Adam Jeppesen’s atmospheric, ethereal photographs play at the intersection of fiction and reality. These photographs (this article includes imagery from his series “Folded” and “Flatlands”) were taken on a 487-day journey from the North Pole to Antarctica—an excursion that Jeppesen undertook alone. The melancholic, compelling images that resulted from this pilgrimage are the basis for several series in Jeppesen’s oeuvre.
Jeppesen manipulates the surface of his photographs—in his “Folded” series, he deliberately creases the pages of each large-format picture—to elicit questions from the viewer about their perspective. The folds evoke two contrasting reactions: at first, the substance of the paper serves as a reminder that the vista is fabricated. But the investigation doesn’t stop there: the raised ridges push Jeppesen’s work into the realm of sculpture, and as such, they offer the viewer a new way to interact with the artwork. The careful square segments are reminiscent of window panes; even though the material aspects of the paper—evidence that the landscapes aren’t real—are apparent, the images maintain a distinct believability as a result of the viewer’s altered perspective. Below, Jeppesen talks about his photographic processes, the value of imperfections, and his “existential” experience in the Antarctic.
All alone from the North Pole to the Antarctic in 487 days—a journey in total solitude. With my camera in tow to document the rugged landscapes and vast expanses, I’ve moved beyond the traditional experience of space and time.
Photos document certain moments that—at first glance—appear to be the enigmatic presentation of a distorted reality. Did I really experience it like that? And how can I convey this existential experience? I reconstruct my adventures less with the content of the photos and more with their presentation. The surfaces of the negatives acquired scratches, spots and dust deposits during the trip—concrete traces of the expedition. I made no attempt to alter these imperfections.
In the “Folded” series, I periodically fold the landscape motifs printed on rice paper. In this way, a delicate network forms large patterns within the images—a tenuous framework that grants the viewer some orientation. Instead of a traditional photograph, which presents a wide, flat expanse to the viewer, the images in “Folded” also manifest their detailed elements through depth.
In the “Ghosts” series, I experiment with the printing processes of the photographic medium. I changed the photogravure technique so that the printing block was not coated before ink for each printing, but rather just once. The effect of these “ghost” prints is striking—the scenes fade away, page by page, like specters. In the end, only the white surface remains, and the decision of which image is the “right” one is left to the viewer.
For these arrangements, I’m interested in the aesthetic value of imperfect elements—the search for balance between purity, perfection and damaged elements. I’m also drawn to physical vestiges and elements that are so easily left behind and so seldom examined.
The studio and the journey are equally important parts of the process. As a result of the artistic interventions (the printing processes, materials and presentation), the photographs transform into art objects that cannot be considered as distinct from the special processing method. These images explore photography as a physical process—the reproducible medium becomes an artistic object and something unique.
All photographs courtesy Adam Jeppesen.
Other highlights from the fair included: Stratos Kalafatis’ “Archipelagos”; Julie Blackmon’s “Homegrown”; the newly published book “Magic Party Place” by CJ Clarke; and an exclusive interview with renowned gallerist Janet Borden.