In her photography-based practice, contemporary artist Ricarda Roggan carefully modifies and rearranges decommissioned spaces and objects before capturing them on her large-format analogue camera. Often depicting anonymous and isolated settings, the resulting images evoke a sense of timelessness and are, through their lack of context, full of narrative potential.Read More
The spaces in Roggan's photographs are deliberately rendered non-specific by removing or adding elements to them. Her 'Attic' series (2006), for example, shows old wooden attics that the artist found in her hometown of Dresden as well as Cottbus, partially submerged in shadows and partially illuminated by the light coming through the roof. The artist left the architecture of the attics as she had found them, but removed all objects and cleaned them to create an empty, nondescript place. In another series, entitled 'Reset' (2011), arcade game machines appear in an enclosed environment made of transparent plastic tarps, while the three photographs in 'Set' (2011) depict only the sheets after the machines have been cleared out. The original site of these photographs is an abandoned bar in Cyprus, but the artist eliminated any signifiers of its identity.
Existing outside specific time and place, Roggan's photographs are suggestive of stories that are never fully disclosed. In 'Shaft' (2006), empty rooms show windows and doors that have been sealed with plasterboard and floors covered in cement. The contrast between the aged white brick walls and the plaster's bright whiteness indicates that the latter is a recent addition and that, as the rooms are seen from the inside, there is now no exit, but the purpose of such self-entrapment remains a mystery. 'Garage' (2008), which captures the smashed bumpers and wheels of cars in great detail, hints at the histories of speed, accidents, and perhaps adrenaline, while 'Apparate' (2015–2018), which was included in the artist's solo exhibition Weimar, Noris, Ernemann at Berlin's Galerie EIGEN + Art in 2019, features projectors seen from different angles or up close. Although many of the projectors are turned on, the content of their projections are unknown.
Unlike Roggan's many artworks depicting anonymous subjects, the silver gelatin handprints in her 'Apocrypha' (2013–2015) series feature commonplace items that are known for having existed near key figures in German history. These include the German-Jewish writer Kurt Tucholsky's sister's gloves (Apokryphen [Kurt Tucholsky, Handschuhe]) and German philosopher Friedrich Hölderlin's wallet (Apokryphen [Hölderlin, Brieftasche]). While the objects would have been unremarkable on their own, their value is recognised through the short text accompanying each of them that—in a manner reminiscent of museum labels—contains the names of their former owners and their provenance.
Roggan studied photography at the Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig between 1996 and 2002, and received her MA from the Royal College of Art, London, in 2005. She has been professor of photography at State Academy of Fine Arts Stuttgart since 2013. In 2014, Kunstverein Hannover organised Echo, a solo exhibition of the artist's works that included the 'Garage' and 'Apokryphen' photographs.
Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2019