Curated by Kristina Lindemann, Location: Buco Nero, Roslagsgatan 4, Stockholm, Exhibition dates Oct 9 – Nov 16, 2015
Johan Töpel creates open, stripped, and slightly wistful portraits of Stockholm. They confront us with the duality of the city; catching moments of passages and places of recreation in our midst which we hurry past in our daily commute. These images raise the question, how blind we are to our surroundings as we move through our everyday life.
The exhibition In Between Reality plays with our ideas on reality and truth. The images give us a feeling of documentation and capture the city in a given moment but they only tell one side of the story while many more sides to the true experience of a place exist. Are the images realistic or romantic, simple or complex, welcoming or distancing, calm or intense? Or can we overcome this kind of dual thinking, that either-or and neither-nor judging?
Johan Töpel, who used to be an assistant to Johan Fowelin, often chooses a perspective which highlights a place in an unusual manner thereby giving it an air of intermediacy.
In his work he is also inspired by Stephen Shore, Andreas Gursky and Candida Höfer. Their images often are dominated by a cool, stiff and diplomatic aesthetic that keeps the viewer at a distance. His own images, however, are comparatively characterised by a sympathetic closeness. In some of his works, the perspective he chooses gives a feeling of a cul-de-sac, as if there was no horizon. This often has the effect of making the viewer gain a more bodily sensation, rather than a mere visual experience.
With a strong sense for the interaction between materials, light and form, he creates intricate scenes that draw in the viewer, generating a resonate experience of scent, sound and movement in these places. The viewer is encouraged to engage with the seemingly dull, empty spaces in a more conscious way; to contemplate the traces of human presence and consumer society as well as the relationship between nature and cityscape. Instead of merely being a witness, the viewer is invited to partake, as both an observer and philosopher, to step between the depicted scene and the camera.
The various elements of the image open up a multilayered story and ask us, in a subtle manner: How do we live? How conscious are we of each other and the places we frequent? How do we recognize a place and its changeability? What do daily routines mean for the city and what does the city’s rhythm mean to us? How real, how true is the representation of a place when it simultaneously changes under our gaze? How is the place affected by this?
In Between Reality is Johan Töpel‘s first art exhibition. He further works as a photographer in the realm of advertisment, portrait and architecture, as well as with film. He also has a previous background as a computer engineer. Many of the images are taken with an analogue 4x5" camera with the images processed digitally afterwards.