February, the month the world gets torn into two sides; the ones that embrace and celebrate the long lived Valentines tradition, showering their partners in gifts and kisses. Then there is the other camp who often are annoyed at the fact they are single or rebel against the tradition purely because they feel like it is a money making scam that shouldn’t be bought into.
Whatever camp you find yourself slotted into there should be no doubt in the love and affection you share with family members. That is why I have decided to concentrate this months piece on a photographer who published his love for his mum using photography.
Juergen Teller is well known as a fashion photographer despite him not wanting this label. He prefers to be known as just a photographer and I believe he should be classed as just that. Even his fashion photographs shine through with his own personality that of which sets him apart from the homogenous fashion photographers out there.
He was born in Germany in 1964 and moved to London in 1986. He recently produced a set of photographs that are nothing related to fashion and they achieved just as big a response as his work for Marc Jacobs or Vogue had.
The photographic set under discussion is titled Irene im Wald and Teller has described it as a love letter to his mother.
In the exhibition at The Journal Gallery in Brooklyn, he has used photography and text to produce an intimate insight into his childhood in Germany. Unfortunately I could not find any of the text to feature alongside the images. I assume the text adds another element to the images and it is a shame I could not find it.
‘Irene im Wald’ is named after his own mother, Irene and the photographs feature her wandering through the woods near his home in Nuremberg.
The woods have sentimental value for him and you really feel the sense of nostalgia shining prominently through the images.
I always find that whenever I personally take a photograph there is something to the object, person or place that I find relates to my past or present. It could just be that in that moment someone has done something that I want to be reminded of. The photograph I take may not feature anything to do with that memory but in the end it will act as a trigger for the nostalgic remnants of the instance.
I click the button on my camera in order to be forever reminded of whatever it is I want to remember. The photograph then becomes a resemblance of that instance which will hold nostalgic values whenever I look at it.
The woods in Teller’s photograph may not have any significance to anyone else except him. He has photographed them in such a way that makes you want to question why they are so important to him. I therefore think that the words that are featured alongside the photographs do help explain the significance of the woods further.
Looking at the photographs as a set you grasp at a slight understanding of the relationship between Teller and his mother without fully recognising what it was truly like. The photograph of Irene standing in the distance atop a mound of dirt makes me question whether there was a lack of closeness between mother and son. The fact that she is featured on her own in the photographs also implies remoteness. The lack of knowledge presented in the images about what their relationship consisted of only heightens the personality of the photographs.
The fact that he calls it a love note to his mother makes me wonder if he is trying to tell her how he felt because he never really could using speech.
I like the almost, but not quite, sepia tone to his photographs. I feel that this intensifies the idea of nostalgia towards his childhood. Sepia is normally really brown but these images have a yellowed tint to them which reminds me of a faded sepia photograph I would find in my Gran’s photo albums.
The images featured in The London Gallery is the first of what Teller sees to be a four part series featured in the same woods. This may mean that the relationship with his mother will develop further throughout the remaining three sets.
Taking photographs of family will forever be an important aspect to people’s lives. Never miss an opportunity to capture the ones you love because photographs can bring back so many forgotten memories.