Anchored in the field of sculpture, Katinka Bock has always considered photography as an afterthought, as a window onto a sculpted space. With nearly some sixty-five uncaptioned photographs, Der Sonnenstich places photography centerstage. The title of the exhibition could be translated as “insolation”, although the artist considers “sunstroke” the more literal meaning. “I think that’s what connects every moment of my photographic work,” explains Bock. “I record an event, and there’s something that has to do with irritation, with a sting. Photography is this kind of sting that light inscribes on a surface.”
Shadows and surfaces
Lines, arcs, cylinders, cubes: Bock’s work is above all research into form. While in “Building Bridges” a dead hornet becomes the arch of a bridge formed by a closed fist, in “Some and any fleeting, 3” the shadow of a tiny snake winding around the index finger of an outstretched hand is cast on the ground. However, what one takes to be a small reptile is nothing else but a piece of silver jewelry from an archaeological collection. We skip between the animate and the inert.
All these frozen moments contain fragments of stories that emerge like a tiny crab at the bottom of a coffee cup photographed during an exhibition project in Glasgow. The little animal had spent several months cocooned within the ceramic sculpture. This form of life, appearing from nowhere, brings us back to the philosophical question of our origins, between chance and necessity.
Bock photographs what obsesses her, what inhabits her: “There is also something monstrous about these little beasts that sting, pinch, and buzz.” The monstrous is also in metamorphosis and anatomical anomaly. Thus, in the series “Some and any fleeting”, archaeological objects and ceramic creations take on the form of mechanical prostheses.
The hand and the margin
Bock explores above all the treatment of surfaces: “It is not the faces and identities that interest me, but the displayed body parts.” Her images are inspired by the alteration of ceramics, wood pieces, and bronzes that the artist handles on a daily basis. She then builds links between the imprint of the folds of the sheets on the skin and the grooves carved in a piece of wood.
Then there are the hands: the artist’s essential instruments, they are both subjects and objects of her photographs. It is with her hands that the artist makes her sculptures or pictures, and hands are also the focus of her lens. Playing with small animals, holding pieces of fruit or shells, hands execute incongruous and almost choreographic gestures. “The hand is also there to present something to us. It’s that act of showing, that little thing often at the margin of the object the hand is pointing at.”
Sculpture does not quite leave the space of the Pernod Ricard Foundation. Ceramic pieces accompany the visit. This is what the artist calls “the margin.” These fragments of sculpture “underscore and sustain the reading of the photos in the space, like a pencil annotating a text.”
Like a suspended moment
Creation takes time. This is precisely why Bock photographs with an old camera that had once belonged to her grandfather. This return to traditional processes justifies her way of approaching creation: “I have no control over what I photograph. When the film comes back to me months later, the moment is already obsolete.” In sculpture as in photography, it is all about letting go. Working with materials requires specific approaches. Wood and ceramics must dry for weeks.
While the most important thing for Bock is that the medium speak, silence remains, both in the form and the technique, at the heart of her artistic process: “I love the silence of photography, and I love it in sculpture too. It’s a common thread.” There is indeed something elusive about Bock’s work: the trace of passage, like a stolen moment, between the absence and the immaterial.
Katinka Bock, Der Sonnenstich, Fondation Pernod Ricard, Until April 29, 2023.