Listening as a practice: Asocial Telepathic Ensemble launch

This week I had the pleasure of giving an artist’s talk at the The Asocial Telepathic Ensemble launch party, released by the amazing Corvo Records label at the sound art space, Errant Sound (where I was a member for many years).

black and white photography, black and white portrait, artist portrait, art photography, female photographer, music photographer, Berlin

Being part of the event gave me the opportunity to reflect back on the Asocial Telepathic recording session which took place over a year ago — when we were in the depths of another lockdown. In doing so I realised, once again, how much listening is at the core of pretty much everything I do as an artist and practitioner, no matter which medium I choose to use.

Listening with all my senses and simultaneously translating what I perceive are at the heart of my practice… be it in creating river perfumes, encountering horses, or capturing portraits of women.

For the talk, I put together a selection of images that focus on the act of listening itself: depicting visually what can only be evoked in this silent medium.

The first image is a voice portrait of Francis Bebey, a wonderful musician and musicologist, I had the honour of encountering and listening to in 1996 at the multi-disciplinary Sura Za Africa festival in Austria – my first ever photography commission! Bebey lost his voice shortly after, making this image even more precious in later years.

street photography, artist portrait, art photography, female photographer, music photographer, ParisThe second is from the 2001 Langue des Signes series, a photographic research project on the visibility of sign language in Paris’ public spaces.

The third is a portrait of a deaf girl born into a hearing family. I had the honour of following her first steps into spoken language through a technique called Codali (CODage Audition Langage Intégration). The resulting project, Franchir un Seuil (To Cross A Threshold) is part of the Museum der Moderne Salzburg.

black and white photography, black and white portrait, artist portrait, art photography, female photographer, Berlin The Asocial Telepathic Ensemble was initiated and curated by Alessandra Eramo (sound artist, composer, and vocalist) and Brandon LaBelle (artist, writer, and theorist) during the Covid-19 lockdown of last Spring. It’s an international, collaborative work of sound culture that brings together 11 composers, sound artists, curators, writers, and performers (see below for full credits) who simultaneously switched on their recording devices on the 21st March 2021 for 15 minutes. The result was a globe-spanning, telepathic recording session, documenting thoughts, habits, and surroundings — an attempt to connect with each other. No editing was done.

black and white photography, black and white portrait, artist portrait, art photography, female photographer, music photographer, Berlin The recording documents a historic moment in the 21st century, a very intimate glimpse into the reality of self isolation which has been experienced globally. Each recording offers a poetic approach to daily routine and deals with relatable themes such as: communicating with artificial voices, loneliness, yearning to travel, or being bored. 

But, ultimately, these artistic statements also talk about hope, transforming tragedy into irony, and accepting bodily and mental fragility  during the pandemic and beyond.

You can order the tape or listen online.

The Asocial Telepathic Ensemble are: Alessandra Eramo (voice, electronics); Ambra Pittoni (field recordings); Brandon LaBelle (field recordings); Florence Cats (field recordings, electronics); Ines Lechleitner (field recordings); Israel Martinez (field recordings, voice); James Webb (field recordings); Korhan Erel (field recordings, melodica); Lucia Udvardyova (field recordings, electronics); Ricarda Denzer (field recordings, voice); and Thea Farhadian (field recordings, violin, electronics).

Food Creatures: the joys and challenges of food art photography

food art, reduce food waste, plant based food, food photography, branding photography Recently, I started doing website branding photography for the new lobe lokal at Lobe Block in Wedding, Berlin. The core part of this role is to photograph brand new dishes for the restaurant – colourful culinary creations designed to wow the senses… truly, food art! Photographing (and filming) delicious ingredients, vibrant fruits, earthy vegetables, and magical cooking processes has always been at the heart of my own artistic practiceGiven my double profession – as an artist and a cook – these crossovers come naturally. 

However, what I have been discovering from this branding photography work is that being faced with food art born from someone else’s imagination and hands – truly capturing its structure, its colours, its consistencies, as well as creating an image that conveys its nurturing richness – is a totally different endeavour. 

food art, reduce food waste, plant based food, food photography, branding photography Truthfully, this process of capturing the essence of the new dishes felt like meeting delicate creatures, each one a story of its own. They addressed me with their demands: meet me, look at me, study me, show me. And – for their photographer, me – it’s a race against time. They fade, they stick, they dry up, they keep changing and, once they change, there is no turning back.

After the first session, I found that I was both deeply exhausted and moved.

food art, reduce food waste, plant based food, food photography, branding photography So I was really glad to join a food art photography session led by the wonderful Erin Lang – musician, chef, and founder of Bloom & Echo – and her partner Sam. Joining their team for this project, I was able to observe her wonderful way of approaching this new set of culinary creations.

And, since depicting the working process and its many creative layers has long been a core subject in my own work, it was a real pleasure to combine these worlds once again.

Das Rhein Rauschen: a multi-media journey

Das Rhein Rauschen was my 2016 multi-media exhibition in Basel, Switzerland. Translated literally, this title means The Rhine Rush, speaking to the rushing sound it makes as it flows – as well as offering a little play on words around the idea of rushing into something or to do something. With the curation expertise and support of Emily Bruner throughout the whole process, the exhibition took form. 

female photographer, Basel, Switzerland, empowering photography, artistic photography, monochrome photography From an artistic perspective, I was looking to somehow create a new river perfume and my aim was to translate as many sensual encounters with this wild river as possible: sounds, sensations, colours, stories, scents. Rivers are ever-changing and ungraspable and, yet, such a fundamental, ancient, and constant feature in our collective human history: from drinking to washing to burials to songs…

But these water spaces are definitively contained, and we often perceive them only in terms of their boundaries, their banks.

female photographer, Basel, Switzerland, empowering photography, artistic photography, monochrome photography

So, it was essential that my own explorations would take the form of a multi-media project – leaving the many aspects of the river to roam freely through my work, uncurtailed by a single medium. 

To achieve this, I hired a diver who could move like a whale, allowing us to filter out the essential ingredients for the river perfume I was creating. And I cast a woman’s body and its fragments became seashell-like, papier-maché objects.

female photographer, Basel, Switzerland, empowering photography, artistic photography, monochrome photography, female singer, female artistsDuring this process, I also photographed the model with her body casts – one of the many portraits of women I have loved capturing over the years. Plus, I wrote a river soundscape which was then interpreted by the amazing vocal artist, Alessandra EramoAltogether, this was a truly creative flow. The different mediums – photography, sculpture, drawing, film, and sound – emerged from the multi-sensory approach that I had started with to create the scent in the first place.

This scent formed the starting point, and centre, of the whole project: especially the exhibition at Villa Renata, Basel.

I loved sharing my initial research with the great nose and perfume maker, Andreas Wilhelm.  He actually described his position within the project as that of a ‘sponge’ in our collaborative process, which I find very fitting. The direction I chose with him was very close to a natural imprint and, therefore, close to the other mediums I used, like photography and sculptural casts. 

The 50ml perfume bottle is currently sold out, but the limited edition published with backbonebooks – a beautifully boxed set containing 10ml as a river-roll-on, an original papier-mache body fragment, a mobile to make yourself, and a photographic leaflet – is still available. You can purchase on request via email to hello@ines-l.com or via the backbonebooks shop.

female photographer, Basel, Switzerland, empowering photography, artistic photography, monochrome photography, female artists

I hope you will enjoy exploring this part of my work as a space within which to perceive yourself as a river and its shore at the same time. It’s an invitation for you to connect to our environment in an empathic and multisensory way, in order to find new ways to care and to listen.

 

Family portraiture: capturing the beauty

Family portraiture is a fine art.

It’s about getting close, but still keeping that little bit of space. In fact, I believe it’s the perception of a related outsider that best captures family moments: very much present, yet at that crucial distance. 

grandmother portrait, family portraiture, monochrome portrait, artistic portrait, female photographer, female artist Within my own family, the photographic act rarely takes centre stage, it’s more like briefly coming up for air or jotting down a quick note, while being immersed in the flow of things. So, getting round to capturing family portraiture always needs a specific type of urgency in order to make it happen, like when we gathered to photograph my grandmother shortly before she passed away.

During this particular session, in front of my great grandmother’s family home, she urged me to photograph her sons for her. To create the desired set-up with my uncles, I needed my grandmother’s personal commission.

And, I have to say, it was a truly empowering experience for me to be directing them as a professional photographer after having always been their little niece.musician portrait, family portraiture, monochrome portrait, artistic portrait, female photographer, female artist  

It was a brand new dynamic and the resulting images give just a trace of a specific moment in time that will never occur again.

Because I have a deep respect for family constellations and the art called for in capturing their representation, I was very happy and honoured to be commissioned for family portraiture after a friend’s daughter’s confirmation last autumn. Coming into this group of family members and close friends, it felt very precious to be trusted with such an important job. The process was absolutely magical – and a lot of fun for everyone involved.

I could feel that I became a witness and a vessel for what they wanted to express and share with one another.

portraits of women, family portraiture, baby portrait, artistic portrait, female photographer, female artist For my 2012 solo show at the M-Museum in Leuven, Belgium, I took parallel exhibitions as starting points for my installation Poem to be sung. One was the Sol Lewitt retrospective from which I derived the shape alphabet, and the other was a Madonna sculpture from the museum’s Medieval collection. Ultimately, my Artist with removed objects and child  photograph is a dialogue of both these influences, taking a unique place in my growing collection of portraits of women. Plus, I had a 3 year-old boy of my own at home while preparing for this show – my first big solo show in a museum.

So this photograph most definitely captured my creative process in a moving and personal way too.

woman portrait, family portraiture, monochrome portrait, artistic portrait, female photographer, female artist Ultimately, what I’ve found through my empowering photography work, is that people want to be shown with their closest family members. For example, I was working on a portrait of my godmother, a Finnish priest living in Vienna. After our session, she called for her sons, and then her husband, to come in too. It felt to me as if her self image was only complete when surrounded by her loved ones. We are social animals after all. 

And, as for me – the photographer in the room – what’s special and satisfying is the inherent trust that I sense being extended towards me. Being in such a situation gives me the confidence to involve myself, respectfully, and arrange beautiful family portraits according to what feels right.

Food waste reduction: going bananas!

Food waste is a painful part of everyday life for me – and so many other people around me. We order or buy fixed quantities of what we think we’ll use, but it’s actually really hard to predict the exact amounts that we’ll use in the end. And then – due to a combination of a lack of time, imagination, and pure habit – we end up throwing away uneaten food on a daily basis.

food waste reduction, easy fermenting recipe, fermented banana recipe, creative food waste reduction

I’m no exception to these bad habits. Some of the products I buy are poor quality and go to waste before being eaten, while others are better quality but sit too long in the fridge and get overlooked. However, the good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way! Food waste reduction is easy and fun.

There are a few habits I’ve incorporated into my daily practice in the kitchen that I can highly recommend. 

First up, with any bread that starts to go stale or dry, I chop it up into small cubes, then I dry them out in the oven. It takes just a minute or two! These little cubes form the base for savoury knödel delights, which make an appearance in my kitchen on a regular basis. In fact, one of my kids’ favourites is the delicious, doughy south Tyrolean spinatknödel (feel free to get in touch with me for this wonderful food waste reduction recipe).

food waste reduction, easy fermenting recipe, fermented banana recipe, creative food waste reduction Second, let’s go back to the title of this blog: going bananas! Bananas are a precious fruit, but when they start to go brown, no-one in my family will touch them. I used to get worried when this happened – I’m not a fan of banana bread! Now, instead of feeling worried about the food waste, I feel excited because I adore the fermented banana recipe I’ve recently discovered.

I’d love to share it with you…

food waste reduction, easy fermenting recipe, fermented banana recipe, creative food waste reduction

  • Take a 500ml glass jar and fill it with 250ml filtered water.
  • Then dissolve 2 tablespoons of cane sugar into the water.
  • Next, add 2 tablespoons of whey (molke in German), water kefir, or the powder from one probiotic capsule.
  • Chop 2 ripe bananas into 2cm slices and add them to the liquid.
  • Close the jar lid and let it sit in a warm, dark place for 2-4 days.
  • After this time has passed, check the taste and when it seems ready, move it to the fridge.
  • Once fully chilled, this fermented mixture keeps for more than a week.

What I find so thrilling about the outcome of this amazing food waste reduction recipe is the sour, fresh, sparkly character of the drink – in combination with the calming taste of this spectacular fruit.

I like to blitz it in the morning and drink it as beautifully refreshing breakfast. I love the fizzing feeling that spreads throughout my entire body as I sip it. Plus, I have to say that it makes an excellent base for cocktail experiments…

long live living cocktails! Prost!

And it’s not just about bananas and breakfast and cocktails. For example, the fruit skins and vegetable peelings that I used to throw away now get used as a starter for homemade vinegar or cleaning products. The same goes for that tired cucumber or beetroot forgotten at the back of the fridge.

food waste reduction, easy fermenting recipe, fermented banana recipe, creative food waste reduction Plus, pickled or fermented foods are natural super foods that have healing qualities and can be eaten without any cooking involved. This makes them the perfect lunch at work combined with simple warm ingredients such as boiled potatoes, rice, or other grains. And, as they’re already prepared and seasoned, having a jar in my fridge saves me time and energy on a daily basis.

Ultimately, I guess it’s this turn from guilt and concern to excitement and curiosity that has really gotten me hooked on fermentation processes as food waste reduction. The truly great thing about fermenting, is that – once the raw ingredients have been chopped up and prepared – time does all the work and I only need to check in occasionally (like saying hi to a friend!) until it’s ready. So, let me know how you get on with this fermentation recipe. I hope you enjoy! 

 

The Magic of Portrait Photography (Part Two)

My portraits of women are a cornerstone of what I do. In that work, I am often hired to do a single portrait, which then expands into a pair or group portrait – this is down to the natural, evolving need to subsequently show that same person in connection with their products or within their team.

While in a single portrait session there is an intimate space between the person I am photographing and my camera, especially in terms of what she wants to represent professionally, as soon as there are two or more subjects, their shared relationship comes into play.

portraits of women, empowering photography, Berlin

Channeling my empowering photography ethos, my aim was to show Caroline Schneider, founder of Sternberg Press, as the true art and discourse-related thinker, as well as leader that she is.

When I took this solo portrait for Sternberg – a publishing house for artistic and cultural criticism, creative non-fiction, and literary and experimental fiction founded by Caroline in New York in 1999 – it gave way to a team shoot where I captured an even fuller picture of their work environment and the dynamics exist between them. It is in their creative home on Karl-Marx-Allee, amidst their books, that I took this series.

group portrait, empowering photography, Berlin

I wanted to illustrate how Caroline has a very strong relationship to each and every single title published by the press, plus with the vital, dynamic team she has carefully built over the years in this truly unique place. Her beauty shines.

Indeed, once you start representing a person in a professional context, there is always that wider spectrum or bigger picture which wants to be shown to the world. And, ideally, all of these photographs should be taken by the same person, so that they can create a cohesive vision – one which aesthetically becomes one body. That’s where I come in!

art curator, women portrait, women monochromeIn this vein, I’ve also photographed Eva Meyer-Hermann: a curator and art historian who decided to become a curator for artists, as her way of responding to the political developments in the art world which have led to its general lack of real exchange and mediation.

And it was precisely at this special moment of building her new identity – and website – that I came into the picture, with my personal branding photography, with the aim of communicating both Eva herself and her practice to a wider audience.

personal branding photography, portraits of women, empowering photography, art curator

We spent a couple of hours together in her office – first alone, then with her associate curator, Johannes Schmidt. Every photograph I took for Eva had a different role to play. In the headshot, the aim was to show her as open and smiling, offering an invitation for dialogue.

The other two images show moments of contemplation and creative thinking, as well as her explaining a work of art that is dear to her.

Similarly, I have enjoyed the privilege of capturing Laura Galatti’s portrait. Laura is a Swiss pianist, composer, and politician. After having encountered her and her partner, Christina Thürmer-Rohr, performing Die Kontroverse in the Viennese Liszt-Saal, I had the honour of joining them during rehearsal in their performance space, Akazie 3, here in Berlin Schöneberg.

empowering photography, portraits of women, female pianist, female artistsMy role in facilitating empowering photography here was centred on conveying Laura’s artistry and skill. This type of work presents me with the wonderful challenge of somehow finding a meaningful way to convert aural beauty into a visual medium.

So in my single portraits of Laura, the viewer is able to experience Laura listening to the sound she is producing with a metal sheet. And in her partnered shots, I have sought to communicate her close relationships and dialogues with her instrument, her partner, and the very process of writing music.personal branding photography, portraits of women, empowering photography

Ultimately, it’s all an organic process. During the portrait session, the women I’m photographing talk with me and show me what they are selling or creating or offering. Then, I capture these aspects too.

In fact, in so much of my art photography work to date, I have searched for ways to capture invisible processes within a photographic image, something of an essence that would otherwise be hidden: from plants and fruits, to animals, and nonverbal communication between people.

In this way, I am very versatile in what and how I can photograph, so website photography – as this broad, rich spectrum – just comes naturally to me. 

 

 

The Magic of Portrait Photography (Part One)

food waste reduction, quinces 2021I adore quincesI love their velvet skins, the hard bodies, their rich perfume, their androgyne character, their rich yellow colour that turns red in the cooking process. I love how they challenge me as a cook and I love their role in ancient cooking practices – both here, in Europe, and in the SWANA* region – and find it interesting to think about what traditions they have been part of throughout history. In fact, I am currently experimenting with some Jewish SWANA recipes, both savoury and sweet: I have a wonderfully large quince harvest waiting for me on my balcony at home and, true to type, will be documenting my processes in working with them this season.

Outwith my own kitchen, I am devoting time and energy to a brand new space that, like my own kitchen, will be home to exciting experiments and adventures in all things food – including food waste reduction – and the senses.

creativity workshops, art workshops, Lobe Berlin 2021Lobe is a house project in Wedding: a newly built, brutalist concrete building defined by its terraces, its garden – where, among other things, quinces grow – and its many cohabiting animals. Soon, its ground floor units will become one space, a fresh, joint space for events, workshops, food experiments, and a lab for creating a more sustainable future.

Ana Zatezalo and Olivia Reynolds are the founders of this new space and project. With quinces fresh in from the harvest of the Lobe garden and the quince being chosen as the symbol of their new venture (name to be revealed!), I knew that I just had to channel my empowering photography approach to capture them with these brilliant fruits as a symbolic starting point of their collaboration journey.

So, what happens when you bring artistic, innovative women and versatile, delicious fruits together?

personal branding photography, portraits of women, empowering photographyNot least a dream commission for me as a portrait photographer in the world of personal branding photography… weaving together my roles as a member of the founding team, cook, and photographer – one who specialises in portraits of women and fruits! – and capturing the very essence of Lobe’s future here in Berlin.

Over the next couple of months, I will be the one to create all of Ana and Olivia’s website photography: ultimately creating online portraits that communicate the playful potential in business collaboration. This is part of my work that I really love – distilling and celebrating the character and mission of fascinating people who are creating important work. So, watch this space…

*SWANA is an acronym referring to the wide geographical area which encompasses South West Asia and North Africa.

 

ink connections

Late summer greetings!

The two workshops by Lucila Kenny at WirWir Berlin on natural dyes from food waste and ink making from the plants that grow around us lead me on a wonderful journey.

I acquired new skills to experiment with in my creativity workshops and have met many interesting and skillful people here in Berlin.

It also traced a colorful paths to three women I had the chance to be and work with in past Septembers in the forest of Kent and at Mount of Oaks in Portugal in the context of the nomadic residencies by fourthland. Here are two portraits of Maya and Gail from Portugal.

While making the inks here in Berlin, images of M. writing for hours an anger script in Catalan and later reading it out aloud and burning it in the fire kept flashing up in my mind.

Following my invitation, M. has made blackberry ink near Bristol and is preparing a script yet to be traced on whereas Gail has kindly sent me one of her drawings with Walnut ink.

 

September weavings of friendship, ink and living colours

Secret Colors Hidden Within

Hello there,

When I first read about the practice of Lucila Kenny and her approach to natural dyes my heart skipped a beat. The way she connects the political and ethical questions with the care for the plants we find around us and the joy of creating just makes so much sense.

Yesterday I finally had the honor of participating in one of her “Making Colors with Food Waste” workshops at the amazing new project space in Neuköln WirWir run by April Gertler and Adrian Schiesser.

Here is the outcome of three recipes: red currents, yellow onion skins and red beet skins with four different fabrics:

As I work in my creativity workshops with colors, food, drawing, scent and processes of transformation, Lucila’s perspective on colors hidden within the plants in often unexpected parts is deeply moving. It shifts our perception in yet another direction and opens a new world of relations and fields of experimentation that I want to integrate more into my own workshops in the future.

For example it is the greens of the carrot that can produce a bright yellow color whereas the carrots  – staining orange on the touch while handling them – contain close to no transferable colors. A whole new field has opened and I am so looking forward to explore it with you!

I also want to share with you a related work I produced a year ago for a solo show with Hans-Jörg Mayer at after the butcher in Berlin. It was a show and a site-specific video work connecting the art works to the space and to different recipes for fermented vegetables. The plants were then fermenting in the exhibition space along side the art works and were shared with the visitors at the closing of the show.

Save the scraps: unexpected recipes

Hi there!

Hope you’re feeling connected and alive with new adventures, travels and experiences as we move into late summer. Inspired by my creativity workshop on food waste reduction, I thought I’d share two simple recipes with you for using leftovers.

Lemons are an ongoing theme in my drawings and photography, but lemons and oranges also offer a wonderful option for making a multi-use cleaning product. After you’ve made lemonade or seasoned fish, just put your leftover citrus into a jar filled halfway up with any simple vinegar. Press down until the fruit is covered. Close the jar and add more lemon and orange peels over time. Once the jar is full, place it in a sunny spot for about 2-3 weeks. Remove the fruit and use the liquid offering a bright scent and disinfectant benefits.

Now, on to something you can eat. We all love crème fraîche for potatoes, dips and sauces. I have a recipe that takes leftover onion skins and vegetable peels and adds a depth of flavor to crème fraîche that delights the senses.

You can use the peels of onions, beetroot, carrots, parsnips and apples. Rhubarb, leek greens, the outer leaves of radicchio, red cabbage, Tuscan kale and celery leaves also work well. Even pumpkin scrapings and seeds do the trick! In summer you can dry everything in the sunshine or use a dehydrator during winter. When dried, pulverize the ingredients with a blender or a mortar and pestle.

If you’re not familiar with it, crème fraîche is cream with added lactic acid bacteria. This converts the milk sugar into lactic acid. This process can easily be mimicked at home with a little buttermilk.

Combine 250ml whipping cream and 2 tablespoons buttermilk in a glass jar.

Cover – closing the lid lightly – and let stand at room temperature for 8 to 24 hours, or until very thick. You might have to stir the mixture if it only thickens on the top. The crème fraîche is ready when it becomes quite thick and gives off its typical light sour smell. Stir well before covering and refrigerate for up to 14 days. Mix in your dried vegetable powder to create layers of flavors. You can experiment with different colors and tastes.

woman by citrus tree

If you’d like more inspiration for ways to use leftovers, I recommend Cooking With Scraps written by Lindsay-Jean Hard. You’d be surprised at the possibilities with the liquid from a can of beans or leftover apple cores! Curiosity in the kitchen can help make what seems like a daily chore into something more dynamic and rewarding.

Wishing you creativity and expansiveness.

Ines