Back from the Festival
This last May Klaus Kampert was a guest artist at the 15th European Festival of Nude Photography in Arles. Not only was his work exhibited but the organizers chose one of Klaus' photographs for the main poster of the exhibit. A somewhat controversial choice… Klaus has very kindly accepted to answer a few questions on the subject.
Left: image from the series "Narrow". Right: image from the series "Not At Right Angles".
You were invited to exhibit your work at the European Festival of Nude Photography. Was this the first time your work was featured at this event?
Klaus Kampert: Yes this was the first time for my work to be featured in Arles. I first learnt about this event when one of the organizers visited an exhibition I had in Paris in 2013 and talked to me about everything.
Do you consider yourself a photographer of nudes? And what is the importance and purpose of nudity in your work?
Klaus Kampert: First of all I do not consider myself a photographer of nudes. My photography centres around nudity as a means of revealing the model's mind and emotions through body language. The body is the shell of the soul, the 'shelter' on the one hand and the 'storyteller' on the other. So if I want to show humanity in my images, I question the body of my subject which can then reveal the emotional side. Dresses and accessories would only be distracting. Nudity is truth.
How did you choose the photographs that were exhibited?
Klaus Kampert: It was the directors of the festival who proposed to put my triptych "Crucifixion" into the center of my show, which I gladly accepted. As I wanted a symmetric appearance for my show I added to the left and to the right 3 images each of the "Torsi" series and 5 images each from "Narrow" and "Not at Right Angles". The finishing touches were the single images on the far right and left from the "Herculesse" series.
Did the exhibition space (the Chapelle Sainte-Anne) have any influence on the photographs/series you selected for this exhibition ? If so, how?
Klaus Kampert: As the exhibition space itself was a very solemn former church and a central perspective symmetrical space it was the determining factor for the exhibition's architecture. Therefore I brought two series dealing with bodies relating to space, in other words: bodies in spaces within a space. The hanging of all images resulted in a perfect symmetry, which closed the circle with the fantastic location.
One of the photographs from the exhibition was selected for the poster of the festival. Could you tell us a bit more about this picture and the series to which it belongs?
Klaus Kampert: The key visual for the Festival was the center image of the triptych „Crucifixion“ showing a naked female dancer in a position which recalls that of a crucified body. The two images on the left and the right show similar figurines in similar positions. The purpose of the triptych was a formal play with body forms in partly bright light and partly deep shadow which allowed extreme body positions without being in bad taste. The similarity to crucified bodies was collateral.
This picture has caused some controversy because some people find it blasphemous. Did you think of that when you took the picture?
Klaus Kampert: When I took the picture I was thinking about the concept as mentioned above. In no way did I have the intention of offending someones beliefs or feelings. I knew that this triptych, to some people, would be borderline but i did not think that it would cause a controversy, especially one of a religious nature!
Were you surprised by this reaction and how did you deal with it?
Klaus Kampert: The French TV France 3 interviewed me about the incident and I grabbed this opportunity to state my case. There have been thousands and thousands of victims who were sentenced to death by crucifixion especially in the middle east beginning about 1000 BC and continuing after Jesus Christ. So my images do not necessarily refer only to the death of Jesus... And in the arts there is liberty. I am at liberty to develop a concept which shows a woman in a position like I did. I don’t ask for understanding but respect from the thinking of others.
More generally, what reaction did you get from the visitors?
Klaus Kampert: There were thousands of visitors in la Chapelle St. Anne from all different backgrounds. I had very interesting talks with quite skilled people asking many questions about my intentions. There were art lovers and also tourists dropping by. The general reaction was absolutely positive… including in relation to the triptych. Those 10 days in Arles were a great experience for me and I enjoyed them thoroughly!
- (Top to bottom) 1, 2 et 3 : views of the exhibition inside of Chapelle Saint-Anne, in Arles.
- 4 : projection in the "Carrières de Lumières", in Baux de Provence during the Festival Night.