Aesthetica Art Prize Call for Entries Countdown: Missing Places

We’re getting closer to the Aesthetica Art Prize Call for Entries deadline, and with just two days left to submit your work, its time to finalise your selections. An international award, the Prize celebrates innovation across a breadth of disciplines, from photography to drawing, and sculpture to artists’ film. As part of our countdown, we speak to artist Karolina Rupp about her longlisted entry Prospect Poem from 2015. Favouring analogue over digital, the photographer’s work poignantly examines the idea of missing a place not yet  visited. Raised in Pretoria, South Africa and now based in The Hague, Netherlands, Rupp appeared in this year’s Aesthetica Art Prize anthology, Future Now, alongside 99 fellow practitioners from around the world.

A: You state that your work is shaped by psychological and philosophical observations. Is the world you create inspired by the work of any psychologists or philosophers in particular, or are the observations based on personal insights?
KR: Most of my work is based on my personal insights and experiences. I try and reflect on how I myself and others react to certain events or occurrences and how these reactions impact the observer and the observed respectively.

A: Why do you use the darkroom to develop and print your work (as opposed to digital methods)?
KR: A darkroom is a magical place. It requires skill, patience and artistic vision to almost build a photograph from a negative, step by step. Every negative is different. Every print is different. There is very little room for error and holding your final print feels incredibly rewarding. The digital process simply is not as authentic and fulfilling to me, although I do digitally print scanned film on occasion.

A: Was there a specific reason you chose South African and Namibian landscapes in your longlisted series Prospect Poem (2015)?
KR: Prospect Poem is series about the feeling of longing for something, of missing a place not yet visited, of yearning for an experience not yet had. Considering that I grew up in South Africa, I was aware of the natural beauty but also the desolate landscapes the country and its neighbour Namibia had to offer. It felt natural to shoot the series where the two countries connect; a place where there is almost nothing, only strange rock formations and untouched stone and sand. Being in the middle of nowhere for days away from civilisation triggers a sense of wonder, a sense of what could be, a sense of longing. The environment thus naturally stimulated the emotion that I wanted to portray.

A: Your work encompasses diverse perspectives, from the close-up focus of Something in the corner of my eye just caught my attention (2013-14) and Conscious Waste (2015) to the distant landscapes of Prospect Poem (2015) and B4 (2015). Is there an underlying connection between these works? 
KR: All my work is a reflection of what I feel or experience and over the last couple of years I moved from a very subjective point of view, Something in the corner of my eye just caught my attention is a good example here, to a broader, more informed perspective of what I think my reality is and how I see the world. Prospect Poem, being a more recent series is an expression of my current, more objective mindset. The connection between these works is therefore indirect, rather than intentionally created.

A: How have your personal prospects as an artist influenced your work?
KR: The most important thing for me as an artist is to find and use the most suitable method, form or medium to translate what I feel and experience accurately. One development for example was moving away from digital photography to film because analogue photography simply seemed to be a better medium for conveying my thoughts and ideas at the time. After shooting film for a while, the medium itself helped inspire some of my work. Currently I am expanding my skills beyond the medium of photography as new insights require new procedures, which surely and hopefully will influence my work again.

Discover more of her work:

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1. Karolina Rupp, Prospect Poem, 2015. Courtesy of the artist.