In the Special 60th Edition of Aesthetica we celebrate the emerging photographers that are shaping the future of the image-based practice in The Next Generation. We have partnered with the London College of Communication to survey some of photography’s rising stars and showcase their fresh ideas and new concepts. Joachim Fleinert bases his practice on found photography. Inspired by the flea market rifling that defined his childhood, Fleinert loves to search for lost stories and lives in imagery. Fleinert speaks to us about the way he transforms old photography and his upcoming projects.
A: What does it mean to you to appear in The Next Generation series in Aesthetica?
JF: First of all it came as a huge surprise to see my name and picture among so many talented students from LCC. To begin with I didn’t quite understand in what context my name was mentioned, however when I realised it was in The Next Generation series I was overwhelmed. I see it as a big encouragement to continue my work and especially a great chance for new collaborations and exhibitions in the future.
A: An image from your series, The Things Our Ancestors Didn’t Know, appears in Aesthetica Issue 60, can you explain the idea behind this project?
JF: The idea for the series came from the reflections I had after reading Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes for the first time. I remember that the book made me realise that photography maybe wasn’t just photography but could also mean so much more, all depending on the eyes that sees. I made the series as a visual attempt to illustrate the layer of reflection that I believe every person consciously or unconsciously adds to photographs. To understand a photograph is of course very individual from person to person, which also mean that the layers you see in the series is my own personal reflection on photography. In this example my layers contain descriptions of human anatomy, which is a little reminder that I do not only understand a photograph through my eyes, but also though many other parts of me, that together makes me understand what I am seeing.
A: Can you remember the first photograph you took? What is it about photography that you enjoy?
JF: I don’t exactly recall my first photograph, but I am very certain that it must have been taken with one of those classic disposable cameras that was so popular to have with you on school trips back in the 1990s. I am also almost certain that the camera probably had a very kitsch photograph of a pop-music group printed on the camera, however that is another story. I think my interest started with all the waiting for getting your film developed at the camera store and not knowing what you were getting. In many ways I still have this passion for the alchemy in photography, however today it has been replaced with the feeling of finding photographs in public spaces that makes me feel that I am standing with a little treasure that few have seen before me.
A: You work a lot with found imagery, why is this?
JF: The easiest explanation would be that I simply find it more interesting. I don’t see my self as a very good photographer and in this way I have the chance to work with content that I would never be capable of finding with my own camera. My work with found photography has developed through the years. Why take your own photographs (as an artist) when there is world out there with loads of pictures of untold stories that are just waiting to be told? However, from the beginning, I have always felt a curiosity and enjoyment of digging into a stack of old photographs e.g. at a flea market and find these old memories that were once important to someone.
A: What do you have planned for next?
JF: My work has taken a slightly different direction and I have started to work with colour photographs. Right now I am working with a new collection of 2,000 to 2,500 of original photographs taken by photojournalist in the period between mid 1980s to mid 1990s that are taken from the archive of a defunct Mexican magazine. Surprisingly, I found the images at one of the biggest markets in Mexico City: the La Lagunilla market. Based on the date and names on the back of each photograph, I can deduct that they document the lives of hundreds of renowned Mexicans. Not all of the photographs are edited, so I have all the raw-materials a photojournalist makes before he or she get the right picture. I have pictures of former Presidents and politicians in political events and assemblies, but also images of writers, social critics, human rights fighters, journalist and artists. By rearranging the photographs, I am trying to relate the series to the proud tradition of murals in Mexico. I am doing this through forming photographic pendants with my own interpretation of how modern versions of a Mexican mural could look like. Up until now I have made a few murals (the biggest is about 7 meters wide and 2 meters tall and has just has been exhibited at New Nordic Photography 2014, at the Hasselblad Center in Gothenburg), but I still have a lot of photographs left and research to do.
Find out more about Joachim Fleinert at www.fleinert.com.
To pick up Issue 60 of Aesthetica, visit www.aestheticamagazine.com
1. The Things Our Ancestors Didn’t Know, The Skin, 2008, Joachim Fleinert.