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Thomas Flechtner

Avers (Walks), 2001
C-print mounted on aluminium
180.0 x 220.0 cm
By choosing a large format and an almost monochrome image of snow, Thomas Flechtner invites the viewer to make an immediate, sensual perception of matter. The eye cannot escape this blue-tinged snow, which, by overrunning the entire composition, both pushes the sky back and reaches right up to it.

A certain relief in the landscape can be made out in the upper part of the photograph whilst the succession of striations lends a decorative aspect to the snow’s smooth surface. These discreet, horizontally arranged lines seem natural. In fact, they mark the path made by the artist as he passed over the snow on sealskin skis. The resulting feeling of absence is specific to Flechtner’s work. As the photographer explains it, “I often look for the break through which the presence of man is expressed, not what is intact or harmonious”.

Verging on abstraction, this shot proposes a world that stands outside time and prompts a moment of intense meditation. The long trek out in the cold, the time spent finding the right point of view, the fatigue experienced by the photographer – all of these elements go unseen by the viewer, absorbed in this serene vision of a peaceful nature. Akin to an approach one might encounter in Land Art, Flechtner participates in the fleeting transformation of this landscape.

Walks, a collection of photos from his Snow series, records these kinds of hikes done in extreme solitary conditions. Avers was shot during the day, although other examples were taken in a similar way at night or at dusk, punctuated by the ray of light thrown by the skier’s headlamp. Kitted out with a large, heavy and cumbersome camera during such expeditions, the artist agrees “that it might seem odd to move about with such ancient equipment in these modern times”. Yet the burden forces him to go more slowly and he sees an advantage in that since, as he makes clear, “you need time to approach what you’re looking for unconsciously”. “All of that helps me mentally create the image before clicking the shutter.”
Thomas Flechtner, Avers (Walks), Chemins : Avers, 2001