poèmes photographiques – photographic poems
There has been a winter in the cold, a spring in yet another country, a summer and one more winter, there has been a disease, destroying my lungs, and cars did not help much to it. There was an afternoon, freezing and gray, in an ancient graveyard in London, and a dried rose (of eternal beauty) on a ruined tombstone. There was also a poet whose poems were created throughout an old Europe destroyed by fire.
The “Nocturnes” were born out of dreams, longing for something that did not exist anymore, and, who knows, maybe never existed. “Nocturnes” is a collection of shattered poems, songs in perpetual dialogue with each other, fragments of impressions, the choir of a Greek tragedy (or was it Noh–theater?), where flowers (dried roses) stand in for a distant reality.
“Nocturnes” is a poem, consisting of 20 black and white photographs. It is based on music (a nocturne is a musical theme written for piano, played in the evening at well-to-do peoples home in the 19th century — Chopin.) and inspired by the German poet R.M. Rilke (the Elegies for Duino). This photographic poem shows flowers at night, in loneliness and melancholy.
“Nocturnes” inverses the feeling called up by the music. I started working on this poem on a cold winter afternoon in a ancient cemetery in London. A dried rose was there, lost in the darkness of bushes. Outside, Europe was torn apart by war and fire, by hate and greed. The poet was at loss, wishing to escape to a garden of light and rest, a dream.
“Nocturnes” tells about the inverted colors of music, the rhythm of silence, the short lived beauty of a rose in the nightly cold. It is an elegy in which I wanted to distance myself from an European culture that no longer appealed to me.
Philippe Wittenbergh, March 17, 1996
“Nocturnes” has been created and realized between February 1995 and January 1996, between London and Fukuoka. All images were printed in a limited edition of two copies, the negatives have been destroyed (as is the habit of the artist).