Magazine article Artforum International

Sven Johne: Klemm's

Magazine article Artforum International

Sven Johne: Klemm's

Article excerpt

A man stands on the seashore. He swings his arm and tosses a message in a bottle into the waves. This procedure is captured seven times in a series of black-and-white photographs, the places and times recorded in logbooklike annotations: "Sent in: Rockaway Beach, NYC, USA Date: 15 Sept. 2008," "Sent in: Fire Island, NY, USA Date: 16 Sept. 2008," or "Sent in: Block Island, RI, USA Date: 18 Sept. 2008." If the Gulf Stream is reliable, the bottles should eventually arrive in Europe. And with a little luck, the commentaries sealed inside, with their quotidian observations on the topic of "speed, efficiency and solidarity in daily New York," will find their way back into the work, ideally being incorporated, with notes specifying the time and place of their discovery, in these diptychs whose right-hand panels await notation of the results. The man in these photographs, Sven Johne, born on the Baltic Island of Rugen and trained as a photographer at the Academy of Visual Arts Leipzig, has previously attracted notice with his pointed docu-fictional conceptual projects, which combine researched or found histories and individual life stories with atmospheric photographs. The contemplative tone typical of Johne's work is visible everywhere in this show, "52 gluckliche Orte" (52 Happy Places). The way his work plays with location and dislocation, however, is taken further here: Johne's explorations of the search for happiness, dream locales, and romantic longing and disappearance find their culmination in the no-man's-land of the high seas, abandoned subway tunnels beneath New York City, and an archipelago in the South Atlantic.

Besides in the niessage-in-a-bottle diptychs, which have already integrated a speculative horizon of expectation into their very form, Johne's yearning sensibility can be seen above all in his suite of ten fictional nautical charts, Seafaring Discoveries of Our Time (all works 2008]. …

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