Sasse, Jörg 6544, 2007
injekt print 100 x 180 cm © Jörg Sasse Courtesy: © Galerie Wilma Tolksdorf / Jörg Sasse Photo: Archive Viehof Collection

About the work

If one can still assign the early work to motivic work series, this is completely abandoned in the tableaus. These are individual pictures that are created in relatively small numbers due to the long processing time; they have different formats and are not framed. The pictures, which Sasse for a long time gave the provisional term "computer-animated" and since 2004 has called "tableaux," are also inconsistent in terms of motifs: people, landscapes, actions, abstractions, still lifes, etc., all of which are possible in the rest of his work. - everything is possible that is also photo-worthy in other life.
A striking feature of these images is their seemingly amateurish blurriness at first glance. This impression is deceptive and, upon closer inspection, proves to be the result of digital processing: what becomes recognizable is not a coarsening of the photographic grain, but the underlying digital pixel structure. The reference to the amateurish is true in another respect, however, because the photographs on which the tableaus are based and then processed by Sasse by no means all originate from the artist. Rather, Sasse also makes use of amateur images that he acquires at flea markets or on the Internet. Each year, he views several thousand photos from the resulting collection, from which only a few are selected and then, if necessary, undergo a long process of further editing.

But back to the supposed blurring of the images, which is not such. As soon as the reason for this first disappointment of seeing is recognized, the prior knowledge of the viewer is thematized as (s)an addition to seeing. For the images appear blurred only in relation to a tacitly presupposed extra-pictorial reality, which the image, however, by no means so naively reproduces. Jörg Sasse describes the danger of the identifying gaze on photographs as follows: "[...] the projection surface is large and the apparent proximity to the "reality" of the motif tempting. Quickly the photo itself disappears and the trap of supposed knowledge snaps shut."

Sasse is now interested in the question of the transition from the three-dimensionality of reality to the surface of the image. In this respect, too, the impression of blurriness proves productive, for it contributes to an abstraction that emphasizes the self-referential qualities of the picture-surface. For example, in image 6544 (2007), the train appears to be at a standstill and at full speed at the same time. In general, a picture cannot really show speed, but only make us believe it. On the other hand, the detail of the train car is compositionally convincingly integrated into the picture. The shell of this wagon, whose roof does not seem to be curved at all, but flat, is thus clamped two-dimensionally into the image quadrangle. Its own shadow, which seems to lie on the wagon in the right half of the picture, also appears excessively curved - or is the signal, the electric mast, the lantern, which is otherwise not recognizable to the viewer, really so strange?

In addition: below the train, the shadow disappears completely; shouldn't it also find its continuation on the slightly crooked fence in the foreground? Constant uncertainties due to changing degrees of sharpness, inconsistent colors, and the extreme cropping of a motif that is then based only on gray, white, and red color bands and is interrupted by three opaque black rectangles lead identifying seeing into a dead end and invite persistent contemplation.
The titles of the paintings do nothing to change this experience of an unsettled, liberated way of seeing on the basis of unspectacular views that nevertheless refuse to meet expectations: Sasse's tableaus are designated solely by a four-part number. While at first they may refer to a secret system that is not recognizable to the viewer, this assumption is quickly reduced to absurdity when one learns that the numbers are generated by a random generator. The title thus reveals nothing, designates only the abstract, and consequently has no referential function.
Sasse creates new images that did not exist before. The visual sense of the image is thus also made absolute on this level, for Sasse is in search of a genuine iconicity of the image, of something that cannot be properly grasped with the concept of the "core". This insistence on a peculiar quality of the image contradicts the arbitrariness in the age of the flood of images, which, ironically, with the underlying templates, is in turn the starting point of Sasse's work.

Stefan Gronert, Die Düsseldorfer Photoschule, S. 60-63

About the artist

Born 1962 in Bad Salzuflen
Lives and works in Berlin

Jörg Sasse studied at the Düsseldorf Art Academy under Bernd Bercher. He then held a lectureship at the academy from 1988 to 1989 and subsequently took on various teaching assignments at different universities, including the University of Duisburg-Essen.

In the context of his artistic work, Jörg Sasse never understands photography as a mere depiction of reality, but rather analyses the conditions, both of creation and perception, of the photographic image. At the centre of this artistic reflection are questions about both the creation and the visual qualities of such images. Sasse uses both his own digital photographs and found amateur photographs as the basis for his conceptual work on the image. The motifs of these photographs range from everyday to banal and come from all conceivable areas of life.