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Boris Eldagsen

Berlin-based German artist Boris Eldagsen (*1970) studied photography and visual arts at the
Art Academy of Mainz, conceptual art and intermedia at the Academy of Fine Arts, Prague
and fine art the Sarojini Naidu School of Arts & Communication Hyderabad, India. In addition,
he studied philosophy at the Universities of Cologne and Mainz. 2013, he participated in a
Roger Ballen Masterclass.
His photomedia work has been shown internationally in institutions and festivals including
Fridericianum Kassel, Deichtorhallen Hamburg, CCP Melbourne, ACP Sydney, EMAF
Osnabrück, Bundeskunsthalle Bonn, Edinburgh Art Festival, FORMAT Festival Derby,
Encontros da Imagem Braga, FestFoto Porto Alegre, Photolux Biennale Lucca, Singapore
International Photography Festival, Indian Photo Festival Hyderabad, Chobi Mela Dhaka,
PhotoVisa Krasnodar, Noorderlicht Groningen, Voies Off Festival Arles, Media Forum
Moscow, WRO Media Art Biennale Wroclaw, Biennale Le Havre and Biennale of Electronic
Arts Perth.
Since 2004, Boris has lectured at Victorian College of the Arts / University Melbourne,
Photography Studies College Melbourne, Akademie für Bildende Künste Mainz and
Hochschule Furtwangen.
In addition, he has given workshops for Goethe Institut Gulf-Region, Pathshala South Asian
Media Institute Dhaka, Escola d'Art i Superior de Disseny d'Olot, Centre for Contemporary
Photography Melbourne, RMIT University Melbourne, Monash University Melbourne,
PhotoWerkBerlin, Fotografie Forum Frankfurt and Westlicht Wien.
Boris has been awarded the „Prix Voies Off“ in Arles (2013) and the „Photography Show
Award“ at the FORMAT Festival in Derby (2015). Since 2014, Boris is a member of Deutsche
Fotografische Akademie.

Boris Eldagsen

Berlin-based German artist Boris Eldagsen (*1970) studied photography and visual arts at the
Art Academy of Mainz, conceptual art and intermedia at the Academy of Fine Arts, Prague
and fine art the Sarojini Naidu School of Arts & Communication Hyderabad, India. In addition,
he studied philosophy at the Universities of Cologne and Mainz. 2013, he participated in a
Roger Ballen Masterclass.
His photomedia work has been shown internationally in institutions and festivals including
Fridericianum Kassel, Deichtorhallen Hamburg, CCP Melbourne, ACP Sydney, EMAF
Osnabrück, Bundeskunsthalle Bonn, Edinburgh Art Festival, FORMAT Festival Derby,
Encontros da Imagem Braga, FestFoto Porto Alegre, Photolux Biennale Lucca, Singapore
International Photography Festival, Indian Photo Festival Hyderabad, Chobi Mela Dhaka,
PhotoVisa Krasnodar, Noorderlicht Groningen, Voies Off Festival Arles, Media Forum
Moscow, WRO Media Art Biennale Wroclaw, Biennale Le Havre and Biennale of Electronic
Arts Perth.
Since 2004, Boris has lectured at Victorian College of the Arts / University Melbourne,
Photography Studies College Melbourne, Akademie für Bildende Künste Mainz and
Hochschule Furtwangen.
In addition, he has given workshops for Goethe Institut Gulf-Region, Pathshala South Asian
Media Institute Dhaka, Escola d'Art i Superior de Disseny d'Olot, Centre for Contemporary
Photography Melbourne, RMIT University Melbourne, Monash University Melbourne,
PhotoWerkBerlin, Fotografie Forum Frankfurt and Westlicht Wien.
Boris has been awarded the „Prix Voies Off“ in Arles (2013) and the „Photography Show
Award“ at the FORMAT Festival in Derby (2015). Since 2014, Boris is a member of Deutsche
Fotografische Akademie.

... more

THE MIND IS A CURIOUS THING

Boris is a photo-media artist, investigating the unconscious mind.
Despite over 200 years of psychology, the unconscious remains as vague and powerful as the gods it emancipated itself from.
As a reservoir of our past experiences, it stores urges and feelings that we rationally have no access to. However some images can open these doors, trigger emotions and unlock memories.
Using archetypes and symbolic acts, Eldagsen’s work speaks the language of the unconscious and communicates on a dreamlike level.
His visual poetry transports the viewer between the sublime and the uncanny – where the attributes of photography, painting, theatre and film unite.

WORKING LIKE A MOTH

Boris only works at night, with minimal equipment, an in-camera approach and without digital manipulation.
Like a moth, he roams the streets searching for light, practicing what he has termed ‘Inverted Street
Photography’: instead of exploring stories, a place or a person, he hijacks and transforms what he sees in
front of my camera into a symbol for the timeless workings of the mind.
He also stages images with models to create a portrait of the Collective Unconscious. To develop ideas and
impulses for the shoot, he maps the overlapping areas of his unconscious and the model's. He is then
guided by the dynamics of the shoot to move deeper down the rabbit hole.

 

INTERVIEW by Dieter Debruyne on Urbanautica: “BORIS ELDAGSEN. THE POEMS “

Tell us about your approach to photography. How would you describe your personal research in general?

Boris Eldagsen (BE): In my work I’m interested in transforming what is in front of my lens, trying to show the unconscious reality beyond time and space

I have given myself the task of creating a timeless image that has an impact on an emotional as well as an unconscious level, something which cannot be translated into words. So I ask myself the question if it’s possible for me to show an internal psychological structure by using the material that’s in front of my camera.

To achieve this I hijack what others refer to as ‘reality’. Technically speaking half of my images are considered street photography, but it’s not about showing what was happening at that particular time and place. If I can make all of this disappear to create a timeless image or psychological archetype I have achieved my goal.

This method enables me to work wherever I am without the need of a studio or specific location. I only need the night time, my camera and my laptop, and sometimes an adventurous volunteer model.

How did your research evolve in time? Starting from your first shots to you work now?

BE: Over the past 20 years I’ve tried out all possible ways of working, starting conceptually or just intuitively working from my gut. I started working very intuitively when I was 18 years old and now I’m back where I started, with the difference of possessing a deep and wide knowledge of what I do. It’s as if my conscious and unconsciousness are dancing together.

Tell us about your latest project ‘how to disappear completely | THE POEMS’

BE: With ‘THE POEMS’, I want to create images that have an impact on an emotional and unconscious level that cannot be translated into words. I call my images POEMS to show that they aren’t stories but a creative use of the medium of photography that requires you to engage in the conversation with your own feelings and memories. A poem uses words in creative ways to evoke feelings and memories and it’s much more open than a story, you need to interpret it with your heart, mind and soul.

‘THE POEMS’ is a meta-series that currently contains over 100 images all of which can be combined in endless possible ways, in accordance with the subject of an exhibition. My site-specific installations feature photographs in 5 different sizes on large-scale wallpapers. The images are clustered and hung together like groups of connected emotions and memories. The variations in size force the viewer to shift his perception, from being a giant looking at a tiny picture to being a midget walking through an enormous wallpaper.

What do you think about photography in the era of digital and social networking?

BE: A lot of contemporary photography tends to stick to the surface or run around a documentary/rational concept. But if you are not able to see what’s inside, just stop photographing the world outside. I want to feel the emotions, the guts, the artist’s own demons. If a piece of work is too rational I can appreciate the concept but I remain untouched, it still bores me to see typological work by followers of followers of the Becher School for instance.
That said, I also feel that times are changing. Over the past three years I have visited many photography festivals and there is a fine group of photo artists between 27-40 years old, producing amazing work.  I can definitely see some trends: a return to black and white, symbolic work, journeys inside, new mixes of abstract and figurative and so on.

I do not care that much about photography, to me photography is just a medium that can be used for any purpose. If photography festivals would be festivals of words or poetry, we would see advertisements, newspapers, lyrics, trashy magazines and world class literature, how-to-manuals and cooking recipes. But because language is the oldest medium of  humans, we do not have events like these, they are all split up in their various sub-forms.
With photography it is still a mixed bag, this is why it’s necessary to be conscious about your own reasons and purpose to use photography, it is only then when people using photography are truly able to communicate. Such is the case with social media. You need to know how and where to communicate your ideas, who you want to talk to and what you would like to get out of it.

Is there any contemporary artist or photographer, even if young and emerging, who influenced you in some way?

BE: I’m mostly influenced by historic painters (the likes of Hieronymus Bosch, Rembrandt van Rijn, William Blake, C.D.Friedrich, Arnold Böcklin, Max Ernst) and film (Peter Greenaway), not so much by photographers to be honest. There really is no existing influence from the world of photography but a feeling of relatedness to some aspects in the work of Lieko Shiega, Roger Ballen, Sarker Protick, Nadja Bournonville, Alexander Gehring, Katrin Koenning, Alis Resnik, Magdalena Wywrot, Marlous van der Sloot and a young Bangladeshi photographer named Shadman Shahid.

Three books of photography that you recommend?

BE: – ‘Rasen Kaigan’, 2013, by Lieko Shiega
– ‘Grand Circle Diego’, 2014, by Cyril Costilhes
– ‘Shadow Chamber’, 2006, by Roger Ballen

Is there any show you’ve seen recently that you find inspiring?

BE: At this year’s Noorderlicht festival, the curators Wim Melis and Hester Keijser built two opposing shows: one with a rational conceptual approach named ‘Data Rush’ and its counterpart ‘Pulse’, representing the intuitive, dark and emotional side.  Being one of the 15 ‘Pulse’ artists it felt like this was the beginning of something new, a symbol of some kind. This is what the curators said: «What we encounter in the work is someone looking back at us, with the kind of gaze that meets you in the mirror, and you’re not quite sure if you are looking at yourself or a stranger…the feeling of throwing yourself into the pool, of sudden cold rushing past your skin, the water entering your mouth, ears, nose, your senses.» It’s also worth checking out the whole list of artists here.

Projects that you are working on now and plans for the future?

BE: Carine Dolek (from Circulations Festival and Le Petit Espace, Paris) won the Young Curator’s Award, curating my work at this year’s PhotoLux Festival in Lucca, Italy. As the festival’s theme is “Sacred & Profane”, we are currently preparing a big solo exhibition mixing photography, wallpapers, video and objects. The opening is scheduled for November 21st.

Besides the fact that ‘THE POEMS’ is constantly evolving (I have been working on this for 6 years and since I became more focussed on installation the work takes off), I feel like I have freshly fallen in love, there is so much more to explore and expand towards the idea of a Gesamtkunstwerk.  I can’t imagine quitting this work and starting something new just yet.

How do you see the future of photography in general evolve? And where do you place yourself in this future?

BE: The technology of cameras is constantly evolving and like always there are artists working on this matter, making this technical development their subject.
I belong to the group of artists that can work with any type of technology, we look onwards and we are interested in timeless questions and archetypes. Technology just helps us to create our images and I predict that this small group of artists will grow. The last Noorderlicht festival based its whole festival on this distinction. On one side ‘Data Rush’, the conceptual ‘Tech-Geeks’ and on the other side ‘Pulse’, powered by desire, emotions and the quest for the unconscious.

 

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