LIGHT ON: Utopia by Maren Klemp
The concept of “Utopia” has existed since the dawn of man. The idea of creating an “ideal model“, a good, fair, loyal, equal and supportive world has always been in the minds of great thinkers, artists and writers.
From the “Republic” of Plato, to the “Island” and the “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley. From the bucolic community of artists in Arles, dreamed by Vincent van Gogh, to the Thaiti of Paul Gauguin. Passing by a cornerstone of the genre, which cannot be not cited: the city of “Utopia” by Thomas Moore.
“Utopia” is also the title of the new photographic project by the young and talented artist Maren Klemp.
A photographic series that questions the rights and possibilities of women, and, in a broader sense, the need for equal opportunities for all mankind. Always, anyway and anywhere.
These 11 photos depict a little girl in the guise of an explorer, boxer, scientist, doctor… All those jobs that, for one reason or another, have been the exclusive prerogative of men in history.
As Maren Klemp says in the project statement: “Growing up in the 1990’s I never experienced limitations because of my gender. I took it for granted that I could be whatever I wanted to be. It was not until I got older that I realized that I actually do not have the same possibilities as men. This realization made me aware of the women of the past and their limited rights and possibilities“.
The photographer then imagines what could have happened if, even in past centuries, women had the same possibilities as men.
Maren Klemp – Utopia: the style
Stylistically Maren Klemp brings us back to the dawn of photography: a beautiful “old style“, which evokes the official portraits of a century and a half ago.
And that comes, as an older reference, from the portraits of the great personalities, made at least from the Renaissance onwards. The serious figures of the characters (perhaps too often men, Klemp might rightly think) was flanked by the tools of their profession. The social status and the importance of those men for the community were therefore unequivocal.
To name a few, we can just think of the figures and objects of “The Ambassadors“, the painting by Hans Holbein the Younger (1533) [part of the collection at the National Gallery in London]. Or to the portrait of the architect Jacopo Sansovino by Tintoretto (1566), who holds a compass in his hand, to highlight his important profession.
A neo-antique style, which gives very beautiful visual results. Simple and direct framing, desaturated colors, with a dark, red, brown or blue dominant.
It is relatively easy to “digest” these photos. To understand their beauty. In some ways they seem “already seen“, and therefore already introjected, from the brain and the taste. This is, without a doubt, a merit of the artworks.
It is a project that has formal analogies in contemporary photography. Just think of the works of another young photographer, the Argentine Romina Ressia, of which we have already spoken, and who, in her shots, showed an interesting hybrid between antiquity and contemporaneity.
Maren Klemp – Utopia: the inclination to the Future, (re-)thinking to the Past
The photos of Maren Klemp are a concrete reference to the past, but they are enriched with interesting conceptual stimuli. They induce reflection. How the good art does.
The past, of course, can not be changed. Then these photographs, so, are clearly directed to the future.
Judgments about the past are always ambiguous, because it is never easy (if not impossible) to judge what we could not really live. What we have not had direct experience with.
But the future is always to be built. And the hope is to build it for the better. At least you have to start with the best intentions.
This is why one of the most interesting aspects of this photographic series is about the involvement of the artist’s daughter in the project.
The girl, 7 years old, embodies the characters of the shots, and, as Maren Klemp says: “It has been an educational experience for her. We talked about how women have been, and still are treated differently than men. We brainstormed ideas together and she is the model in all of the images“.
So, another “Utopia“. With the genuine hope, which must never fail, to give a signal of reflection towards the future.
Text by Domenico Fallacara | the PhotoPhore