Absence of Subject by Michael Somoroff (*1957) is a poignant homage to August Sander (1876-1964) and the legendary German photographer’s monumental work People of the 20th Century. It is a thoughtful and passionate meditation on memory, imagination, human resilience and creativity.

Absence of Subject, presented for the first time on the occasion of the Venice Biennale 2011, lets you revisit August Sander’s work, allowing you to understand the richness of his intent. In each of the historical pictures, Michael Somoroff has erased the subject, the portrait, retaining only the background. Through the use of software, Somoroff has taken out what we have always believed to be the “essential element” – the subject, the portrait. The backgrounds, once a secondary fragment, now become the primary motivator.

Seemingly simple at first, Somoroff’s transformations are a complex and ambitious work comprised of 40 photographs and seven animations as well as 40 August Sander original photographs. In the videos, Somoroff takes the new image as its base and adds an element instead of taking one away. He surprises us with tiny increments of inexplicable movements which are utterly absorbing, potent dramas of time and space – endless in the moment, over before you know it.

The exhibition is a perfect example of a delicate balance of alchemy and inquiry. Conceptually and humanistically oriented, each of Somoroff’s images demonstrates the persuasive power and aesthetic of August Sander’s œuvre, even without the human subject. This is not photography as we are accustomed to, but more about the idea of creativity. What Somoroff celebrates is to establish that post-modern art isn’t dislocated, but something with roots, tradition, and continuity.

The exhibition is curated by Diana Edkins and Julian Sander and organized by Admira, Milan in collaboration with Feroz Gallery, Bonn.

It is part of the European month of photography 2015.


24 April > 13 September 2015