Amelie Von Oppen
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Architect Amelie von Oppen (*1977) brings typical street scenes to the center of attention with the help of her camera. The ultimately graphic, line-based representations of people in urban cityscapes reveal the quotidien in a high-contrast staging.

The series “Partitur” (in English, “score”) was created in spring 2008 on Berlin’s Liebknecht Bridge. The people move on the stairs like notes on a score; their bodies stand out against the bright steps. But in this composition, von Oppen not only plays with effects of brightness and darkness; her central theme is also the dichotomy between horizontal elements, which lend the images optical anchors, and vertical elements, which generate dynamic. The eight photographs – each of which measures the size of an opened score – can be combined any number of ways in a variety of harmonious arrangements.

In August 2008, von Oppen continued her conceptual work with the series “Donauwellen I-IV” (Danube Waves I-IV). The people are distinctly silhouetted against the street’s basic geometric pattern at the Albertina in Vienna; yet in Random Walk, people merge with the wavy pattern into a certain unity. The nine photographs in each series may be hung in any constellation, allowing the observer to develop new overall impressions. Similarly, the series can also be combined with one another.

Von Oppen created the series “Rollfeld” in Berlin in 2008 by photographing various scenes on escalators and montaging these in her own compositions. The interplay between people and geometric elements continues in this series, as does the emphasis on discovering new combinations.

Walk this way

More and more, we are all concerned with slowing down. A concept that suits the photographic series by Amelie von Oppen well. Her images are aesthetic-physiognomic studies of how people move in public spaces. The photographer freezes the passers-by’s gait in the span of one perceived moment as they cross through a non-descript urban location, thus transforming it to a sensual and formally sophisticated image. And it is surprising how many shapes, variations, and modes of walking this attentive pattern can illuminate.

In the four-part series Lebenslinien (Lifelines), this frozen and snow-covered lake becomes an allegory for individual life paths and lifestyles. The viewer sees a snowy surface through which single dark paths are being plowed. Numerous walkers move along these lines, which are reminiscent of the lifelines on our hands. Some stroll together in casual conversation while others hurry away, their bare heads tucked between their shoulders. Some cautiously follow the delineated path, while others consciously forge their own. Each person in the image becomes a representative of a type of movement and, accordingly, of a certain lifestyle. “Tell me how you walk, and I’ll tell you who you are!” But each person also remains unto himself: just a single person walking through the snow from one edge of the image to the other. Where did we come from, and where are we going? Depending on how one hangs the four images, the walkers are given new directions and new destinations – new lifelines.

A further series with the title Schattenläufer (Shadow Walker) recollects the tradition of shadow silhouettes. And these pictures recall similar shadow-themed images by great photographers such as Umbo and André Kertész. Preserved on film are not portrait silhouettes but rather the warped outlines of passers-by – of their bodies from the waist up. Every step with the shadow clinging to the feet and gliding across the asphalt tells another story.

Stephan Reisner

1977born in Bad Harzburg, Germany
1996-1997works for photographer Heiner Orth, Hamburg, Germany
1998-2004 studies architecture at TU Berlin, Germany, and University of Florence, Italy (stipendiary of DAAD), degree in architecture
2005-2007works as freelance photographer in Düsseldorf, Germany
2007founds the "Produzentengalerie COGNOSCO", Berlin, Germany

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