It is a story about life and death, about the beauty of our ephemeral existence and the acceptance that one day we will just be a memory…
Isabel Curdes is a German artist who lives in the quiet Danish countryside with her partner and their dogs. Three years ago, after 25 years in the very stressful corporate world, she quit her job as manager in a major international company following a serious burn-out a few years earlier to turn her whole life upside down and finally live her dream – to be a photographer, bookmaker, writer, painter, and mentor/coach.
Her work is constantly evolving as she loves to experiment, learn and develop. Mainly working in ‘short stories’ enables her to use different media, tools and various techniques for each story to express her vision in the style that she feels emphasizes that specific idea best. Currently she works predominantly in Medium and Large Format film which she develops in her own darkroom and uses Japanese papers to print her work (books and individual prints).
She does not want to be limited to a certain genre or style of photography but sees her vision as the constant and connecting element between her images and also in her very intuitive and meditative way of working. This vision is what makes her work very personal combining the outside-in view of her inner joyful child which is constantly in awe of and curious about the world and its beauty and mysteries with the inside-out view of the grown up she has become and the experiences and feelings of darkness and the need for solitude. It is her inner child that creates a dream-realm, a place of refuge just beyond reality and time but still from this world, for the grown-up to escape to, feel safe in and cope with feelings and anxieties.
The main inspiration for Isabel’s work comes from this symbiosis of child and adult vision which she then enriches with her learnings for example about Japanese and Chinese philosophical and aesthetic ideas. These concepts especially Wabi (austere beauty of solitude, emptiness and simplicity), Sabi (rustic beauty of imperfection, of the marks that time, weather and use leave behind), Mono no aware (melancholic awareness and acceptance of the impermanence of life) and Yugen (profound sense of the beauty of the universe and the not obvious mystery behind the world) resonate deeply with her own emotions and experiences and can be seen in her pictures and experienced especially in her prints, paintings and books.
Her images have a dreamlike and ephemeral quality, turning reality into magic and mystery while at the same time there is a darkness and melancholy behind them – sometimes obvious, while at other times rather imperceptible but always there. She shares glimpses of the beauty she sees and feels in her own happiness but also in her own fear and darkness, having accepted both as integral parts of her life and artistic vision.
Her latest story “Transcending” is the first one she created in colour – she also calls it “the story of a beautiful death”. It is a story about life and death, about the beauty of our ephemeral existence and the acceptance that one day we will just be a memory. Autumn plants are used to symbolize transition and evanescence. These feelings are intensified through the level of abstraction she achieves using expired slide film and the possibilities that a camera with bellows gives with regards to tilt and focus. The story starts with the beauty of the outside world, the hope and indications of a another cycle of life, followed by the feel of the blood, red and pulsating, full of energy and life, the nerves first connecting and finally slowly withdrawing from the outside world, a look inside, deeper, the seeds are sown, then the light is fading, and what remains is a calmness, an emptiness…a beautiful memory…
Isabel is currently working on an artist book of ‘Transcending’ which will be all hand-made and printed on slightly transparent Japanese Kozo paper supporting the ephemeral aspects of the story and the beauty of our lives and memories however imperfect they are. [Official Website]