born 1968 in Siegen, Germany
lives and works in New York and Germany
the quiet of dissolution
Natural disaster per definition only exist because of human presence. Destructive forces are essential for development, nature´s existence is based and dependend on catastrophic, sudden changes. These necessary processes lead to destruction of human environment and thus to the catastrophe. The transition of when nature is perceived and revered as sublime and when feared as destructive depends on several aspects, among them physical distance, and whether exposure is by choice and temporary. The perception of natural disasters has gone through changes with the advancement of technology. Nature was no more perceived as the outside enemy but seen almost as a controlable entity, to the point where control achieved the opposite - man made catastrophes. There is a great fascination with nature´s forces, particularly when its activities become catastrophic. (...)
Every society puts up clear boundaries, borders or categorisations to define itself: to define and separate the normal from the abnormal, the edible from the inedible, the clean from the dirty. We are alternatively fascinated, horrified or excited by the breaking down of these borders and by the possibility of contact with what is „other“, with what is on the other side of our orderly world. Overall, culture becomes in many ways a symbol of control over nature - nature becomes its Other. I am interested in natural disasters as the symbol of this interpretation of culture equivalent to order against nature equivalent to chaos. Even though the definition of boundaries has become more complex as human involment in causing natural disaster is becoming more appearent, there is a great fascination for what is threatening and out of our control. This juxtaposition will be found in my images, iconographic depictings of natural disasters, frozen images of the unforseen, sudden and overwhelming, photographs of models that pretend and question authenticity, control and order of the chaotic.
from: Sonja Braas