I like the practice of Krass Clement. I like the dark, brooding, rough-edged nature of his practice. It comes, he says, from ‘Scandinavian melancholy on the one hand and the “flaneur” tradition from the Parisian school on the other’ (Clement 2020). As someone who used to do a lot of street photography in gloomy London weather, I can understand that.
What particularly appeals to me about Clement’s practice is that he owns his work. Whether he is in Germany, Paris or Dublin, or his native Denmark, there is no mistaking that this is his experience of those places. That is why Clement’s images seem so authentic.
‘“All photography is, in a sense, a kind of self-portrait,” he continues. “To me, it is also deeply personal. Different moods, circumstances and environments affect what you perceive – so the similarities and differences [between those two books] relate to where you find yourself. If you ask Rudi, my publisher, he will say that it was the excellent Irish porridge that was the determining factor”’ (British Journal of Photography 2017).
(Please click on an image above for a Lightbox view and captions)
Clement is ‘more concerned with capturing a state of mind than with situations’ (Clement 2020), and on looking through his portfolios and what I can find online of his many photobooks one can see that he employs stream-of-consciousness techniques and sudden narrative jumps and switches. This is an essentially poetic way of approaching the world, and photography, and it resonates with me. As Alec Soth observed:
‘It’s true that I find poetry to be the medium most analogous to photography. Originally, this annoyed me, because I thought poetry was pretentious. But over time I’ve come to love it. … Like photography, poetry is about suggestion—it’s about leaving a place for the reader/viewer to fill in the gaps’ (Strecker 2020).
These are all important concerns for me. My project is moving from documentary into something much more subjective. It probably shares a certain brooding, low-light darkness with Clement but the real lesson here is that I need to own my practice, which means staying true to my experience and dropping emulation and ‘That image by X looked good so I will make something like it’. This does not work. Another lesson here is in forming and sequencing a story. Plodding along from A to B to C as if following a street map does not work either, at least not when one is approaching photography more as poetry than as documentary.
BRITISH JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY. 2017. ‘Wandering through the Irish Capital in Krass Clement’s Dublin’. British Journal of Photography [online]. Available at: https://www.bjp-online.com/2017/11/krass-clement-dublin/ [accessed 27 October 2020].
CLEMENT, Krass. 2020. ‘Krass Clement – Photographer’. Krass Clement [online]. Available at: http://www.krassclement.com/introduction.html [accessed 28 October 2020].
STRECKER, Alexander. 2020. ‘Simply Paying Attention With Alec Soth’. LensCulture [online]. Available at: https://www.lensculture.com/articles/alec-soth-simply-paying-attention-with-alec-soth [accessed 28 Oct 2020].
Figure 1. Krass CLEMENT. 2017. Untitled. From: Krass Clement. 2017. Dublin. Bristol: RRB Photobooks.
Figure 2. Krass CLEMENT. 2003. Untitled. From: Krass Clement. 2003. Berlin Notat. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.