September 5 – November 9, 2014
FORUM 033: Lena Grass – Nachtigall (Nightingale)

This year’s second Forum exhibition features the Nachtigall/Nightingale series by Lena Grass (born 1983). This collage of images, comprising portraits, still lifes, landscapes and more abstract compositions, was published in book form in 2012 and has been included in a number of international photography book exhibitions. Now, for the first time, the works are on display at the Photography Collection Forum as analog black-and-white and color prints.

The collection’s title was inspired by the artist’s night-time encounter with a nightingale, yet the songbird does not actually appear in the work itself. Lena Grass describes her choice of title in the following words: “The nightingale represents for me the sensations you experience when you are embraced by darkness”. This darkness, that isolates human perception and experience and forces us to reflect on ourselves, permeates the Munich-born artist’s images of inner and outer spaces. Instead of following a strict storyline, her work combines individual images to create an associative collage. These photographs were shot by Lena Grass in various European cities between 2005 and 2010 while she was studying photo design. This work is not the product of a strictly conceptual approach, but has been put together intuitively – it may initially come across as mysterious, yet it evokes an emotional response. The artist’s almost surrealist images of landscapes and objects capture moods that are unexpected, sometimes unsettling and yet at the same time disturbingly beautiful. Both the objects and the people in the photos convey familiar emotions, just like actors on a stage. Indeed, the theatre is a source of great fascination to Grass: “On the whole, my work tries to explore emotions visually, to create an atmosphere or portray an emotional landscape.”

In the Forum exhibition, Lena Grass presents a selection of images that offer an intense distillation of the mood of this collection. Hand-signed copies of the book, now in its second edition, are available from the museum ticket office.

Born in Munich in 1983, Lena Grass studied photo design at the Munich University of Applied Sciences, graduating in 2008 after spending a semester in Barcelona, Spain. Since graduating, she has worked as a freelance photographer on both applied and artistic projects.