AXEL ANTASNatural High Frequency
Axel Antas and the unseen in photography
After living in London since 1997, Axel Antas (b. 1976) took up residency at the Villa Snäcksund art centre in Tammisaari at the beginning of 2013. Galleria Heino´s exhibition features several new works that the artist has produced while at Villa Snäcksund. Natural High Frequency continues in the footsteps of Antas´s other nature-themed series. The works include images of the sea, lone trees left standing after deforestation and scenes from deep inside ancient woodland.
Photographs in the Monuments for the Unseen series play tricks on the viewer´s eyes. A calm sea shimmers through technical shades of light green, white and blue, made recognisable by a barely discernible line marking the horizon in the centre of the picture. More than the sea, however, the viewer´s eye is drawn to a structure positioned in the water, a shape of sorts that looks both familiar and strange. The Shaped Views series is made up of black-and-white photographs presented in pairs. The side-by-side pictures look almost identical, but a sharp eye notices a difference. The artist has manipulated the position of the trees momentarily in the picture on the left, while the right-hand-side picture shows the tree "released" back to its natural position. The drawings in the Study on Echoes series stem from the artist´s walks in the forest, where he has immortalised sights through a piece of glass. The glass casts reflections on the scenery. Looking at nature through a piece of glass is a reference to the Claude glass, a sort of pre-photographic lens. Even more direct is the reference to Gerhard Richter´s method of detaching a picture from its subject with the help of tools such as refracting glass. Later, in his studio, Antas has produced drawings of the photographic images captured through his piece of glass. The pencil drawings, which are made impressionistic by the duality created by the reflection, emphasise the visual form of expression over the subject of the picture.
The Natural High Frequency exhibition goes to the heart of modern photographic art, even when the end products that are exhibited are in the form of drawings or moving pictures. Antas works with the idiosyncrasies of modern photography, such as the use of media, authorship, temporality and the relationship between the picture and its subject and the viewer. The subject and the use of tools have become hot topics in photography as digital technologies continue to gain ground. Digitisation has also sparked in photographers a desire to study their own protohistory, which has brought about a revival of the relationship between photography and nature. In Antas´s pictures the artist´s interpretation is nevertheless palpable in both the subject that he has altered for creative purposes and in the final product.
Although nature - or at least our perception of nature - has changed, the same natural phenomena that were in existence in the early 19th century are still all around us. The name of the exhibition, Natural High Frequency, refers to the frequencies around us that we cannot see or hear. We live in a world that, in addition to what is visible, is full of phenomena that we cannot see or sense but that nevertheless influence how we experience the world. The way in which these unseen phenomena are translated into pictures is culture, and in this sense the story told by Antas´s pictures is completely different from the early 19th century depictions of the natural world.
A book titled Natural High Frequency, which showcases Axel Antas´s works from 2001 to 2014, will be published in connection with the exhibition with texts by Martin Herbert, Hanna Johansson and Bettina Klein.
The artist would like to thank: Pro Artibus, Svenska Kulturfonden, Taiteen edistämiskeskus, Finlandssvenskt filmcentrum, Martin Herbert, Bettina Klein, Hanna Johansson, Christer Nikander, Karl-Johan Karlsson, Galleria Heino.