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About Manfred KochMeerhimmelland Somewhere between here and over there lies the sea. A boundless place where eternity and the present join forces, a space of revelation and freedom. Manfred Koch reveals his fascination with seascapes through photographs in which he captures the idea of seamlessness, the mystical force and visual magic of “Meerhimmelland,” a dissolution of planes, a coming together of earth
Somewhere between here and over there lies the sea. A boundless place where eternity and the present join forces, a space of revelation and freedom. Manfred Koch reveals his fascination with seascapes through photographs in which he captures the idea of seamlessness, the mystical force and visual magic of “Meerhimmelland,” a dissolution of planes, a coming together of earth and sky.
Koch’s images are characterized by almost monochrome surfaces – dark blue, grayish blue, pastel colors. In the process of overlapping, all the elements feel as if merely hinted at; the movements of the waves and clouds, the reflections in the water, light – these are the means of his poetic compositions. Through horizontal camera movements and long exposure, Koch produces cinematic landscapes in which breadth and depth elude the tangible. The shoreless horizon stretches across the North Sea like a transcendental, picturesque dream world: Koch’s photographs are works of art through which the viewer can delve into a realm that oscillates between perception and reality, that presents visual puzzles and provides space for imagination and fantasy. “Meerhimmelland” adds a new reality to the existing one.
Things that are passed over or overlooked are important themes for Manfred Koch. With open eyes, an open spirit, and the joy of discovery, he constantly seeks out moments and encounters that are enigmatic and mysterious in their beauty. His photographs symbolize stories and allow for interpretations. In 1995, he began working as the head of Medienzentrale Bamberg and as a lecturer in film and photography, with a particular interest in the theoretical and practical study of photography as an artistic medium. In recent years, his works have been shown at numerous solo exhibitions at home and abroad.
VITAManfred Koch studied theology, philosophy and French in Würzburg, Germany and Paris, France. During his studies he gained an interest in media of film and photography. Since 1995 he has been working full-time as head of the media center in Bamberg in Germany and as a lecturer in film and photography. In 2014 he was appointed to the German Society for Photography (DGPh).
INTERVIEWWhen did you become interested in art? How did it all begin?
I’ve been interested in art since I was a teenager – especially film, photography, and painting, but also literature.
How would you describe your work process?
As a photographer, I am interested in everything visual. I try my best to be observant, keeping open eyes and an open mind. I find excitement in discovering the inconspicuous and overlooked and bringing them to light.
Who inspires you?
Authentic people with good ideas – who don’t take themselves too seriously and have the courage to swim against the tide.
What distinguishes a good work of art?
A good work of art doesn’t leave me cold; it appeals to me emotionally and intellectually – sometimes bringing about happiness and sometimes causing irritation. I appreciate when content and form intersect to create a sensory experience that extends beyond the work.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
WRITTEN ON THE WALLS is the title of my latest series of works, for which a book and exhibitions are planned. My inspiration originates in biblical literature: the Menetekel, the mysterious writing on the wall that appears to the Babylonian king Belshazzar and foreshadows disaster.
What is the purpose of art?
It’s beautiful when art encourages the discovery or expansion of new mental and emotional spaces. Art can raise questions, confuse, encourage reflection, generate empathy, highlight new perspectives, reinforce tolerance, and promote open-mindedness. Art connects people, revealing life’s most essential elements.
Does art bring about happiness?
When art succeeds in connecting different spheres – when, instead of escaping reality, it integrates everyday life into a longing for something more beautiful – it unlocks spiritual realms in which peace and happiness can be found.
Do you have a favorite quote?
I prefaced my last catalog with a quote from Saul Leiter that can be applied to more than just photographic works: “When we do not know why the photographer has taken a picture and when we do not know why we are looking at it, all of a sudden we discover something that we start seeing. I like this confusion.”