“I am reminded of the strange twilight that some of the Pre-Raphaelites used to impose fantasy across their performing muses. This light triggers a response in the viewer that is meant to be neither here, nor there-it is an imposition stuck between differing gravities and concerns ultimately rendering the viewer’s need for explanation nil”.
When I look at these photographs, I can almost see on a micro-level, the breeze roll over the tiny hairs of the naked subjects within. These fine downy hairs line the body and reflect its movements atop sheets or poised in soft and gentle if recalcitrant gesture. There is an alluring lucidity implicit and you can see, by the cool pallor of dusky light the way in which the skin stretched taut against lithe ribcages undulate with the movements of the diaphragm of the lungs underneath. This light, semi-nocturnal and persisting towards the nebulous is the key factor in which the images of the body or the landscape as its metaphor function within Nassima Rothacker’s work.
When looking at the bodies cooling by the fading of the half-light in the photographs, I am reminded of the strange twilight that some of the Pre-Raphaelites used to impose fantasy across their performing muses. This light triggers a response in the viewer that is meant to be neither here, nor there-it is an imposition stuck between differing gravities and concerns ultimately rendering the viewer’s need for explanation nil. Neither day, nor night, the light in Rothacker’s photographs operates like a swinging pendulum in which one does not consider outcomes, but rather considers its function instead. This pendulum is of course produced from the inescapable feeling of uncertainty. Images are cropped and poses are used to obfuscate identity. We understand the idea that these are people and yet the outcomes of representation are denuded and our considerations appeal to the function of light instead of the natural interests in persisting the identification of each swing of the pendulum or metaphorically-speaking, Rothacker’s subjects.
Rothacker’s images pulse, waver, and shimmer in an inexact delivery of romantic dialogue. Her landscapes are an echo of where the subjects in her work situate our complicit understanding of feel and mood. Through the silhouetted use of decaying leaves, single-source ambient light-be it from the street or moon, Rothacker’s ability to set a stage for her subjects is compellingly-oriented towards an affinity of solidarity between the two types of subjects in her work. The land represents the external, the portraits an internal monologue that when conjoined offer a rejection of the verisimilitudes of truth that speak about condition over the imposed authority of the real. There is a gracious nod towards the sublime and perhaps her work’s indebtedness is better situated through the history of painting-from Friedrich to Turner, one can make some analogous reference points to her handling of the exterior natural world.
“There is a gracious nod towards the sublime and perhaps her work’s indebtedness is better situated through the history of painting-from Friedrich to Turner, one can make some analogous reference points to her handling of the exterior natural world”.
Nassima Rothacker participated in The American Suburb X/VOID Athens workshop with Todd Hido this last November, 2019. Of all the participants in that particular laboratory, Nassima’s work stood out, among many great bodies of work as having a very singular and developed approach to portraiture and landscape images that subsist in a world in which kerosene or fireplace light felt the norm and not the exception. Her images exceeded in feeling like they were a continuation of a much larger project in which the dynamic approach was not found in an abundance of images, but rather the slow methodical appreciation of producing photographs slowly and holding back images that she was uncertain of. It is my hope to see her publish a book at some point in which she will be compelled to understanding her frames within the context of sequencing. I believe a powerful body of work exists and that the result in book form will be successful. I also happen to love the idea that she is a jobbing photographer working in the photography of food production and yet has this hidden and sensuous world of photographs as her “side game”. I am always envious of people who can discern a living from commercial photography and who are also incredibly talented on the art side of things. It is a rare thing to behold.
Our next workshop Max Pinckers: Speculative Documentary will take place in Athens from March 31-April 4th. You can find more information on the VOID site.
(All Rights Reserved. Text @ Brad Feuerhelm. Images @Nassima Rothacker