Jörg Sasse b. 1962, Düsseldorf, Germany
Chromogenic print, face-mounted to acrylic
40 5/8 x 63 inches (103.2 x 160.0 cm)
A.P. 1/1, edition of 6
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York Purchased with funds contributed by the Harriett Ames Charitable Trust, 2002
Jörg Sasse begins with other people's photographs and ends with altered images so autonomous that their photographic source stands in question. He digitally manipulates found photographs, often snapshots and amateurish landscapes, by changing the scale, eliminating details, blurring focus, and adding color. His process is akin to painting in that he extrapolates his own images from reality instead of relying solely on the camera’s record. With the most popular and private sort of photographs, he strives to discern an objective form embedded in each, something glimpsed by the camera and not the individual. Sasse's titles, which are numbers selected randomly by a computer, reinforce this sense of a mechanical consciousness in his work.
Sasse studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf with Bernd and Hilla Becher, and his inclusion of industrial structures in his work recalls their interest in juxtaposing such forms. Departing from the Bechers, however, Sasse neither repeatedly analyzes one structure nor records any verifiable “reality.” In 2637 (2000), parallel planks of scaffolding, which appear to recede naturally in one-point perspective, seem on closer inspection to physically intersect, creating the sense of an impossibly claustrophobic space. This shallow vanishing point disallows entry into the pictorial space, an index of the flatness of the photograph itself. In other works, the artist references the tension between surface and depth, as well as fiction and reality, by slightly blurring the image, making it impossible to discern whether it is coming into or out of focus. This recalls the work of Gerhard Richter, whose paintings employ the vocabulary of photography, and for whom the blur is a reminder of his image's artifice. In Sasse's work, such devices are more difficult to read. The rapidly spinning carnival ride glimpsed over the edge of a wall in 8246 (2000) was static when photographed. Thus its current state is doubly an image of longing: we are barred from the ride's excitement by the bleak industrial building in the foreground and the fact that this intimation of splendor did not exist for the camera.