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Susanne Neunhoeffer

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The journey is the destination - essay by Adam Levy. - The power of images lie in their ability to extract and enhance meaning from what might otherwise be overlooked or ignored. The best of Susanne Neunhoeffer's work explores a world that most of us would rather pass through quickly on the way to somewhere else: the deserted road at midnight, the forlorn industrial landscape, the empty stairwell. These are melancholy places, redolent of time's passage. They are faded and forlorn but simultaneously laced with an underlying hint of menace. Often there is only a dim light burning or people in the far distance. These are, on the whole, empty places, devoid of the normal bustle and buzz of daily life, landscapes of the margins, glimpsed through train

windows or through the windshield of a car. The world we see here is lonely and damaged, the blur and bounce of the camera registering a sense of unease and placelessness. It is the attention to the overlooked, the fugitive and the fleeting that holds our attention: the way the light frames the eyes of a family on a New York subway, or the roil and flare of clouds outside a window, or the explosive plume of an ocean wave that threatens to overspill a restraining wall. Photography comes into its own as an art form when it captures a vestige, a trace—the face in transit, the landscape passing by the window—and holds it in time, simultaneously a moment and an eternity. Drawing or painting may deepen a moment, probe its inner folds and textures, expanding it outwards whereas photography seizes time sharply, and holds it there for us in its attentive grip. - Geography is a visual theme here, both in a literal sense but also metaphorically and socially. Of the physical geography, we see specific places, and they are more or less identifiable: Havana, Bogotá Paris, and New York, along with European landscapes, which are haunted and lonely and timeless. Europe seems to be a place of loss, her trees naked and shivering, her mountains still redolent of war.

We catch glimpses of a social landscape, fabulous evenings of silk and skin, with just hint at social decadence (the empty mask on the table). - The American landscape seems more technological but just as scarred. This is no longer a place of naïve new beginnings, of simple wide open spaces—factories belch smoke and highway overpasses carve the landscape dramatically. What is interesting is how a European nostalgia and awareness of the past infuses this view of America, and renders the New World old. Taken together, this work seems like a fractured narrative from a film noir, a journey to an unknown place. Most of us travel to get somewhere, but these images point to the fact that often the most interesting part of the journey is not the final destination but the process of getting there. Paying attention to the odd and unsettling glimpses along the way can help make that trip worthwhile. © Adam Levy, December 2001.

Susanne Neunhoeffer
New York, NY
New York
North America

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