A wave licking the shore of a beach, a snow-capped mountain peak, jagged rock formations—the monochrome landscapes of Dominique Teufen feel both mysterious and familiar at the same time. They are vistas that we have all seen before: beautiful landscapes and natural phenomena from books and magazines that we dream of travelling to, but will probably never reach. But on closer inspection, we realize that Teufen never made the journey either. Her expedition around the world was actually a journey through her imagination. It actually took place in her studio, using a standard photocopy machine as her vehicle.
Inspired by the snow-covered expanses of Antarctica, the picturesque hills of China and the rugged fjords of Norway, Teufen’s delicate topographies are carefully crafted by hand using a range of unexpected materials. “Starting with crumpled paper, deformed plastic, plexiglas and foils, to flour, cotton wool and coffee grounds, a variety of materials are placed on the copy machine. The exposure is then controlled by the manipulation of the lid of the copy machine,” she explains. “In the process, these materials transform into moonlit, snow-covered mountain slopes, huge rock formations, cloudy hilly landscapes or, for example, a reflective and moving water surface with a striking coastal silhouette.”
With a background in sculpture and stone carving, materiality is a primary concern for Teufen, whose work oscillates between 2D and 3D. Using the scenic photographs that make up our collective perception of a place as a starting point for the journey, she then physically builds new worlds, only to flatten them back out in the photocopy machine. The final image is a photograph of the resulting sculptural arrangement, which Teufen believes transforms her imaginary landscapes into “a possible reality.” Existing somewhere between reality and illusion, the images play with our perception, first seducing and then deceiving. Teufen concludes, “The imposing mountain range turns out to be a trivial thin silk paper piece, the idyllic beach a thin plastic bag and the impressive glacier as a mere queuing of cotton balls.”