Appropriating Language #21. Reflections

The 21st edition of Manière Noire’s Appropriating Language exhibition series features works by Daniela Friebel, Tom McGlynn, and Holger Stark.

The word “Reflection” is polysemic in that it contains several possible explanations, among others: throwing back unabsorbed light; images seen in a shiny surface; things that are a consequence of or arise from something else; and finally, individual considerations for an image or expression. And the complex visual language of photography appropriates the world -as the world, in turn, appropriates the language of photography- in a constant feedback loop (or reflection) between subjective focus and objective contingency.


McGlynn, Stark, and Friebel focus on a “semiotics of place” each through their particular formal languages. Although each give special emphasis to other artistic practices, (McGlynn is a painter and poet, Stark is an installation artist, whereas Friebel is a conceptual artist), they usefully deploy photography as an alternate means to explore their subjective interpretations and (fact) findings. But however we think of photography as a faithful, documentary, representing of the world, these three artists prove that the way one sees and reproduces reality is very subjective and what is presented in the form of a veritable record may still contain more than meets the eye.

Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.

Tom McGlynn’s photographs are, ostensibly, simple notations of daily observations. Most, if not all of his photographic project, takes into consideration content derived from a type of „psychogeographic“ reflection. The artist is interested in discovering an objectively – subjective point of view that finds itself in a perpetual ramble. In a kind of quotidien Gestalt, McGlynn uniquely frames big, chaotic, whole patterns of colors and shapes a normal passerby wouldn’t necessarily perceive as picturesque or even interesting. These daily revelations come from a context of an apparently ordered world, which Tom McGlynn proves it is a euphony of uncountable irregularity.

I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.

Holger Stark doesn’t see himself as a typical photographer. Rather he uses his camera as a painter would use a brush. In his photographs- which are of a partitional, abstract nature- he avoids any narrative description of place. Even if his constellations of space and materiality are obviously depictable, they strongly repel reciprocal reference. Stark typically takes his photographs while he is travelling, at times when his retina is prepared to amplify the unusual. And however real his objects are, and however meticulously their topography is marked out, Stark’s photographs always withhold from the viewer any real recognition of specific time and place.

I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

Daniela Friebel is intrigued by the question of how we perceive images – and consequently, the perception of reality. She plays with photographic illusions in order to muse about the surface of images, the surface of things – and the tension between the visible and the invisible. Friebel’s photograph in the exhibition “Reflections” shows an object trouvé, in the form of a diapositive that becomes a translucent mise en abyme: the paper frame of the diapositive turns into a picture in its own right – with instructions of itself inscribed. Those who still remember the analogous film frames know how a slide should be put on a projector upside down and reversed. Yet on this paper frame configures an additional instruction: “View from other side” which not only indicates the poetics of seeing but can be interpreted in different ways and reads like poetry.

The three above stanzas are quoted from “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”, by Wallace Stevens.

  • Manière Noire
    Waldenserstr. 7a, 10551 Berlin
  • Opening times: every Saturday 4-7 pm and by appointment