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Exhibition: “Olaf Otto Becker: Above Zero”
November 10, 2009 – January 9, 2010
Artist’s Reception Tuesday, November 10, 2009

On the occasion of the release of his latest book, Amador Gallery proudly presents Olaf Otto Becker’s “Above Zero,” a photo portrait of glacial rivers created by the summer heat melting the ice flats of Greenland’s interior.  Photographed when the sun shines twenty-four hours a day, Becker captures an innately photographic phenomenon and setting: a place where the sun literally inscribes itself upon the surface of the earth.

Becker’s work is deeply imbedded in the essence and laboriousness of photography’s origins. Etymologically speaking, “photography” literally means “drawing with light,” the sun’s rays as graphic stylus.  The images in “Above Zero” literalize that original denotation.  The ice flats, which lay endlessly before Becker’s camera, like the white of photographic paper, register the sun’s rays in lines of flowing water, in rivers of melted snow and ice.  The resulting images are all constituted through the same effects of the sun, but they represent an infinite variety of possible forms.  The ethereal blues of shallow river flows contrast with dark black rivulets of dust and soot which have absorbed the warmth of the sun and melted into the snow, creating cylindrical holes and striations that appear like abstract graphics. These elements fulfill the potential suggested by Becker’s previous work in Iceland and on Greenland’s coast, that of a landscape photographically defined.  The processes of photography and the forces that affect the landscape are so intimately related that they appear merged in these images.  The lines and forms that appear on film and photographic paper emerge in water and liquid baths.  The same is true of the actual setting in which Becker takes these photographs. It is stunningly apparent that Becker’s photographs would quite literally be blank, as though remaining in the form of undeveloped photo paper, if not for the water which gives form and creates the discernable lines, colors and contours of the landscape itself.  This is photography at its most intimate, at its most present.

Further invoking the essences of photography, Becker’s use of large format cameras, employed in settings that are nearly inaccessible, harkens back to the days of nineteenth century photographers like Carlton Watkins and Timothy O’Sullivan, before the snapshot camera, when the photographer was an explorer and laborer who had to painstakingly, and delicately, haul his equipment across treacherous terrain.  That laboriousness is underscored by Becker’s images of a Swiss research camp.  Situated in the middle of the desolate landscape, the introduction of man and man made objects appears so stunningly highlighted and seemingly out of place that their being brought there seems almost incomprehensible.  Furthermore, and in the same spirit as those adventurous nineteenth century landscape photographers, Becker’s images beg environmental awareness and caution.  They plead on behalf of a world being dramatically affected by climactic change, of literally being over-developed and washing away completely.

Olaf Otto Becker has exhibited widely in Germany, Europe and the United States.  Above Zero has been nominated for the 2009 German Photo-book Prize.  In 2007, his previous publication, Broken Line, won the German Photo-Book Prize and his book Under the Nordic Light was nominated for best book at the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie, Arles. 

The Amador Gallery is located in the landmark Fuller Building at 41 East 57th Street on the 6th floor.  Gallery hours are 11 to 6 Tuesday through Saturday and by appointment.  For additional information, please contact the gallery at 212-759-6740, for more information visit www.amadorgallery.com or contact us at info@amadorgallery.com.


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