Untitled (from the series "Ganz still und stumm/Naturstücke"), 1997-2001
C-print, Perspex, 100 x 80 cm
Berlin, conference area
(c) VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2012; photo: courtesy Galerie Elka Jordanow, Munich
Eva Leitolf’s photographs from the series "Ganz still und stumm/Naturstücke" [Entirely quiet and mute/Nature pieces] have a secretive quality: as close-ups, they do not reveal much about the landscape, but concentrate on the variety of forms in the detail. The scenes are lit by a spotlight that appears to point at something that is not immediately accessible to the observer. The time and place of the photographs remain unclear. Depicted are close-ups of what appear to be central-European flora and fauna - branches of deciduous and coniferous trees concealing birds or rodents. And although the theme is clearly nature, all photographs appear artificial. This jarring of the observer is a deliberate artistic strategy because Eva Leitolf (*1966 Würzburg, DE) does not actually photograph outdoors in the wild, but rather creates dioramas like those found in natural history museums. Borrowing from the synthesised and stylised arrangements of didactic display cases, she examines our perception of nature and questions the distinction between the natural and the artificial.
The first part of the series’ title, “Ganz still und stumm”, is from August Heinrich Hoffmann’s 1843 children’s song “Ein Männlein steht im Walde” [A little man stands in the woods]. The artist is alluding here both to her own childhood experiences, evoking memories of woods that were simultaneously familiar and sinister, and to nature, and in particular the woods, as an important theme in German art and culture.