blaue Bloom can in fact be found beneath Singapore’s highway bridges. To him, they feel almost like nature. “They aren’t meant to be like that,” he says, “but to me they feel more like nature than the Botanic Gardens, which were made for a purpose. These environments are completely purposeless. I think I’m attracted by their uselessness – especially in Singapore where you are always surrounded by functionality.”
Jungfer im Grünen | Love in the Mist | Nigella damascena
They also serve him as a kind of time machine. “These sites could be from any time,” he explains. “They could be Singapore 300 years ago, or in 1,000 years. I find this valuable in an era that is focused on the present and in which things are done for very short periods of time.”
Eisenhut | Wolf’s bane | Aconitum
Sonnenwenden | Turnsole | Heliotropium
Expressing timelessness through photography is a challenge, acknowledges Aldrup, “because everything is a snapshot of a fraction of a second. To look for something where you can almost capture eternity – maybe I’m searching for that. I will keep searching for ways to show the topic of time in a still medium. I like the idea.”
The exhibition at Artistry gallery. Photo © Marcel Heijnen
Top image: Himmelsblume | Skyflower | Duranta erecta
Die Blaue Bloom (Tidal Pools Two) runs until 8 December 2013 at Artistry. Sounds of the Blue Flower – a series of live sound performances – will take place at the gallery at 8pm on 22 November (Awk Wah), 1 December (Piblokto), and 9 December (Shaun San).
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