Yannick Demmerle, Sans Titre (ed.3), 2003, c-print, diasec on aluminium
Yannick Demmerle's photographs are of overwhelming beauty. His recent oeuvre encompasses landscapes and forest motives, as well as, in a second body of work, empty animal cages shot in zoos. The immediate attraction of his photographs lies in the extreme nearness and density of his motives, which deny the viewer a secure distance. Larger parts of sky or even the horizon can rarely be seen. The beholder's view meets the narrowly standing trunks or gets trapped in the undergrowth, unable - or unwilling - to free himself.
Demmerle captures his motives with an 8x10" camera, allowing for great sharpness of detail and a strong depth of focus. Thus, his technique guarantees a maximum of realistic truth, while, at the same time, the landscapes attain a fantastic quality. The sublime beauty of his works always comes along with a feeling of uneasiness - a 'sweet poison' ascending from the early morning mist or the marshy ground amidst the forest trees.
Demmerle's art neither shows us an idyllic view of nature, nor an analysis in realism. This nature is haunted by the Uncanny - a mystery that should have remained concealed, but that nevertheless touches us. It is the return of the once familiar, made strange and frightening by repression, and now blurring the distinction between the real and the imagined. In this, Demmerle's pictures can also be seen as metaphors for the medium of photography in itself: Photography's omnipresence and its generally accepted strength in representing reality, have repressed the uncanniness, latently inhabiting this medium, e.g. the doubling, and the seeming presence of the non-present. These peculiarities have been faded out from our conscience as something all too familiar.
It is no coincidence that the French photographer has been working in the greater area of Berlin for three years now. He sees himself in the tradition of northern romanticists such as Friedrich, Runge, and Carus. However, with Demmerle, the romantic painter's intimate commune with nature turns into a supernatural anxiety. An impression of emptiness and silence seems to gain ground: the feeling of being tragically locked in. Nature is a companion which is inhabited poorly by man.
The stringency and authenticity of this young artist's oeuvre is also evident in his series of cages photographed in the zoos of Berlin and Dresden. There are always cages of wild animals, but these are constantly absent, leaving behind empty cages. It seems as if he would want to free the tamed wild in a symbolic gesture, or at least pay his respect by not showing the animals in their cages. At the same time, the feeling of being locked-in reaches an evermore oppressing quality through the absence of the caged subject.
Yannick Demmerle was born in 1969 in Sarreguemines, France, and did his studies at the Ecole Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, Strasburg. After exhibitions, amongs others, in Paris, Groningen and Strasburg, Arndt & Partner are delighted to present the artist's first solo exhibition in Germany. In 2003, Yannick Demmerle will furthermore be given solo shows at Vedanta Gallery, Chicago, at the Château d'Oiron, France, as well as at the FRAC Alsace, Sélestat. Demmerle lives and works in Eberswalde near Berlin.