Behind the pane

Elke Buhr

Anna Lehmann-Brauns’ construal of surfaces

The surface lost its bad reputation long ago; it is pleasant to linger for a moment at the surface of things, where form can be freed from content while color dialogues with itself uninterrupted. Symbolic thinking and psychology always strive to plumb the depths, reassigning meaning to objects like so many boulders. The immanence of the surface, however, allows us to learn just as much – given the needed sensitivity.

That sensitivity is felt at every moment within Anna Lehmann-Brauns’ new works – and is even heightened, too, as the path to the objects – or their portrayals, the same thing in photography – leads over a second surface.

Sometimes what is thrust before the scenery is a simple beam of light; more often it is a window pane – surfaces that are often, but never fully, transparent. They let in just a little bit of what is behind them, just as the photographer always allows a bit of reality into her hermetic world. But they never allow the objects to completely make their way to the fore. They would rather draw the focus onto themselves, to the drops of water, the vapor or the crystallizations that make their existence visible, hence revealing their function as a rendezvous point for form and color – and rendering a clear, solid statement: This photograph has nothing to do with the portrayal; it is about the picture.

The photographic subjects making this statement are anything but pretentious – a rain-drenched glance through a fogged-up window into a cheap, much too colorfully decorated restaurant; that well-known glimpse through a car window at nighttime city lights that suddenly appear enchanted; the hotel room curtain beyond which the big city suddenly seems to transform into a meticulously lit film set. Even black asphalt can reflect colorful light, and we are presented with a wet stretch of paved street gleaming with all the colors of the rainbow; in the works, we also encounter a neon sign holding