Ildi Hermann’s Photo Series: Daughters
Ildi Hermann’s Photo Series: Daughters
One of the fundamental topics for contemporary art photography is the depiction of the world of children. The image representation of the next generation is suitable for describing the essence of currently ongoing existential and social processes. View in a children’s room. Depicting the personal environment and private life of artists is a topic that has been present since the birth of photography. The artists’ families: their life partners, members of the previous and more often the following generation, their child(ren) are often in the photographs. In contemporary photography the introduction of private life situations and significant people more specifically artists’ children in pictures covers a wide area. It is positioned somewhere on the scale ranging from capturing spontaneous, every day moments to complete staging treating children as models. It also originates from the choice of topic itself that the pictures, photo series often combine the characteristics of family photography only intended for personal use and the qualities of art work intended for public display. The reality of Ildi Hermann’s series entitled ”Daughters” is built up from the constellation of upsetting portraits, still lives with strange subjects, random or seemingly random compositions, ordinary settings and their tipping over at a certain balance point, surprising image cropping, unusual details, conscious choices and coincidences. The plastic animals in the water of the tub after the bath or among the Rozi’s strains of hair show certain moments from an everyday process in which beyond the identifiability of the person or situation a multitude of meaning layers come alive. The girl having a bath in the tub becomes a portrait, the animals floating among the foam patches become still lives and do not only carry their own meaning anymore. Each picture is surprising as a whole although they depict common situations, usual actions, everyday objects, familiar locations. The expression of powerful, pronounced visual opinion can also be spotted in the depiction that is built on being personal, but distant in its presentation. The mother and artist being in a double role when taking the photo is also inside and outside the situation at the same time taking pictures of her own daughter and of the children in her group of friends. The purpose of the photos that are not intended for the family photo album is not only the later identification of the specific face at the given age. It is rather to show that in this ‘here and now’ of the 21st century there is such a little girl, and there is another one and also a third one. They are surrounded by these objects, these are the events that happen in their lives and this is the way they dress up for a birthday party. This means that everything that we are looking at in retrospect when reading the family photos of old times going beyond finding out what our maternal great great grandfather looked like as a child is already there as the purpose of the photographer before taking the photo and at the very moment of the exposure.
The pictures of the series show what the world is like around us and inside us, and how our children exist with us and among us. They are tirelessly exploring the world: looking for their place among the holiday scenes, playing hide and seek closed up in costumes, forgetting their roles, stumbling in their touching loneliness they share the beauty of their uniqueness that speaks for itself. The photos of the series by Ildi Hermann entitled ”Daughters” tell us the stories of being a child by also telling a lot in the meantime about the context system they exist in. Although her portraits are primarily face portraits of her daughter, Rozi, and of other children, but not only that; they are also realistic images of a surreal world. Where little girls sometimes prepare for their adult female role, at times they show their innate beauty or just hide behind a grotesque mask. They live by looking for their models, by acting out who they would become, act similarly to each other or differ from each other. Their implausibility lies not in showing themselves, but originates from the constellation of all the elements of reality appearing in the photos. This extraordinary family album includes not only the events with family, friends and peers, but also what happens during the time between these events. The locations, interiors do not only appear as backgrounds, but constitute an organic part of the introduction of this world. In this album there is no difference between the essential and the unimportant, because both are parts of life, the process itself. Who can tell at this moment that when looking back from the future which moments would be fateful? Will it be the sight of the dinosaur skeleton in the wardrobe, the group picture with the child who is hardly visible in the fog and stands with us and apart from us at the same time, or the one with the bathing suit in the company of the white rabbit laying in the red armchair? This is not our task. It is rather to recognize ourselves in these pictures, see our and our children’s questions and ponder on the possible choices.