German artist Christiane Feser cuts and folds photographs into expansive, abstract panoramas. Her U.S. solo debut at Los Angeles’s Von Lintel Gallery stages a diverse series of these Photoobjects. Hanging on the walls of the gallery in white frames, the patterned paperscapes play tricks on the eye, reading as a 3D effect on a flat surface from one vantage point, then revealing their sculptural layers from another.
In Partition 46, a web of open cubes grow darker and darker in the center of the composition, like a deep vortex ready to absorb the viewer. The sharp angles of Partition 44 seem to swirl around on the surface, while Partition 42 resembles a crowded architectural model, like a bird’s eye view of an impossibly dense suburban landscape.
The objects reach their final state through a series of creative manipulations. Trained as a photographer, Feser’s strength lies in her command of light and shadow. After creating compositions out of folded paper, she explains, she uses “studio lights, flashlights, and sometimes natural light to add specific shadows to the folded forms,” then photographs them. She maintains full control over the photographic process, not even outsourcing the larger prints. Paper choice is crucial, as the final medium must behave in the same way as the initial paper structures. “Tonal depth is also important as it should be at a level that allows the folded print to cast its own shadow,” Feser adds.
The resulting print is then cut up and folded, transforming the photograph into a three-dimensional object. At times, thread is woven into the composition “to emphasize lines.” If the effect is strong enough, Feser stops there—otherwise, the object is re-photographed, and she sculpts the second print into a dizzying network of geometries.
Feser has been working along this vein since 2011, when her series Latente Konstrukte took form. “My intention was to create photographs that did not have a clear connection to a certain object or moment, like photography normally does. I wanted to make this relationship more complex and layered.” She began to photograph intricate paper constructions of her own making. “I needed some time until I realized that the three-dimensional pieces created during this process were interesting and strong enough to stand for themselves,” she recalls.
For her next work, Feser has plans for an on-site installation which will connect photography and architecture. “Wallpaper will play an important role,” she hints, and this feels like a logical progression for an artist whose generative textures already seem to want to propagate far beyond their current borders.
Christiane Feser’s Photoobjects are on view at Von Lintel Gallery in Los Angeles until April 30, 2016.