LYNN DAVIS. ANCIENT PERSIA
Exhibition from May 12 to August 20, 2006
Opening on Friday, May 12 from 5.00 pm – 8.30 pm
As heir to the grand tradition of traveller-photographers who were born in the 19th century, as well as following the paths of American landscape photography, Lynn Davis has travelled the length and breadth of America, Australia, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Her photographs do not so much bear witness as to glorify the beauty of places and the feelings they arouse, in pictures constructed with lines and spare forms.
After the exhibition Lynn Davis. Ancient Persia in the Karsten Greve gallery in Paris, the Cologne gallery is pleased to present once more this extraordinary series Lynn Davis shot during her Iran journey in 2001 Fascinated by the sites of ancient Persia, Lynn Davis started her research on this region very early and was very well informed when travelling through this historic region with its manifold sights.
From Pasargadae, the first capital of the Achemenid Empire, to the remarkable architectures of "ice houses", Lynn Davis captures the feelings experienced before the vestiges of a pioneering civilization in her photographs. Associated with the names of Cyrus the Great, Darius, and Xerxes, the architecture has retained the imprint of the many cultures which then co-existed.
Lynn Davis was especially moved by the intriguing Zoroastrian "towers of silence", where the dead were laid out to protect the earth from bodily impurities. As a monotheistic religious doctrine founded in the first millennium BCE, Zoroastrianism thrived until the Arab conquest imported Islam.
From the Arabian period Lynn Davis photographed the rich decorative motifs of mosques. Views of opulently ornamented astrodomes and reticulated vaultings lead us into a world of silent devotion. Detailed views and extraordinary perspectives almost transform these works into abstract compositions full of meditative power.
In photographs like those once of the Azadi tower Lynn Davis changes over to the contemporary Iran. At once timeless and thoroughly topical, these photographs do not shrink from the reality of the country as it is today.
Based on a constant aesthetic purpose, Lynn Davis proceeds by way of series and adopts large square formats, usually in black and white. Her deviceless shots and often head-on framing may call to mind the neutrality of an inventorial kind of photography or, conversely, magnify the geometry and monumentality of landscapes and architectures. The eye thus focuses on the sites themselves, deserted as they are, while the photographer deletes herself from the image.