Lothar Baumgarten

DEU (1944). Lives and works in New York and Berlin.

Aliento, 2014. Installation. Texts and slides

This photographic essay presents a dialectic discourse between the color and black and white images of ephemeral sculptures— mostly takenoutdoors in the late sixties by the German artist Lothar Baumgarten— and the ethnographical practice of Theodor Koch-Grünberg and Guido Boggiani at the turn of the nineteenth century in the Amazon.

Their photographic and linguistic research is juxtaposed with spontaneous and improvised interventions which Baumgarten called “manipulated reality or materialized moments.” At the time, the artist was interested in the psyche of things and materials. Through their immediacy, these ephemeral sculptures establish a discourse
on the transitory; their essence lies in a reduced manifestation and an existence limited by time. Their enigmatic power and imaginary language lie in their insolubility of form and content. Even after their complete disappearance they create a mental space.

These early ephemeral activities become a source for photography. They are works of the senses and the mind. Aliento (Breath) reflects on the contradictions between culture and nature, reflecting the ambivalence of our representation and cultural view of nature. Archaic cultures are categorical, and their relationship to nature is one that mostly moderates behavior. In our demystified world, our relationship to nature is structured by intentional action. We can only respect and protect nature through a sensorial culture, not through moral imperatives.