Friday Fry Up: Mårten Lange

24.04.16

For Swedish photographer Mårten Lange (1984), photography is a tool of systematic examination. His black and white photographs of the natural world sustain formal rigor while reflecting photography’s empirical abilities. Through the use of flash photography, Lange joins individual photographs of solitary objects into index-like series. The work satisfies a human desire to catalogue and interpret objects and patterns within the world.(1) The straightforward manner in which he presents his work is complicated by the chaos within the photographs, showing Lange’s concern for the investigation of photographic representation and serving as a reminder that what we see is not always the truth.

Lange’s series “Anomalies” (2009) is as much about the irregularities Lange found within the viewfinder as it is about those which can be found in photographic representation. Shot at night with a flash, the objects are isolated, bold, and strange. They are further de-contextualized through his deliberate removal of all indicators of place. The absence of narrative acts as a controlled inquiry into the function and interpretation of photography. Like “Evidence”—Mike Mandel and Larry Sultan’s 1977 publication that recontextualized photographs found in American bureaucratic archives—“Anomalies” questions the roles of narrative and source material within contemporary photographic practice.

The publication “Another Language” (MACK, 2014) demonstrates how individual elements can reflect a larger structure. In this case, that structure is nature. Also in black and white, the complex photographs in this book challenge the simplicity of their central placement on the pages. This relatively neutral editorial choice equally connects the objects in the photographs, whether they are of ordinary natural subjects or of more stunning phenomena.

Recently, Lange has been exploring forms of portraiture. For his solo presentation at AIPAD in New York (2016), Lange turned to the urban environment. Whether through photographs of a section of disembodied skyscrapers or a long lens shot of groups of people surrounded by sterile office space, Lange is making a portrait of the contemporary city and the objects and beings within it. For “Citizen” (2015), Lange photographed pigeons in London with a long-focus lens and a flash. The portraits both aestheticize and anthropomorphize the birds. Like humans, they have adapted to the difficulties of urban life.(2) Although pigeons are able to fly away, they stay tethered to cities for sustenance—not unlike their city-dwelling human counterparts.

In 2011, Lange graduated with an MFA from the University for the Creative Arts, Farnham, UK. He received his BFA from Fotohögskolan, Gothenburg University, Gothenburg, Sweden in 2009, and participated in an exchange program at Tokyo Zokei University in Tokyo, Japan in 2008. Lange has published several books including “Citizen” (Études Books, 2015), “Another Language” (MACK, 2014), “Un Langage En Soi” (Je Suis Une Bande Des Jeunes, 2011), “Crows” (Farewell Books, 2009), “Anomalies” (Farewell Books, 2009), “Machina” (Farewell Books, 2007/2014), and “Woodland” (Farewell Books, 2007). From 2007-2010 he was the founder and editor of Farewell Books, which published eleven titles in total.

Recent selected solo exhibitions include a show at Open Space in Copenhagen, Denmark (2014), and “Another Language” at MELK, Oslo, Norway (2013), Robert Morat, Berlin (2013), Ampersand, Portland, Oregon (2013), and Claire de Rouen, London, England (2012). Recent selected group exhibitions include “Deed” at Gothenburg Museum of Art, Gothenburg, Sweden (2016), “The Summer Show” at Pedro Alfacinha, Lisbon, Portugal (2015), “Photography Now” at IMA Gallery, Tokyo, Japan (2014), and “Hindsight” at V1 Gallery, Copenhagen, Denmark (2014); Lange has participated in several photography festivals and art fairs.

Lange has also been published in multiple publications, including “New Scandinavian Photography” (Black Dog Publishing, 2015), “Pretty Young Thing” (Vandret Publications, 2013), “Nordic Now” (Aalto, 2013), several exhibition catalogues, and dozens of magazines including “Elephant Magazine” (2015), “Frieze” (2014),  “Juxtapoz” (2014), “Capricious” (2014), “Aperture” (2014), and “British Journal of Photography” (2011).

Lange has received grants from the Swedish Authors’ Fund (2013/2015), the Swedish Arts Grants Committee (2011), and was awarded the Victor Fellowship by the Hasselblad Foundation (2009/2015). He has participated in residencies at ISCP in New York (2015) and with FLACC in Genk, Belgium (2010). He is included in the collections of the Gothenburg Museum of Art, Gothenburg, Sweden, the Hasselblad Foundation, Gothenburg, Sweden, and Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland.

—Ashley McNelis

Sources:

Jasbär, Anya and Daniel Augschöll. “Interview with Mårten Lange.” Ahorn Magazine. Issue 3. 2009. Web. April 17, 2016. http://www.ahornmagazine.com/issue_3/interview4_lange/interview_lange.html

“Anthropomorphizing Pigeons.” Fotografia Magazine. June 9, 2015. Web. April 17, 2016. http://fotografiamagazine.com/citizen-marten-lange/.