“There is only one right moment, namely the perfect one, to take a picture.” With these words, Kathrin Linkersdorff succinctly describes the aspiration and the great complexity of her work as an artistic photographer.
Born in 1966 in what was then East Berlin, she fled at an early age into childlike fantasies to elude the inculcations of Socialism. When the Berlin Wall opened, she sought the greatest possible distance, freedom, and change, studying Japan’s art of ink drawing, language, customs, and cultural techniques in Tokyo. These two influences – consistent remoteness and opening up to the free world – shaped her character and her language as an artist. Similarly complementary and as if inimitable is her way of working: playfully improvising with highly precise calculation.
Instructed and encouraged by the U.S. photographer Robert Lyons, in 2015 she first exhibited her captivatingly beautiful pictures of flowers, which oscillate between painting and photography, and found resonance with an ecstatic public. Already today, her name is mentioned in one breath with Edward Steichen, Albert Renger-Patzsch, Karl Blossfeldt, Imogen Cunningham, Edward Weston, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Anna Atkins, whose flower pictures in the 19th century are the oldest known in photography.
In contrast to her predecessors, Linkersdorff also studied Architecture, most recently in London at the Bartlett School, UCL. Spatial seeing, intellectual penetration, and Prussian discipline coupled with Far Eastern understanding lead in her work – whether analog, digital, or with the use of the dye-transfer process – to artistic density in photography. It seems to suggest itself that, in the future, she will turn not only to plants and flowers, but also to objects: her joy in discovery, staging, and her own style impel her to it.
Like the late-blooming Louise Bourgeois, Kathrin Linkersdorff looks back on a life rich in inner images, experiences, and contradictions. So, it is hardly coincidental that Leica International Photography has described her works as “a staging of symbols of transience in processual metaphorics”: “Behind each picture is a complex production process based on a special philosophy. Both give Linkersdorff’s works a dimension that points far beyond the visible.” Precisely these components make her oeuvre so exclusive.
Kathrin Linkersdorff works alternately with Hasselblad and Leica cameras. Her works are found in private and public collections. Along with diverse solo and group exhibitions, this year her first book will be published: “Fairies”, Hartmann, 10/2021.
Jörn Jacob Rohwer