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Lukas Felzmann, "Room for Endangered Species", Installation with 12 Camera Obscura projections and text, Headlands Center for the Arts, CA, 1991.

Lukas Felzmann

Based in San Francisco, Swiss artist Lukas Felzmann uses black and white photography and complex installations to create mysterious and alluring environments which explore nature through human constructs. Beautiful yet stark images of birds, cracked pavement, barbed wire and carefully piled stones lend a charged atmosphere to many of his works. There seems to be an intense and powerful looking highlighted by lighting and a juxtaposition with furniture, books and other indoor items.

Institutional learning and the many ways people seek to domesticate the world are exposed in nuanced and unsettling ways. The measured study of nature essential to our survival paves the way to both our potential salvation and our eventual demise. Though Felzmann's work, our environment appears dissected, condensed into stacks of books and strung with wires, threatened but ultimately triumphant as it tears apart and floods our roadways and topples our houses. Yet far from aggressive, his art is subtle, metaphorical and based in a world which seems to elude easy categorization.

In a time of simplified black and white discourse and didactic sound-bites, Lukas Felzmann brings a welcome and refreshingly bold vision in which black and white photographs, nature and the everyday stuff of life communicate directly and open doors to further inquiry.

"This installation [shown] came from the experience of tension between nature and culture in the San Francisco Headlands, but stands as a symbolic gesture for any place. It was the close proximity of the endless urban sprawl to the "park" as nature sanctuary and how easily I could move from one to the other which influenced my work while I was there. Nature seemed to be almost reclaiming the ruins of civilization, but when I came across a list of Endangered Species I was struck by the incredible amount of names on it.

I decided to make a piece about this with an installation which would embrace the landscape, bring it in to the empty architecture of the building so that they become part of each other and both could be contemplated in the same space. Through twelve Camera Obscura projections, which fell on a transparent list of all Endangered Species, one was surrounded inside the room with an upside down outside. The space created mirrored the dichotomy of the beauty outside and the terror inside."

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Landfall: Photographs by Lukas Felzmann

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