Galerie Rüdiger Schöttle is pleased to present a new work by Thomas Ruff at Frieze London 2017. The new cycle from his "Negatives" series, entitled "neg lapresmidi", is an interconnected group of twenty-four photographs in which Thomas Ruff traces the footsteps of dancing legend Vaslav Nijinsky. The ballet "L'Apres-midi d'un faune" (Afternoon of a Faun), premiered in Paris in 1912, is regarded as a milestone of modern choreography. Thomas Ruff not only revives the individual sequences of this unique ballet performance but also ingeniously capture the extraordinary sensuality of the bodies and their movement.
Since 2014, Thomas Ruff has been working on his series "Negatives", in which he transforms the typical sepia tones of historical photographs into shades of cyan, thus making them reminiscent of early cyanotypes. A new cycle from the "Negatives", entitled "neg lapresmidi", is currently being created and will be presented to the public for the first time at Frieze Art London 2017.
This cycle is an interconnected group of twenty-four photographs in which Thomas Ruff traces the footsteps of dancing legend Vaslav Nijinsky (1889-1950). Nijinsky was the most celebrated man in Western ballet, a virtuoso and a dramatic dancer the likes of whom audiences had never seen. The ballet "Apres-midi d'un faune", based on Claude Debussy's eponymous piece, which in turn was based on a symbolist poem by Stéphan Mallarmé, premiered with the ballet Russe in Paris in 1912, is regarded as a milestone of modern choreography. The ballet tells the story of a young faun unsuccessfully chasing several nymphs on a hot afternoon and eventually quenching his lust with a piece of clothing lost by one of the nymphs. The premiere of the ballet was marked by scandal. Nijinsky played the faun, embraced the veil with a final orgasmic shudder - a closing gesture that gave rise to the ensuing controversy. Yet it was Nijinsky's analytical approach to movement that makes his Faun a turning point in dance history; in it, he made the first steps towards abstraction in dance. Nijinsky's ballet was recorded by Baron Adolphe de Meyer, the preeminent photographer of Vaslav Nijinsky and a dedicated and skilled pioneer in the use of the Autochrome color photography process. Based on this historical source material Thomas Ruff create a cycle of twenty-four photographs that not only revive the individual sequences of this unique ballet performance but also ingeniously capture the extraordinary sensuality of the bodies and their movements. Light, shadow, and movements are dramatically accentuated with their inversion into new compositions with new light/dark values that achieve completely different depth effects and visual experience. Through Ruff's technique, the nymphs appear as if immersed in costumes made of light, and their allure is heightened to another extreme. Nijinsky's choreographic means are effectively emphasized by Ruff's altered lighting; the rectangular posture of the arms and the one-dimensional movements in profile view are distinctly recognizable. Light and shade become visual equivalents of movement.
Thomas Ruff's "neg-lapresmidi" cycle visualizes the virtuosity of the highly skilled dancer and choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky and, at the same time, reminds viewers of Claude Debussy's revolutionary Impressionist musical masterpiece, while also experimenting with the historical shots of one of the first art photogrpahers, Baron Adolph de Meyer: Photography as a memory of dance, music and historical photography, interpreted by the most innovative photographer of our time. (Text: I. Lohaus)