An island is a book of 98 pages, in leporello or accordion book, which unfolds over 7 meters: sixty photographs with texts by Jean-Yves Jouannais and Rafael Argullol.
Ruegen, the largest of the German island (900 km2) is located on the Baltic Sea between Poland and Denmark. Its geography is unstable and have shifting contours. The chalk cliffs of the island, down to the sea to collapse in it, carrying with them the trees and all vegetation. The wild island, with views that disappear, was a place of inspiration for painters and composers of German Romanticism, such Caspar David Friedrich (Chalk Cliffs on Rügen). Putbus is the first resort of the island, founded in 1816. Later, other resort stations are established, and Rügen remained the most famous holiday resort of Germany until World War II. In 1936, a bridge connects the mainland to Ruegen, and will allow the carry material from one of the largest Nazi construction project: Prora. The "Kraft Durch Freude" program (strength through joy) extensive entertainment organization controlled by the Nazi state, substitute to unions, promises to build on Ruegen island, an holiday building for 20,000 workers, who will spend holidays in the strictly similar conditions. Prora will be a resort composed of a single building in a long uniform block of five kilometers, facing the sea, 10 000 rooms of 2 by 5 meters, all perfectly identical, and that, for the sake of equality, have all the same window to the sea. In 1939, at the beginning of the war, the project is abandoned, and the building that never invested a single vacationer, is left empty. At the end of the war, the island is part of the GDR, and the ruin of 10,000 lined rooms is used as a military training area for the Red Army, and the location of the building disappears of the maps until 1991. Today the huge bar of five kilometers overgrown is almost completely abandoned, only remains a few museums and a nightclub.
The book An island, brings together photographs taken on Ruegen between 2011 and 2013, and vernacular images, anonymous documents or archives. The origin of each image is not specified, leaving the island designed by the book floating between the possible and the imaginary. These images are accompanied by a text by Jean-Yves Jouannais: Where Leviathan sprawls rotting in the reeds !and an excerpt from an essay of Rafael Argullol: The attraction of the abyss. The book is a double-sided Leporello 98 pages format 13,5 x 26 cm, it unfolds over 7 meters
The book features
Released October 2016
Photographs Marie Sommer and Anonymous
Texts Jean-Yves Jouannais and Rafael Argullol
Languages French - English
98 pages unfolded over 7 meters
60 black and white and color photographs UV offset printing on Munken paper
Folded 135 x 260 mm
This work has been exhibited in France and abroad
Festival International des Rencontres de la Photographie d'Arles, 2012
Institut Français de Madrid, Espagne, 2013
Photo Ireland, Dublin, Irlande, 2014
Pact Zollverein, Essen, Allemagne, 2014
Villa Lemot, Nantes, 2014
Rafael Argullol Murgadas, born in Barcelona in 1949, is a Catalan and Spanish writer, philosopher, poet, and professor of aesthetics at the University of Barcelona, where he also directs the Institut Universitari de Cultura. Author of 25 books, he was awarded the Nadal Prize in 1993 for his novel La razón del evil and test prices Fondo de Cultura Económica in 2002 Una educación sensorial. The text of Rafael Argullol, published in An island, is an extract of L'atracción del abismo published in 1983.
Jean-Yves Jouannais, born in 1964 in Montlucon, is an author and a French art critic. Author of Stupidity (Beaux Arts Magazine) Artists without works (Vertical) The use of the ruins (Vertical), and in the same collection Sand Dams (Grasset). He was editor of the magazine Art Press, and Exhibition (Contemporary Art Program on Arte) and one of the founders of the perpendicular review. It gets the Roger Caillois prize in 2014. He continues since 2009 the Encyclopedia of Wars, a series of lectures and performances,with entries and sub-entries, visible at the Pompidou Centre and the Palais du Tau in Reims. The writing of the introcuction An island by Jean-Yves Jouannais: Where Leviathan sprawls rotting in the reeds !, get the author at the beginning of his latest novel: The Hans Reiter library, published by Grasset in 2016.
« Hans Reiter fut un médecin SS. Hans Reiter fut un personnage romanesque de Roberto Bolano. Hans Reiter fut un préparateur de Lamborghini. Hans Reiter fut un écrivain sans œuvres. Hans Reiter fut un bibliophile d’origine autrichienne. C’est le dernier qui nous intéresse ici, pour avoir collaboré avec Clemens Klotz, l’architecte du complexe balnéaire Prora sur l’île de Rügen. L’île en question, marqueterie de marais et de landes égarée au nord de l’Allemagne, nous en avons, sans le savoir parfois, admiré les falaises crayeuses dans les toiles de Caspar David Friedrich. Quant au Prora, c’est un complexe hôtelier bâti par les nazis, sur son lit de bruyères, barre bétonnée de cinq kilomètres de long posée sur la plage, à 150 mètres des flots de la Baltique.
How I made this project
I self-funded a large part of my differens stay on the island for three years. I work only with silver analog film, it's a slow process, which allowed me to developed a reflection about the aesthetic of the island not only during the trip but also in the time back, when iI reaveal the images;
I always thought the purpose of this work in the form of a book. An island is my third monograph after Teufelsberg (LE BAL / Filigranes, 2010) and Surfaces (Bilbao Arte, 2015). The book is a support that I use to bring together my images in a place close to the appearance of the territory of the photographs, recalling my wandering and experience in the place and the succesion of different areas.
An island is a leporello or accordion book, its shape is a setting of the cliffs and the five kilometers building in a deployment of the book over 7 meters
"Marie Sommer’s work reveals a persistent interest in revisiting history. It is within the context of this retrospective gaze that we find correlative and recurring themes such as the idea of ruin, an interest in architecture and territories on the edge of oblivion, and events, traces and ghosts of the past. In a certain sense, it could be said that Marie Sommer’s work is driven by an urge to try to manage the dialectical distance between concrete experience of the present and experience of the imagined, that is, of that part of the past that persists as imaginary." Sergio Mah, 2016