5. April 1997

Pictorial Photography (Pictures from Russia), 1997

»Schöne Welt«, exhibition curated by Friedrich Meschede at Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin, 1997, with Antje Majewski and Andrea Rostasy

»belonging – Sehnsucht und Zugehörigkeit«, Shedhalle Zurich, 2001

If the world were as beautiful as today

by Friedrich Meschede

Shots of Novgorod, Balaclave, Sevastopol, Suzdal, north east of Moscow and Yalta lead us into landscapes which do not figure among popular holiday areas, but they are places with a historical tradition. By contrast to Andrea Rostasy, Ulrike Kuschel is anxious to depict these landscapes as a continuum of zones and areas. Her position as a viewer invites us to enter into the landscape, because for Ulrike Kuschel photography is a medium with which to travel; the viewer participates in her walking tours. In this connection, the view of a harbour or a city veduta are both a place and a stage on the way, the image is the moment in the approach to it. Ulrike Kuschel achieves this effect by means of a pictorial composition or a section oriented upon traditional paintings, and which finds the artistic schemata of composition once more in landscape. The perspective composition of the section is determined by »vanishing points«; in the reality of the landscape these represent targets where the journey stops; walkings stops in order to lend continuance to certain moments. These are moments of reassurance, for the cultural landscape to which Ulrike Kuschel travels suddenly demonstrate their »flaws« (Ulrike Kuschel). Here settlements, monasteries, streets, memorials once stood, today these places offer only fragments. Nature has grown over their significance; the landscape becomes a second Nature on historical soil, and the figures, which can be seen in Ulrike Kuschel’s pictures, seem like thoughtful explorers attempting to follow up these traces. The apparently intact landscape, which is feigned, may be decoded as a quite different place in our minds; the linguistic, historical time of the place is transformed into the artistic time of its perception. There is contemplative quiet in these images by Ulrike Kuschel, they are always maintained in a state of suspension between melancholy and apathy, in terms of the time of the day, she captures the half-light in her photographs, although here again there is a uncertainty whether this is the time approaching dawn or sunset. Just as this time of the day is always only a brief transition, the expression of which one would like to keep because the manifestations of light and weather are so vital and dramatic, the medium of photography also corresponds to this phenomenon of a desire to lend continuance to the most unreal moment in reality, to make the temporal »fault« just to say visible.
excerpt from: »Schöne Welt – Beautiful world«, catalogue published by Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, 1997, p. 18-19.